Today, an estimated 4,400 residents of the National Capital Region participated in “Bike to Work Day” to promote a healthy and environmentally-friendly commuting alternative that reduces road congestion. The event, organized by Commuter Connections, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), drew 1,400 more riders than it did last year.
The cyclists gathered at nineteen pit stops throughout the region, ten in Maryland, eight in Virginia, and one--the main celebration at Freedom Plaza--in the District of Columbia, offering free food, t-shirts, and chances to win prizes, while they listened to speakers tout the benefits and growing popularity of bicycle commuting.
“The number of workers who regularly bike to work is growing,” said COG Chair Phil Mendelson at Freedom Plaza. “The latest results from the 2000 Census show that while the total number of commuters in the region increased by 7% in the last decade, the number of workers commuting by bicycle increased by twice that percentage, 14%.”
“I commend our citizens who bicycle and use commuting alternatives for their contributions to the health and welfare of the community,” said Montgomery County Executive Douglas Duncan to a group of cyclists gathered in Silver Spring. He said that Montgomery County is doing all it can to expand alternative transportation options by making substantial new investments in bicycle and pedestrian trails.
Bicycle commuting can help to reduce pollutants in the air and traffic on the region’s overcrowded roadways. It also benefits both employers and employees by lowering commuting costs, improving employee health and fitness, and increasing productivity. Studies show the National Capital Region has the third most traffic congestion in the nation.
Through the Commuter Connections program, employers are encouraged to promote cycling to work by providing employees with bicycle parking, showers and changing facilities, flexible work schedules, the option of cashing-out their parking benefit to purchase bicycles and equipment, and the Guaranteed Ride Home program, which provides up to four emergency rides home from work per year to cyclists that bike to work at least two times per week.
Elected officials and special guests who spoke at or attended today’s events include:
Freedom Plaza, DC
- Anthony Williams, Mayor of the District of Columbia
- Phil Mendelson, COG Chair and member of the Council of the District of Columbia
- Andy Clarke, Executive Director of the League of American Bicyclists
- Melissa Johnson, Executive Director of the President's Council on Physical Fitness
- Carol Schwartz, Member of the Council of the District of Columbia
- Dan Tangherlini, Director of the District Department of Transportation
- Dave Robertson, Executive Director of COG
- Chris Van Hollen, U.S. Congressman
- Bill Bronrott, Delegate, Maryland General Assembly
- Marilyn Goldwater, Delegate, Maryland General Assembly
- Steve Silverman, Montgomery County Council President
- Howard Denis, Montgomery County Councilmember
- George Leventhal, Montgomery County Councilmember
- Nancy Floreen, Montgomery County Councilmember
- Neil Pederson, State Highway Administrator
- Marsha Kaiser, Director of Capital Projects, Maryland Department of Transportation
Fairfax County Government Center, VA
- Gerald E. Connolly, Chairman, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors
Reston Town Center, VA
- Catherine M. Hudgins, Fairfax County Supervisor
Silver Spring, One Discovery Place, MD
- Douglas Duncan, Montgomery County Executive
- Derick Berlage, Chairman, Montgomery County Planning Board
- George Rice, Assistant Executive Director of COG