By Natalie Holtz
Dust off your two-wheeler, grab a helmet (seriously) and add Pee-wee's Big Adventure to your Netflix queue - May is National Bike Month.
Initiated by the League of American Bicyclists in 1956, National Bike Month promotes pedal-pushing as an ecologically and economically sustainable alternative to driving, It's also a great way to get a little exercise without having to worry about all that traffic distracting you from texting.
Offering more than 1,340 miles of bikeways and some of the best weather in the world, San Diego is primo for spokes people. On Bike to Work Day (May 16), more than 90 pit-stop locations around the county will offer motivation in the form of free t-shirts, snacks and, most importantly, encouragement to the thousands of San Diegans ditching their whip for a day.
For the "I'll get too sweaty" and "It's too far" types, San Diego County Bike Coalition (SDCBC) executive director Andy Hanshaw says to stop making excuses.
"Even if it's not the entire way; even if it's part-way, give it a shot," he says. "I guarantee you, you'll enjoy it. You'll feel better about yourself and you're doing a good thing."
So, do as the Amsterdamers do (they ride bikes, see sidebar) and saddle-up on two wheels. The ozone layer, your heart and anyone seeing you in a bikini or boardshorts this summer will thank you.
In For the Ride
Ten tips for first-time bicycle commuters
1. Plan your route ahead of time.
2. Practice a dry run over the weekend.
3. Make sure your bicycle is in proper working order.
4. Consider using mass transit for part of the trip.
5. Know the rules of the road.
6. Be visible - reflectors and reflective gear is a must.
7. Slow your pace in the final leg to prevent arriving at work sweaty.
8. Let your employer know you'll be biking to work and might be a little late.
9. Leave a change of clothes at work the day before.
10. Register for Bike to Work Day at iCommuteSD.com.
Bicycling by the numbers
58 the percent of Amsterdamers who ride a bike daily.
1817 Karl von Daris invents a walking machine, or "Drasin," which leads to the invention of the modern bicycle.
8,400 Number of San Diegans who participated in Bike to Work Day 2013.
10 The number of bicycles that can fit in one parking space.
1903 Tour de France is established.
1860s the term "bicycle" is invented.
$200 million Amount of money San Diego's Regional Agency (SANDAG) has been awarded to improve biking infrastructure over the next 10 years.
Vow to the car and reap rewards
Biking to work or finding a carpool buddy reduces traffic, promotes greener living and - thanks to iCommute, a free program offered by SANDAG - gives local practitioners the chance to win prizes in the form of gift certificates to local health spas and restaurants. iCommute encourages San Diegans to leave their cars in the driveway. Its TripTracker, which measures the financial and economical savings of cycling and carpooling, automatically enters high-volume users (those who log at least eight days of alternative transportation in one month) into monthly contests. Another win for commuters who bike to work three or more times per week: iCommute's Guaranteed Ride Home program ensures you'll never be stranded. iCommuteSD.com