Congratulations to everyone who celebrated Bike To Work Day 2013, and particularly those who were first-time bike commuters. It was a banner year for this event, with cities from Anchorage, Alaska, to West Palm Beach, Florida, reporting bigger-than-ever turnouts.
Bike To Work Day is a terrific opportunity for those who have considered bicycle commuting to give it a try.
Bike associations organize convoys from different neighborhoods to help people see what routes are bike-friendly. They set up pit stops where they offer water, coffee, and breakfast. And they host rallies where speakers talk about local bike amenities and the many benefits of bicycling. First-time riders-to-work learn that --depending on the community-- what might have seemed intimidating is easier than they thought.
Here in the Washington, DC, region, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association reported more than 14,500 people registered for the event, a 20 percent increase from last year. Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez was spotted at the region's biggest rally, held annually in Freedom Plaza. Capital Bikeshare tallied 10,166 rides, its highest-ever ridership for a weekday. And, I'm happy to report, the WABA pit stop at Canal Park, across the street from our DOT headquarters, had twice as many participants as last year.
As more and more people choose to ride, we've worked hard over the last four and half years at DOT to make sure that bicycling has a seat at the table, that communities that want to build bike-friendly infrastructure can get Federal support, and that our roadways work for all users.
And we've made a lot of progress. That's why, this spring, DOT began an effort to turn the bicycling conversation in a different direction: safety. We held two productive safety summits in April --one in Tampa and one in Minneapolis-- where experts, planners, and educators gathered to share best practices and to see what safety lessons could be applied in communities across the country. As we work to improve bike safety, we will build on those summits.
Our nation is working to reduce its reliance on oil. We also need to reduce our emissions. And, as our population grows, our roads are increasingly congested with cars. When people choose to ride their bicycles, they help us meet all three of those challenges. At the same time, they also enjoy their commute and get a healthy dose of exercise.
Bike To Work Day makes those benefits a reality for more and more cyclists each year. That's something to celebrate.