Cycling commuters on the rise, Bike to Work Day

Stock image, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Friday is National Bike to Work Day when participants nationwide will pull out their bikes and give them a ride, some for the first time to work. The practice of bicycle commuting is on the rise across the country and the St. George area is no exception.

A U.S. Census Bureau report by sociologist Brian McKenzie, released earlier this month, reported many U.S. cities are seeing an increase in bicycle commuters.

Nationwide, the number of people who traveled to work by bike increased roughly 60 percent over the last decade, from about 488,000 in 2000 to about 786,000 during the 2008-2012 period. This is the largest percentage increase of all commuting modes tracked by the 2000 Census and the 2008-2012 American Community Survey.

Levi Roberts, a planner with the Five County Association of Governments in St. George, arrives to work on his daily commute by bicycle, St. George, Utah, May 2014 | Photo courtesy of Craig Shanklin, St. George News

In the St. George and Washington County area, the Southern Utah Bicycle Alliance, or SUBA, a nonprofit advocacy group representing the interests of all cyclists in the county, sees cyclists increasingly using their bicycles as a mode of transportation, and not just for fun, recreation and exercise.

One reason for this increase in bicycle commuting is the growing cost of other forms of transportation. According data from the League of American Bicyclists, Americans spend 16 percent of their take-home pay on personal transportation including car payments, insurance, repairs and gas. This is more than Americans spend on food or health care.

One example of the many local bike commuters is Levi Roberts, a planner with the Five County Association of Governments in St. George. Roberts rides his bike to work at his office off of Dixie Drive in St. George almost daily. He said:

Biking to work is a no-brainer for me. Our family has one vehicle that I leave at home for my wife to use while I’m at work. If I decided to buy another car so that I can drive to work, it would cost about $7,000 per year. I get 45 minutes of free exercise each day by biking to and from work, which is four miles from my home in St George. On top of that, I feel refreshed and ready to work when I arrive in the morning.”

Roberts, who previously lived in Portland, Ore., one of America’s most bike-friendly cities, sees great opportunities for St. George.

“With cycling, there is safety in numbers,” Roberts said. “I usually see three or four cyclists on my four-mile journey to work. My vision for the community is to see hundreds.”

Another local bicycle commuter is Lukas Brinkerhoff, a manager with Red Rock Bicycle Company, who bikes to work nearly every day.

“For me a bicycle is the perfect way to get around St. George,” Brinkerhoff said. “Everything is close and I can ride year round.”

“In recent years, many communities have taken steps to support more transportation options, such as bicycling and walking,” McKenzie said. “For example, many cities have invested in bike share programs, bike lanes and more pedestrian-friendly streets.”

St. George and Utah Department of Transportation are an example of this national trend towards encouraging the health and economic benefits of cycling by improving local infrastructure. As reported by St. George News, new radar controlled traffic signals that detect bicyclists at major intersections were unveiled in St. George Wednesday by SUBA, UDOT and the City of St. George.

May 16, is National Bike To Work Day, a part of National Bike Month celebrated each May. These recognition days were established by The League of Ameircan Cyclists Local cyclists, who perhaps do not use their bicycle for transportation, are encouraged to ride to work, school or errands on Friday.

Written and submitted by Craig Shanklin, president of SUBA

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