COVID-19 Can’t Stop Bike Month in Silicon Valley

Image from Bike to Work Day in 2019 from the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition.
Image from Bike to Work Day in 2019 from the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition.

While Bike to Work Day has been postponed this year for obvious reasons, that hasn’t stopped some bicycle advocacy groups from powering on with various Bike Month activities this May. The Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition is no exception. The group has powered on with five virtual challenges for bicycle riders throughout the month of May.

“COVID-19 has reinforced how important the bicycle is. It is that one form of transportation that is resilient, affordable, sustainable and healthy,” explained SVBC Executive Director Shiloh Ballard.

“We also know that it is in times of life change that people are open to behavior change,” she added, and “many people have slowed down, which is allowing them to do things differently, to not prioritize speed in their transportation choice. All of these factors together mean now is the time for people to re-acquaint themselves with the bicycle.”

Starting Monday, SVBC has four weekly challenges for bike riders to take pictures and post them on social media with various hash tags. One winner will be selected each week for best picture, and a second winner can be selected from someone tagged in the same picture. So if I were riding with my wife and we took a picture of her in a field of flowers on Flower Power week and tagged her, we could potentially both be winners that week. The four themed events are:

  • May 1 to 9 is Flower Power week
    • Post a picture of flowers you see while on a bicycle ride and tag some friends, tag SVBC, and use #FlowerPowerSVBC
  • May 10 to May 16 is People Power week
    • Post a picture of yourself on your bike and tag some friends, tag SVBC, and use #PeoplePowerSVBC
  • May 17 to May 23 is Pedal Power week
    • Post a picture of your shoe and pedal and tag some friends, tag SVBC, and use #PedalPowerSVBC
  • May 24 to May 31 is Wheel Power week
    • Post a picture of or through your bicycle wheel and tag some friends, tag SVBC, and use #WheelPowerSVBC

“For me, the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted that it is more important than ever for people to switch gears and realize that balance really matters. Our world is sending us a big wakeup call — we must take proper care of it as well as ourselves and live within a healthy balance,” writes Tim Oey, also with the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition.

“Mankind is pushing too hard on our world and our world just pushed back. If we don’t treat Climate Change with the same rigor and seriousness as we are treating COVID-19, it will hit us much harder than COVID-19 has. Bicycling can play a huge role and is amazing because it saves lives, saves kids, saves money, saves our world, reduces pollution, reduces traffic, reduces waste, reduces climate change / greenhouse gases, increases physical health, increases mental health, increases equity, increases safety, and increases happiness all while getting you where you need to go and maintaining physical distancing!”

Yes, Bay Area Bike to Work Day is postponed from May 14 to September 24 but SVBC wants people to still use the day, which is annually the world-wide largest celebration of bicycling in the world, to celebrate bicycling. They’ve renamed it “Bike to Wherever Day.” The same contest rules apply as the ones from their weekly challenges: Post a picture of on May 14 of your “Wherever” and tag some friends, tag SVBC, and use #BTWD2020.

“Bike To Wherever Day popped out in March when we realized shelter-at-home would radically impact Bike To Work Day — we were able to reuse BTWD with a twist,” continued Oey. “People really are biking wherever right now. When my wife and I go out for our daily spin, we see all sorts of people and families riding around on otherwise mostly empty streets.”

While virtual events don’t require the same level of preparation as ones that take place in the outside, pre-COVID 19, world; preparing this year’s Bike Month still provided quite the challenge.

“Planning for Bike To Work Day this year was crazy! We were chugging right along on schedule when suddenly BOOM!! Everything changed,” writes Oey.”Our Bay Area BTWD regional planning team, all the executive directors, and our major partners had lots of emails, calls, and online meetings to figure out how to adapt to our new reality. It took a while to get consensus. We decided to each independently do our own things for Bike Month in May and the official BTWD moved to September 24th. We also did contingency planning to modify how September’s BTWD could be done to accommodate current health orders in the fall.”

Stanford University brought the capes theme to last year's Bike to Work Day. Can you take a more epic shot this year? Photo: Standford.Edu
Stanford University brought the capes theme to last year’s Bike to Work Day. Can you take a more epic shot this year? Photo: Standford.Edu

While Oey, Ballard and leadership in bicycle advocacy groups across the Bay Area are using Bike Month to keep the focus on a celebration of bicycling, we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge that May is also traditionally a month when many bicycle advocacy groups have pledge drives and events essential to keeping their organizations up and running.

While participating in SVBC events is a great way to spread the news about SVBC and Bike Month, becoming a Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition member is even better. Similar to the Streetsblog California Walk-a-thon/Bike-a-thon event going on this May, you can get people to sponsor you by clicking the green “Become a fundraiser” button for SVBC as well. To increase your reach, SVBC encourages fundraisers to add your SVBC Fundraiser link as a comment to your May Power picture posts too.

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