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Monday, April 20, 2009

COLUMBUS TO CELEBRATE 2ND ANNUAL BIKE TO WORK WEEK IN MAY

Columbus, Ohio—April 20, 2009—Columbus’ second annual Bike to Work Week (B2WW) celebration has expanded to fill the month of May with a two-week Commuter Challenge, a long and growing list of events, and Bicycle Friendly Businesses offering discounts to cyclists all month.

Bike to Work Week is a program of the League of American Bicyclists, the nation’s oldest bicycle advocacy organization, in which cities throughout the country plan a week of activities to encourage bicycle transportation. Austin Kocher, Columbus’ B2WW organizer for the past two years, says, "Bike to Work Week is a chance for people all over Central Ohio to get the bikes out of their garages and cycle into work, perhaps for the first time. We also have workshops and activities scheduled throughout May to give all cyclists a taste of the city’s diverse and vibrant bicycle community."

The cornerstone of B2WW is the Commuter Challenge, a friendly competition among local organizations to see whose employees can log the most trips by bike. Organizations are separated into five categories based on their number of employees (1–19, 20–99, 100–499, 500–999, or 1000+). Teams earn one point for each of their members’ bicycle commutes from May 4 to May 14; the organization with the highest ratio of points to number of employees wins the category. Winning teams will be announced and acknowledged on May 15 at the free luncheon offered to all Challenge participants by Battelle and Manley-Deas-Kochalski LLC, and CS Courier.

Matt Young, a member of last year’s winning Battelle team, is once again coordinating the Challenge. He notes that last year 393 cyclists on 29 teams replaced 1700 car trips with bicycle commutes totaling 10,000 miles, in just 4 days. This year his goal is to have 1000 cyclists signed up for the expanded 9-day Challenge. Young reminds people considering participation that “It’s the number of trips that count. Fast, slow, long, short commutes — they all count the same. So wear what’s comfortable. Ride the bike you have. If you need help getting started, find a Ride Buddy on our Web site. Take your time and enjoy a new experience that will open your eyes and ears to the city.”

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2ND ANNUAL BIKE TO WORK WEEK

Cyclists will also benefit from discounts at many Bicycle Friendly Businesses during May. Restaurateur Liz Lessner is spearheading this campaign through the Central Ohio Restaurant Association to encourage behavior she says “helps our downtown thrive and come alive.” Bicycles are good for business because they “ease parking and traffic problems and create safer, friendly streets,” she says. Lessner will offer “2-wheel discounts” to helmet-wearing cyclists at each of her restaurants and she encourages other business owners to do the same. They can download a Bicycle Friendly Business poster for their storefront, and publicize their discount to Challenge participants, on the B2WW Web site.

The launch of a new Web B2WW site this year — http://b2ww.org — has also made it possible for Challenge participants to create or join their organization’s team, track bicycle trips, learn about events, and map favorite routes online with ease. “We built this tool to support riders during Bike to Work Week. But it will also distinguish Columbus as a place that contributes innovative tools to forward-thinking transportation solutions,” says developer Mike Reed. He intends to use the B2WW platform to serve Central Ohio cyclists and collect data all year long, and ultimately to help other communities brand it for their own needs.

Kocher, citing what he calls “the extraordinary level of innovation and volunteerism demonstrated by the B2WW team,” imagines a new future for Central Ohio in which bicycling is a preferred mode of transportation. “We believe that all people in all communities should get to experience the joys and benefits bicycling has to offer,” he says. “Bike to Work Week is our way of making that happen in a big way. We can then use our momentum to help people incorporate cycling into their everyday lives during the rest of the year."

Central Ohio’s 2009 Bike to Work Week was coordinated by a team of cyclists from Yay Bikes!, Consider Biking, and many local corporations. Information about specific B2WW events and our supporters can be found online at http://b2ww.org.

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Contact Austin Kocher at 614-406-5037 or ackocher@gmail.com for more information about Bike to Work Week, the Commuter Challenge, Bicycle Friendly Businesses, and the full slate of B2WW activities.

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