SHOWN: Bike HUB volunteer Maya Zubia. Photo courtesy of Bike Ventura County
By Darrin Peschka and David Goldstein
Amid encouraging signs that the worst of the pandemic is behind us, more businesses are reopening and workers are returning to the office.
If you’re one of those employees who returns to face-to-face work, even if it’s only a few days a week, now is a good time to start thinking about incorporating a bike into your commute.
May is Bike Month, and the Ventura County Transportation Commission encourages residents to leave their vehicles at home and ride bikes instead.
During Bike Month, individuals who commit to riding will have a chance to win one of six $250 gift cards. You can make the pledge on the VCTC’s website, goventura.org/pledge. Entrants must be over the age of 18 and pledges must be made by May 31st.
There are several ways to participate in Bike Month. During Bike to Work Week (May 16-20) and Bike to Work Day (May 20), consider cycling to work instead of driving.
In Ventura County, about 1,717 people commute by bike to work, according to the 2020 American Community Survey. That number, about 0.4 percent of the county’s commuters, is consistent with other counties in Southern California, according to the survey.
If your commute is too far to cycle, consider combining a bike tour with a bus or train ride. Most transit companies in Southern California provide onboard bike storage, bike racks, and locking facilities at stops and stations. The VCTC Intercity service allows electric bicycles (e-bikes) in bike racks if they don’t have wet batteries. Rules can vary, so it’s best to check with individual operators about taking bikes on board.
Swapping a vehicle for a bike is an easy way to help the environment by reducing traffic congestion and reducing air pollution. Cycling instead of driving can also be a way to save some money. Regular unleaded gasoline is priced at about $5.80 a gallon in Ventura County, according to AAA, so riding a bike instead of driving can mean you’ve got a few extra bucks in your pocket.
If you’re not returning to work, consider riding your bike instead of driving to run errands and get to appointments.
Riding a bike and enjoying the great outdoors can be good for physical and mental health, and May is also Mental Health Awareness Month, according to nonprofit Bike Ventura County (BikeVC), which helps people bring their own bikes to Bike HUB -Repair shops in Ventura and Oxnard who have teamed up with local artists who will transform bikes into works of art promoting mental health education.
“The people who most need Bike HUB’s support to keep bikes running are homeless or with mental health issues. It gives them strength to come to the HUB and learn how to keep a bike going,” said Chris Barton, Ventura Bike HUB Shop Manager. HUBs (Helping Urban Bicyclists) charge tiered replacement parts and lend all the tools needed for repairs.
In addition, Sergio Garcia, Head of Education Program at BikeVC, leads educational programs in schools during Bike Month. He conducts physical education classes on bicycles during three-week programs in schools. After taking bike safety classes, he’ll lead rides around the neighborhood.
If you’re an employer, consider offering your employees an incentive to cycle to work this month. The Ventura County Sustainability Department hosts “Cyclemania,” a series of events to promote cycling among the county’s employees. Over four days at county facilities, “Welcome Stations” will encourage drivers by providing coffee, snacks and educational resources. A May 19 presentation will detail commuter and healthcare services available to county employees. Cyclemania will conclude on May 26 with the presentation of the county’s Active Transportation Plan and VCTC Regional Bikeway Wayfinding Plan, including information on family-friendly bike routes, by the Public Works Agency and the Ventura County Transportation Commission.
If you’re a new cyclist, VCTC makes it easy to find out about places to ride. Visit goventura.org/getting-around/bike and discover one of Ventura County’s bike routes. The regional cycling map highlights Class 1 trails that are segregated from cars; Class 2, which are painted bike lanes on shared roads; and Class 3, which are on-road cycle routes identified by signs.
Follow VCTC (@GoVCTC) on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or visit www.goventura.org.
For BikeVC and its two bike HUBs visit bikeventura.org.
The Bicycle Art Exhibition Healing Cycles BikeVC opens Sunday, May 15 at 11:00 am at the new Oxnard Bike HUB, 154 E. Sixth St. The Painted Bike Art exhibit remains on view at the Oxnard Bike HUB May 15-31, 2022.
Darrin Peschka, Program Manager, Government and Community Relations for the Ventura County Transportation Commission, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ventura County Public Works Agency Environmental Resource Analyst David Goldstein can be reached at email@example.com or 805-658-4312.