Bike to work month reaches its conclusion

Elementary school students meet at the Douglas Island Breeze In before biking to Gastineau School for Bike to School Day on May 7, 2014. (Photo by Annie Bartholomew/KTOO)

Elementary school students meet at the Douglas Island Breeze In before biking to Gastineau School for Bike to School Day on May 7, 2014. (Photo by Annie Bartholomew/KTOO)

Juneau has had perfect weather for May’s National Bike Month. This year’s events included Bike to Work Day, Bike to School Day, and a Bicycle Commute Challenge.

Though Bike to School Day and Bike to Work Day have been organized for multiple years, it was the first time Juneau participated in a commute challenge. Cyclists formed teams in a friendly competition with the winning team having the most trips to and from work at the end of May. 26 teams signed up, with almost 200 people participating. The teams are from all over Juneau including employees from Alaskan Brewing Co., the USDA Forest Service and KTOO.

The challenge and temperate weather contributed to the event’s success according to Ben Lyman, a senior planner for the City and Borough of Juneau (CBJ) and a Bike to Work Day volunteer.

“When it did rain that one day, I think we had a lot more riders that day simply because of the challenge,” he says.

During Bike to Work Day on May 16, 98 cyclists were counted passing through Egan Drive and W. 10th St., a threefold increase from last year.

The challenge was coordinated by Juneau Rides, the advocacy branch of the Freewheelers Bike Club.

Sarah Bronstein, a planner with CBJ and a Juneau Rides volunteer, spearheaded the initiative. She had previously worked with the Cascade Bicycle Club which originally designed the event. Cascade currently hosts the roster of Juneau teams on their website.

Bronstein hopes that people discover that cycling is a convenient, safe method of transportation, even in Alaska.

“I want people to know that cycling in Juneau can be easy and fun, and that if you’re already a rider, that you’re not alone…” she says.

Children also got in on the fun, participating in Bike to School Day on May 7. Gastineau Elementary School students met at the Breeze Inn on Douglas and rode to school as a group. About 75 bicycles were counted outside the school that day.

“My goal as a P.E. teacher is to find something that kids love and introduce them to it, so that they’ll do it on their own,” says Dirk Miller, the P.E. teacher for Gastineau Elementary School and organizer of the event.

Juneau Rides next project is creating a printed map of bike routes in Juneau.