Organizers of the Washington region's annual Bike to Work Day want to make two-wheeled commuting as easy and inviting as possible for first-time participants.
Cycling classes, commuter convoys, bike-to-work guides, and the regional Guaranteed Ride Home program are among the many services and resources designed to help commuters feel safer and more comfortable taking to the road and trails as part of the event, to be held this year on Friday, May 15.
Cycling classes held in the weeks prior to Bike to Work Day aim to help those interested in starting to commute by bike to learn how to ride with traffic and communicate and maneuver effectively. The classes are offered by the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), one of the co-organizers of Bike to Work Day.
WABA also organizes commuter convoys on the day of the event to help first-time or infrequent cyclists feel more comfortable commuting to work by bike. The convoys are led by experienced bicyclists along designated routes, often between suburban residential neighborhoods and major employment centers. This year, about 20 convoys are planned, leaving from places such as Takoma Park, Falls Church, and Anacostia.
Get more: Anticipated commuter convoy routes for Bike to Work Day 2015
A comprehensive bike-to-work guide developed by Commuter Connections, the other Bike to Work Day co-organizer, also helps prepare commuters for bicycling to work. The guide is filled with tips on how to ride safely with traffic, pack the right gear, use bikes in tandem with transit, and ride in inclement weather.
Finally, the regional Guaranteed Ride Home program, run by Commuter Connections, gives bicycle commuters peace of mind by providing a free taxi ride home in the event of unexpected illness, personal emergency, or unscheduled overtime that comes up during the workday. The Guaranteed Ride Home program provides similar services for commuters who carpool, vanpool, or take transit.
In addition to reaching out directly to would-be bicycle commuters, WABA and Commuter Connections also work with area employers to provide on-site showers, gym lockers, bike racks, and secure bike parking for employees, and to expand existing commuter benefits programs to include subsidies for bicycle commuting, including free or discounted Capital Bikeshare memberships.
WABA and Commuter Connections expect as many as 19,000 Washington area commuters to register for this year's Bike to Work Day event, which would set an all-time record.
Read more: Despite Heavy Rains, Thousands Take Part in Bike to Work Day 2014
As it has in the past, this year’s Bike to Work Day event will also feature nearly 80 "pit stops" throughout the region where those who register to participate can stop to meet other bicycle commuters and elected officials, enjoy refreshments, and enter prize raffles. The first 14,000 who register and attend a pit stop will receive an official event t-shirt.
For more information about Bike to Work Day 2015 and to register, go to www.biketoworkmetrodc.org.