ST. GEORGE – Mayor Jon Pike led a large group of cyclists on one of the city’s bike trails Monday evening as a part of the “Bike with Pike” cycling activity. The bike ride from the Crosby Family Confluence Park up to Cottonwood Cove Park was done as a part of National Bike Month.
“This is billed as ‘Bike with Pike’ night. I didn’t choose the slogan, but hey, it rhymes,” Pike said, adding that Monday also marks the first day of “Bike to Work” week. “We thought it’d be a good time to get families together for a ride, kicking off ‘Bike to Work’ week.”
St. George and much of Washington County has become a cycling haven over the years, with St. George sporting approximately 40 miles of paved bicycle trails and future plans for more.
“We’re trying to connect (the trails) a little bit better to our adjoining cities,” Pike said. “So that’s really what we want to promote: healthy lifestyles here in St. George and in Washington County.”
City officials and others are promoting bicycle use as not only a means of recreation and fitness but also as an alternative mode of transportation.
“Most of us discovered bicycling as a recreational activity, but along the way some of us also discovered bicycling solves problems,” said Craig Shanklin, president of the Southern Utah Bicycling Alliance.
Health, growth and finances are three issues that Shanklin said bicycling can address. In relation to health, people can ride their bikes to accomplish fitness goals and get their daily exercise that way.
The second deals with growth. When people talk about growth, Shanklin said, they talk about all the additional traffic and pollution from more cars. People can use bicycles instead of cars to get around, which rolled into the third point – money.
People spend more money on car maintenance than they do food and healthcare, Shanklin said. Choosing to ride a bike instead would be more economical, he said.
“The bike isn’t just a recreational thing you keep in your garage – it’s another transportation option,” Shanklin said.
Bicycling, along with walking and running, is also referred to as active transportation, which many cities, including St. George, are growing to accommodate.
“Active transportation is becoming a part of the community,” said Marc Mortensen, support services manager for St. George. He is also the head of the St. George Active Transportation Committee. Cities that don’t work to accommodate the growing needs of cyclists will be left behind, he said.
“We want to encourage more people to use their bikes,” Mortensen said, “not just for fun and fitness, but also as transportation.”
Together with Alta Planning and Design, the Active Transportation Committee has been crafting a proposed active transportation plan for the City of St. George. It will be presented to the City Council within the next month or so.
Before heading out on the ride, those who brought their bikes were able to test their bike riding skills in a bike rodeo overseen by members of the St. George Police Mountain Bike Patrol. Barbecued hot dogs were served before the ride to event attendees as well.
Bike to Work week wraps up Friday with the official “Bike to Work Day.” On that day cyclists can stop by the corner of St. George Boulevard and Main Street between 7-9:30 a.m. for treats, refreshments and some surprises.
Observance of National Bike Month doesn’t end on Friday, as Washington County will be the first officially designated “County Road Respect Community” in the state.
This event will be celebrated at at Enterprise Elementary School in Enterprise.
The event is being hosted by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and will include free kid’s bike helmets, kid’s bike skills rodeo and other fun activities. There will also be a drawing for a free bike compliments of eSpokes.
Multiple cities in Washington County have been designated Road Respect Communities in recent years including St. George, Santa Clara, Hurricane, Washington City and Ivins.
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