The Well-Tempered Bicycle Commuter: May is Bike Month

By Steve Chambers

Pull it out, tune it up, hop on and fly with your friends through the streets of the city, because May is Bike Month.

by Steve Chambers

The month kicks off on May 2 with the Salt Lake City Bike Summit: workshops, information and speakers on bicycle advocacy. City County Building in Salt Lake City, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) urges riders to show their support for biking as a viable commuting option by biking to work on Wednesdays throughout May. All month UTA sponsors its Commuter Challenge. Bike commuters can track their mileage on UTA’s website. UTA will award prizes in various categories. See UTA’s website for more information:

May 9-16 is Bike Week in Salt Lake County. Start the week on Saturday, May 9, at the Sixth Annual Live Green Eco-Festival at Library Square 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Cycle to the festival and learn about green resources in our community. Over 100 booths are planned to demonstrate everything from alternative energy businesses to recycled and organic home products.

After visiting the Live Green, bike over to Pioneer Park and watch local racers compete in the Downtown Criterium. A criterium, or crit, is a race around a relatively short course, in this case, Pioneer Park, for a specified amount of time. If you’ve never seen a mass of riders (the peloton) flash by, inches from each other, in perfect synchronization, you need to be at Pioneer Park on May 9!

On Tuesday, Bike to Work Day, join Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon and other valley mayors for a leisurely ride with a police escort. The ride starts at the northeast corner of Liberty Park at 7:30 a.m. Free juice, coffee and bagels for riders.

End the work week on Friday at UTA Rideshare’s 14th Annual Bike Bonanza at the Gallivan Center, 4-8 p.m. Admission is free. There will be music, pizza, bike giveaways, free bike tuneups and, at 7 p.m. the Cycle Style Show (for more information visit

If you’re really ambitious, take part in the Salt Lake Century Ride on Saturday, May 16. This ride (not race) goes from the State Fair Park on North Temple north to Antelope Island and back. As the name implies, the full ride is 100 miles. Shorter options of 36 and 67 miles (a metric century, or 100 km) are available. There will be rest stops with snacks and water along the route. The ride is sponsored by Cycle Salt Lake Century, Inc., a not-for-profit organization that supports local organizations such as the Salt Lake City Bicycle Coalition, Friends of Antelope Island and others.

With the weather having been as bad as it has, some of us might feel not quite up to snuff in the biking department. Don’t despair. The great thing about bicycle commuting is that you’re not training for the Tour de France. It doesn’t take much to get back in shape. Start by riding 15-20 minutes a day, four times a week. You can fit this into your daily schedule easily by using your bike for everyday things like returning library books, picking up milk or bread from the neighborhood market or visiting friends. Within two to three weeks you can expect up to an 11% increase in cardiovascular fitness. Once you feel comfortable riding for 30 minutes at a time, plan some longer rides on the weekends, working up to the length of time necessary for your commute.

Plan your route in advance. Don’t assume the route you drive is the best for bike commuting. Stay on side streets and take things slow at first.

During Bike Month, motorists and cyclists alike will do well to keep in mind the five national strategies for advancing bicycle safety and awareness promulgated by the League of American Cyclists, a bicycle advocacy group in Washington, D.C. These goals are:

Goal #1 Motorists will share the road
Goal #2 Bicyclists will ride safely
Goal #3 Bicyclists will wear helmets
Goal #4 The legal system will support safe bicycling
Goal #5 Roads and paths will safely accommodate bicycling
If you’re new to bike commuting, May will be a great time to start.

Steve Chambers is downtown attorney who bike commutes from Cottonwood.

This article was originally published on April 30, 2009.