As you might imagine, everyone here at the League of American Bicyclists is participating in the National Bike Challenge.
For the most part, we’re utilitarian cyclists. We ride to work. We ride to the grocery store. We ride to press conferences up at the U.S. Capitol that showcase the overwhelming support for cycling in communities across America.
And, well, we’re doing pretty well — even without logging those long, recreational rides that have put inspirational folks like Leonard Wright at the head of the Challenge pack.
Among small businesses of less than 25 employees, the League is #4 — and we’re in good company. The top five businesses in our category are all fellow advocacy organizations. Bike Maryland has edged out the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin for the #1 spot and we’re just a hair behind #3 Local Motion, an advocacy organization in Burlington, VT. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia is nipping at our heels and Bike Pittsburgh is just a few pedal strokes behind at #8.
Transportation cyclists are starting to climb the ranks among individual riders, too. While Leonard Wright is #1 with 100% recreational miles, the number 2 individual rider is the exact opposite. Michael Lemuel of Topeka, Kan.,has racked up more than 2,100 points — ALL from transportation trips. He’s not alone: Ron Clegg, from Columbus, OH, is in 6th place with 67% of his miles coming from transportation, and Mark Lucas in Hartford, Md., is in 8th with 60% of his miles for utilitarian trips.
Which raises an excellent point: Even if you’re just going out for a quart of milk, the National Bike Challenge rewards you for your trip with 20 points PLUS the mileage. So take me as an example. I very rarely go out for a 70-mile ride, like Leonard. In fact, my average day — going to the office and yoga — is only 6.8 miles of riding all told. But I’m already at the Gold level — more than 500 points. That’s because I ride. Every. Single. Day. And even if it’s just a two-mile round trip to Ella’s Pizza for Sunday brunch, I log it.
And I know there are a lot of folks out there like me, like the folks here at the League. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are actually more than 730,000 of us — people who bike to work. How powerful would it be if we could recruit just a tiny fraction of those folks to join us in the Challenge?
So, as we close out Week 4, I’d like to propose a personal challenge. I have plenty of friends who ride like me — relatively short but consistent trips for work and errands and day-to-day life. I commit to recruiting at least one new Challenge rider before the end of May — and report back in next week’s recap.
Will you join me?
If you haven’t already, sign up for the National Bike Challenge here.
Carolyn SzczepanskiCarolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.