Intercity Transit selected “Bicycling Builds Community” as the theme of the 2014 Thurston County Bicycle Commuter Contest, but what does this mean? Answers will vary depending on who you ask. People are motivated to ride for a variety of reasons: recreation, fitness, transportation, competition, necessity, cost, or concern for the environment. Whatever the reason, each choice adds validation for communities to invest in facilities and programs that make cycling more convenient and safer for all who share the road.
Bicycle friendly communities gain much more than the creation of safe spaces to ride a bike.
- Communities with robust and safe bicycle infrastructure attract young adults. There is an emerging national trend among 20 to 30 year-olds opting out of car ownership. They prefer living in urban centers and travel by bicycle, transit, and peer to peer ridesharing. Young entrepreneurs bring jobs, and college graduates bring much needed skills to our workforce.
Tweed Ride in Portland.
- Bicycling is more popular than ever, spawning new markets and contributing to local economies. Portland, Oregon has established a robust bicycle economy around hand-built frames, apparel, gear, beer, bicycle tourism, social events, and much more.
- Mountain biking is an exhilarating and rugged sport. It supports our local bike shops, attracts visiting riders who spend money in our region, and fosters environmental stewardship among people of all ages.
- “Put a bike on it.” Cycling influences pop art and culture. Have you noticed the iconization of bikes on lunch boxes, handbags, cards, t-shirts, and wall paper (the kind that sticks to walls, not screens)? Bikes aren’t just for races and club rides. They are at the center of major social events like SXSW, Burning Man, and critical mass events. Countless counter-culture websites and more mainstream magazines like Bicycle Times and Momentum cover bike lifestyle, fashion, and social issues as much as they do about skills and reviews of bikes and gear.
- Consider downtown Olympia: vintage ten-speeds are an essential as well as functional accessory for skinny-jeaned hipsters and countless greeners. Bikes with make-shift trailers are an affordable and practical form of transportation for some of our homeless population.
Greener going green. Photo by Duncan Green.
- Thurston County has nearly 57 miles of paved trails, over 80 miles of bike lanes, and 260 plus miles of wide shoulders. Our connected bike routes add to our quality of life in terms of providing choice, reducing auto congestion, reducing air pollution, improving health, and having a good time. If you’re new to the area and looking for social or training rides, join the Capital Bike Club.
What does “Bicycling Builds Community” mean to you? If you want to figure this out, try participating in the Thurston County Bicycle Commuter Contest. It is as much a celebration of bicycling in Thurston County as it is a contest. Ride and we guarantee you will discover something amazing!
Over the years the contest has expanded in many ways, but its core objectives remain the same:
- Encourage people of all ages and abilities to try bicycling for transportation
- Reward those who make that choice- whether it is every day, or for one day
- Connect new practical cyclists to available education, resources and support
- To engage employers and encourage them to support active transportation choices
Register in April, Ride in May, and Awards in June! Learn more by visiting the Thurston County Bicycle Commuter Contest website.