A cyclist cruises through Mercer Island on May 15. Andy Nystrom/ staff photo

A cyclist cruises through Mercer Island on May 15. Andy Nystrom/ staff photo

Biking boom during the pandemic rolls into Bike Month

May 21 is Bike Everywhere Day.

Jim Stanton, director of Mercer Island’s Neighbors in Motion, witnessed a surge in bicycle riders taking to the streets when COVID-19 hit.

“Because of the lockdown there were fewer cars on our streets, which encouraged more newbies, families and children to go out for rides. Local bike shops were back ordered for new bikes, especially bikes for young people, and e-bikes,” he said.

Members of the Cascade Bicycle Club echoed those comments, adding that bikes have become an integral part of people’s lives locally, nationally and worldwide for health, happiness and transportation during the pandemic.

“Bicycles bring joy to people’s lives, but they are also an important solution for lowering carbon emissions that are fueling the climate crisis,” reads a club statement to the Reporter. They hope that people continue to utilize their bikes more often in the upcoming months and years.

With the month of May tabbed as Bike Month, Mercer Island’s sustainability program analyst Ross Freeman said that the biking world is welcome to everyone from novice to veteran. It’s a convenient and easily distanced form of personal recreation and a confidence-builder all in one.

Freeman added that the city encourages residents to break out their bikes to commute to work, do errands and make the first- and last-mile connections with transit. On the city bike pages, residents can learn the best routes to efficiently wheel around Mercer Island. For more information, visit: https://www.mercerisland.gov/publicworks/page/pedestrian-and-bicycle-facilities.

Bike Month has returned this year in hybrid form with cyclists joining teams and tracking their solo or collective miles as part of the Bike Everywhere Challenge, and on May 21 people will hit the road on Bike Everywhere Day. Pre-pandemic, heaps of volunteers would staff about 75 to 100 bicycle-related booths all over the Lake Washington region, including some booths on the Island.

For more information, check the Cascade Bicycle Club’s site at: https://cascade.org/rides-and-events/bike-everywhere-month-2021.

Freeman said the Island features a host of ardent and outspoken cyclists.

“There’s a growing community of people on the Island who are climate advocates and carbon footprint reduction advocates,” he said.

Neighbors in Motion rolls into the picture with its devotion to make cycling, walking and other forms of active transportation safer on Mercer Island, according to its website.

“Our activities have included accident response training, participating in Bike to School Days, donating bicycle racks to the city’s parks and school district, and attendance at local events to discuss bicycle safety and learn about community concerns,” Stanton said.

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