Celebrate our Amazing Planet with National Bike Month
Earth Day might be the oldest environmental holiday, but saving the planet takes more than one day per year. That’s why environmental activists have devised so many other collective actions to remind Homo sapiens to take care of our habitat. In our Celebrate our Amazing Planet series, your kids will learn about the challenges affecting our environment and how they can be part of the solution.
If you live in a major city, nobody needs to tell you there are too many cars on the road. Even in small towns, we’ve all seen a dirty plume of smoke escape the exhaust pipe of an old truck and recognized at our reliance on autos. So why shouldn’t you bike to school, or work, or the beach?
May is National Bike Month and as such, celebrations in towns and cities all over America encourage people to bike to work for a week or spend a day cycling. The goal is twofold.
With cars being major carbon polluters, it’s no surprise that we would all be a little better off if our kids didn’t get in the habit of taking the SUV out for a five-minute drive every time they need to buy toilet paper. Bike Month aims to encourage more people to choose two wheels over four and keep our planet a little greener.
Additionally, we know the American obesity epidemic is related to the lack of physical movements we make during our busy days of sitting around. So why not train your kids to stay a little healthier by sneaking some exercise in to their daily routine on the way to and from school?
Special events take place throughout the month all over the country. During Bike Month, communities and individuals organize all sorts of bike-related events to help people encounter the fun, exercise, and sustainability of bike riding.
Convince your town to close streets to auto traffic – known as “open streets” – so that bikes can reign supreme for a day. Create a family block party, “bike-in movie” or parade. Participate with friends and neighbors in bike safety classes, tune-up clinics, water stands, bike rodeos, and much more! There’s no limit to what you can accomplish on two wheels!
Why spend an entire month on a bicycle, you ask? Cycling for a day is a nice gesture; and a week might give you an appreciation for biking; but it really takes a month to form the routine, find a good route and adjust to the energy it takes to bike to work or school. But once you do, freedom from traffic and doing your part to save the planet is a little bit intoxicating.
Usually, the first Monday of Bike Month is the official “Bike to School Day” of the month, but there’s no reason to stop there. Creating a convoy of bikers – whether your kids’ classmates, or your entire family – will help everyone stay safe and seen if you have to ride on the road.
City-dwellers should check local Bike Month literature to find off-road bike paths and smart workarounds for biking to school with kids. Or, you can promote your own publicity campaign about Bike Month to encourage drivers to watch for cyclists, especially kids, on the road.
If you’ve got an ambitious family, try riding for a cause. Get your friends to pledge money for every mile your kids ride during the month. Then, spend the month biking to work, school, sports, and friends’ houses to collect those miles and donate the money to an environmental charity. You and your kids will get in shape and become philanthropists all at the same time.
Better yet, have your kids challenge their friends to see who can ride more miles during the month. With added competitive incentives, they’re bound to stick with cycling throughout the month!
After the Fact
Once the month is over, all bike advocates hope you’ll keep at it. The more cars we can keep off the road, the healthier our air will be; and the more people who make exercise a daily habit, the healthier our society will be. Lots of good reasons to keep up the cycling habit doesn’t make it any easier though.
Once Bike Month is over, continue to lobby your city officials to create bike paths and make streets safer for cyclists. Since safety is one of the major concerns of most would-be cyclists, creating pathways and acquiring the right safety gear for yourself and your kids are all steps we must continue to take.
Create a pledge or challenge that your kids and their friends can commit to: bike to school at least once a week, or bike every day during fair-weather months. Create a schedule and structure for biking to after-school activities. Make a plan and stick to it! Only consistency will create the habits you want your kids to keep.
The Long Term
As many bike advocates say, “Every day is a bike day!” Create good habits around leaving enough time to bike, bringing spare clothes, and consistently biking where you can. Changing our habits will help to restore our bodies and our planet.
Will you and the kids participate in National Bike Month this year? Tell us where you’ll be biking to, and your share your gear of choice!