Loan benefits

Cycling Month Has Benefits

Amid encouraging signs that the worst of the pandemic is behind us, more businesses are reopening and workers are returning to the office.

If you’re going back to work in person for even a few days a week, now’s a great time to consider incorporating a bike into your commute.

May is Bike Month and the Ventura County Transportation Commission (VCTC) encourages residents to leave their vehicles at home and ride their bikes instead.

During Bike Month, people who commit to riding will have a chance to win one of six $250 gift cards. You can make the pledge on the VCTC website, goventura.org/pledge. Participants must be over 18 and pledges must be made by May 31.

There are multiple opportunities to participate in Bike Month. During Bike to Work Week, May 16-20, and Bike to Work Day, May 20, consider cycling to work instead of driving.

About 1,700 or 0.4% of Ventura County commuters cycle to work, a percentage consistent with other Southern California counties, according to the US Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey.

If your commute to work is too far for the bike, consider pairing a bike ride with a bus or train ride. Most Southern California transit operators offer onboard storage compartments for bikes as well as bike racks and lockers at stops and stations. Intercity VCTC service allows e-bikes in bike racks if they do not have wet cell batteries. Rules can vary, so it’s best to check with individual operators whether to bring bikes on board.

Swapping a vehicle for a bike is a simple way to help the environment by reducing traffic congestion and tailpipe pollution. Cycling instead of driving also saves money. The price of regular unleaded gasoline is currently around $5.80 per gallon in Ventura County, according to the AAA Automobile Club.

If you’re not returning to work, consider cycling instead of driving to run errands and keep appointments.

Cycling and enjoying the outdoors is also good for physical and mental health. May is also Mental Health Awareness Month, so the non-profit BikeVentura, or BikeVC, which helps people fix their own bikes at Bike Hub stores in Ventura and Oxnard, has joined forces. partnered with local artists who will turn bikes into works of art that promote mental health. .

“The people who need Bike Hub’s help the most to get their bikes running are homeless or have mental health issues,” said Chris Barton, manager of Ventura Bike Hub Shop. “It’s empowering for them to come to the Hub and learn how to keep a bike running. Hubs charge for spares on a sliding scale and lend any tools needed for repairs.

BikeVC’s “Healing Cycles” Bike Art Exhibit runs May 15-31, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., at the new Oxnard Bike HUB, 154 E. 6th St.

Additionally, BikeVC’s Sergio Garcia is leading three-week bike-based physical education programs in schools this month. After lessons on bicycle safety, he leads neighborhood rides.

If you’re an employer, consider encouraging your employees to cycle to work this month. The Ventura County Division of Sustainability hosts “Cyclemania,” a series of events to promote cycling to county employees.

For four days at county facilities, “Welcome Stations” will encourage cyclists by providing coffee, snacks and educational resources. A presentation on May 19 will explain the commuter and health benefits available to workers in the county.

Cyclemania will conclude on May 26 with the Public Works Agency and Ventura County Transportation Commission’s presentation of the county’s active transportation plan and VCTC’s Regional Bikeway Directional Plan, including information on cycle routes suitable for families.

If you’re a new cyclist, VCTC makes it easy to learn where to ride. Visit goventura.org/getting-around/bike and learn about the county’s bike trails. The regional cycle map highlights class 1 lanes, those separated from cars; Class 2, striped bike lanes on shared streets; and Class 3, sign-designated on-street bike lanes.

Darrin Peschka, program manager for government and community relations at the Ventura County Transportation Commission, can be reached at [email protected]

David Goldstein, environmental resources analyst with the Ventura County Public Works Agency, can be reached at [email protected] or (805) 658-4312.