The Washington region's annual Bike to Work Day is coming up Friday, May 16, and organizers are hoping to get as many as 17,000 commuters to register to bicycle to work that day.
That would be a 16% increase over last year's event, which drew a total of 14,650 participants.
Bike to Work Day got its start at the regional scale in 2001 through a partnership between the Transportation Planning Board's Commuter Connections program and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, commonly known as WABA.
The two groups have jointly organized the event each year ever since to promote bicycling as a viable commuting alternative to driving alone to work.
As it has in the past, this year's Bike to Work Day event will feature dozens of "pit stops" throughout the region where those who register to participate can stop to meet other bicycle commuters and elected officials, enjoy refreshments, enter prize raffles, and receive an official event t-shirt.
In all, there will be 79 pit stops as part of this year's event, up from 72 last year and just five back in 2001.
Among the new pit stops are locations in the District at Georgetown Meigs Park, in Del Ray in Alexandria, in the Penrose neighborhood along Columbia Pike in Arlington, at the US Census Bureau in Suitland, Maryland, and in Fair Lakes and McLean in Fairfax County.
This year's event will also feature new pit stops at the Fort Totten, East Falls Church, and College Park Metrorail stations to encourage those who can't or may not want to bike all the way to work to make the trip to transit on two wheels instead of four.
Following last year's Bike to Work Day event, organizers surveyed the more than 14,000 commuters who participated in order to learn more about the event's effectiveness in encouraging more bicycling.
About 17% of respondents said that the 2013 event was the first time they had ever commuted to work by bike. Close to a third said they started biking to work on a regular basis, or started biking to work more often, following the event.
Beyond helping to measure the overall success of Bike to Work Day, the survey results are used by the TPB to demonstrate the effectiveness of voluntary steps being taken to help reduce automobile-related emissions in the region.
Underlying all of the work by Commuter Connections and WABA to encourage more bicycling is a focus on bicyclist safety.
Commuter convoys led by experienced bicyclists along designated routes between residential areas and major employment centers help first-time or infrequent cyclists feel more comfortable commuting to work by bike. Pit stops will feature important information about bicycle maintenance and safety. And a "Bicycling to Work" guide from Commuter Connections and several different adult bicycling education classes from WABA are among the numerous other resources available to help more people bike confidently and safely.
Bike to Work Day 2014 is free and open to all commuters of the Washington region. Participants should go to biketoworkmetrodc.org to register, for more information about pit stops and commuter convoys in their area, and safety tips.