PICTURED: Bike HUB volunteer Maya Zubia. Photo courtesy Bike Ventura County
By Darrin Peschka and David Goldstein
Amid encouraging signs that the worst of the pandemic is behind us, more businesses are re-opening and workers are returning to the office.
If you’re among the employees returning to in-person work, even if only a few days a week, now is a great time to consider incorporating a bike into your work commute.
May is Bike Month, and the Ventura County Transportation Commission is encouraging residents to leave their vehicles at home and ride a bike instead.
During Bike Month, people who pledge to ride will be entered for a chance to win one of six $250 gift cards. You can make the pledge at VCTC’s website, goventura.org/pledge. Participants must be over the age of 18, and pledges must be made by May 31.
There are multiple opportunities to participate in Bike Month. During Bike to Work Week (May 16-20) and Bike to Work Day (May 20), consider riding a bike to work instead of driving.
In Ventura County, about 1,717 people commute to work by bicycle, according to the 2020 American Community Survey. That figure, about 0.4 percent of the county’s commuters, is in line with other counties in Southern California, according to the survey.
If your work commute is too far for bicycling, consider pairing a bike ride with a bus or train trip. Most Southern California transit operators offer on-board storage compartments for bicycles as well as bike racks and locking facilities at stops and stations. VCTC Intercity service allows electric bikes (e-bikes) in bike racks if they do not have wet-cell batteries. Rules may vary, so it’s best to check with individual operators about bringing bikes on board.
Swapping a vehicle for a bike is a simple way to help the environment by reducing traffic congestion and cutting air pollution. Biking instead of driving can also be a way to save a little money. The price of regular unleaded gasoline is about $5.80 per gallon in Ventura County, according to AAA, so riding a bike instead of driving can mean keeping a few more dollars in your pocket.
If you’re not returning to the workplace, consider biking instead of driving to run errands and get to appointments.
Riding a bike and enjoying the outdoors can be good for physical and mental health, and May is also Mental Health Awareness Month, so the non-profit Bike Ventura County (BikeVC), which helps people fix their own bicycles at Bike HUB shops in Ventura and Oxnard, partnered with local artists who will transform bicycles into works of art promoting mental health outreach.
“People most in need of Bike HUB assistance to keep bikes running are homeless or have mental health issues. It is empowering for them to come to the HUB and learn how to keep a bicycle running,” said Chris Barton, Ventura Bike HUB Shop Manager. HUBs (Helping Urban Bicyclists) charge on a sliding scale for spare parts and loan all the tools needed for repairs.
Additionally, Sergio Garcia, Education Program Lead for BikeVC, is leading education programs in schools during Bike Month. During three-week programs at schools, he is leading physical education classes on bicycles. Following lessons on bike safety, he will lead rides through neighborhoods.
If you are an employer, consider incentivizing your employees to bike to work this month. The county of Ventura’s Sustainability Division is hosting “Cyclemania,” a series of events to promote cycling to county employees. On four days at county facilities, “Welcome Stations” will encourage riders by providing coffee, snacks and educational resources. A presentation on May 19 will explain commuter and health benefits available to county employees. Cyclemania will conclude May 26 with the Public Works Agency and Ventura County Transportation Commission presenting the county’s Active Transportation Plan and VCTC’s Regional Bikeway Wayfinding Plan, including information on family-friendly bike routes.
If you’re a new cyclist, VCTC makes it easy to learn about places to ride. Visit goventura.org/getting-around/bike and discover one of Ventura County’s bike routes. The regional bike map highlights Class 1 paths, which are separated from cars; Class 2, which are shared-street painted bike lanes; and Class 3, which are on-street bike routes designated by signs.
Follow VCTC (@GoVCTC) on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, or visit www.goventura.org.
For BikeVC and its two bicycle HUBs, visit bikeventura.org.
BikeVC’s <em>Healing Cycles</em> bicycle art exhibit opens Sunday, May 15, 11 a.m.4 p.m. at the new Oxnard Bike HUB, 154 E. Sixth St. The painted bicycle art exhibit will remain on display at the Oxnard Bike HUB May 15–31, 2022.
Darrin Peschka, program manager for government and community relations at the Ventura County Transportation Commission, can be reached at [email protected].
David Goldstein, Ventura County Public Works Agency Environmental Resource Analyst, may be reached at [email protected] or 805-658-4312.