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Hosting a “Bike To Work Week”

by Noah

Bike To Work Week is a loosely-organized nationwide event that’s promoted by League of American Bicyclists.. May is always Bike Month, and LAB chooses a week to designate as Bike To Work Week.. The Friday of that week is set aside as Bike To Work Day. Cities in cooler climates often observe Bike To Work Week later in the year.. Denver, CO hosts their Bike To Work Week in June, for example.

As Bike Month winds down to a close, maybe now is the time to look at what other cities have done for bike month and for Bike To Work Week.  Perhaps next year, you can get a group of people together to host your own.

I’ve only been involved in two “Bike To Work Weeks” so far.. Last year, I was simply an active participant.. This year, I volunteered to be on the planning committee.

I’ve seen some people mention that their cities don’t mention it. I’ve seen other places like Washington, D.C. that put on a huge event for Bike To Work Day.. Kansas City, the city that was recently crowned dead last for bicycle commuting of the 50 largest cities in the US, falls somewhere in the middle.. This year, we focused on all things bicycle related — commuting or not.. We called it “Bike Week” but there’s still a car-free commuter challenge contest where participants log their car-free trips, with more points awarded for human-powered journeys than are awarded for car-pooling or transit use. Many of the events focus on luring people to run errands and gather socially on their bicycles.

One thing that’s to be noted is that it takes a very early spark to get things moving. Deep in the winter, while people are riding their trainers and cyclocross bikes, someone has to be rallying the troops and forming a committee.. If you don’t have a core committee selected soon enough, it will be difficult to pull everything together in time for May.. It’s that simple.

Timelines:

Ideally, flyers should already be through the printing process and ready to distribute no less than one month before the event. If observing the LAB schedule, this means early in April. Your events have to be planned so tha. the graphics can to be laid out sometime in March.. Events need leaders, commitments and volunteers. Some events even require equipment rentals. Drumming up donations and bicycle schwag for contests and drawings can also be important. It’s not hard to see that the month of Januar. needs to be used wisely for solidifying the events and pinning down commitments by event organizers. By February, begging for extra volunteers from the community should begin.  Ideally, the committee should kick into planning mode long before all of this.  Here in KC, that usually means a review of the previous Bike Week data and brainstorming for future events as early as November.

After your Bike To Work Week adventure has come to a close, it’s also important to get data about which events were a big hit and which ones flopped miserably. If you wait until it’s time to plan for the next Bike To Work Week, you’ll probably forget quite a bit. Designating a person to collect feedback from volunteers and event leaders is a good idea. If possible, polling the participants will help even more.  Having a central point of contact is a good idea for any project, and an event like Bike Week is no exception.

Event Ideas:

Ultimately, the events your community chooses will be depicted based on a wide range of variables. Here are some ideas that have worked well in many cities:

  • Bicycle maintenance classes
  • Discounts from certain establishments if you ride your bike
  • Traffic-safety themed group rides
  • Bicycle commuting convoys
  • Free breakfast stops around town for cyclists
  • Contests for commute/errand miles ridden or number of trips taken by bike
  • Ride of Silence to remember and remind us of cyclists killed on the road
  • Free transit fare with a bicycle (for multi-mode commuters)
Does your town offer any Bike To Work Week events?. Tell us about some of your favorites or feel free to ask for more advice about getting your own Bike To Work Week started next year.
 
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6 Responses to “Hosting a “Bike To Work Week””

  1. This is a helpful little guide Noah. As co-chair (with my wife) of a one day bicycle tour that had 700 participants last year, I know that planning my event is nearly a 9-10 month process, and reviewing what went wrong and what went right (we have a post-ride survey that I went around and heckled people to fill out) immediately following the event is important. It was especially important for us, as it was our first time organizing this event, but the 25th time the event was run.

    I am meeting with a group to discuss bicycling in GR soon and I’m hoping that the loose formation of a committee for some local bicycling events will come out of it.

  2. Ooops, forgot where I was not commenting in a local forum. GR=Grand Rapids, MI

  3. Melissa says:

    I don’t see this mentioned above, but we had bike mechanics at our large pit stop for BtWD to look over commuters’ bikes and fix minor problems. Our mechanics came from REI, but I imagine most local bike shops would also be happy to provide mechanics to do the minor fixes and get people to think of their shop for more major tune-ups. (They also passed out coupons and water bottles and some other bike schwag.) Advertising that there will be free mechanics available for questions is a nice draw for the reluctant commuter, too.

  4. LJ says:

    Restraints? My spell check has a sense of humor –Restaurants!

  5. LJ says:

    A few years ago I was on my company’s Bike-to-Work committee. Our members asked some local businesses for donations and we got a ton of items –free, including a new bicycle.

    We held a raffle and people got one ticket for each day they rode to work. It was a lot of fun and I was very surprised how easy it was to get restraints, bars, and bike shops to kick in freebies.

    That was the best turn-out I’ve seen for Bike-to-Work events.

  6. James says:

    Probably a bit late, but if you are setting up a bike to work event for this year or next year, please stop by http://biketoworkweek.org and have a link to your site or the information about it placed on the online map.

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