Thurston County residents and commuters showed great enthusiasm for commuting by bicycle this May in the 2012 Bicycle Commuter Contest. This popular annual bicycling event, just completing its 25th year, provides education, support, and incentives to encourage area commuters and residents to trade four wheels for two on trips to work, school, and errands.
Coordinated by Intercity Transit since 2006, this year’s contest drew 1,545 participants. Their travel-log data reveals that participants made nearly 14,000 trips and traveled more than 120,000 miles (cumulatively) by bicycle and, on average, rode 114 miles each during the month of May. These numbers make 2012 a record-breaking year.
“The mission of Intercity Transit is to provide and promote transportation choices; that’s why we sponsor the Bicycle Commuter Contest,” said Martin Thies, chair of the Intercity Transit Authority. Thies is also an avid cyclist. “This annual event provides us with an opportunity to change a habit—the way we rely on our cars—and to move toward other modes of transportation that are better for our own health and for the health of our community.”
Intercity Transit’s involvement in the popular bicycling event goes beyond getting people on bicycles. Transit officials say the Bicycle Commuter Contest, like other initiatives the agency leads, is about empowering people and supporting a healthy, vital community.
The month-long event, which also has preliminary events in April, enjoyed a generous level of sponsorhip, volunteerism, and jurisdictional support. Duncan Green, coordinator for the event since 2009, indicated a record 56 organizations, most of which were local businesses, supported the 2012 effort, contributing a combination of cash, services, gift cards, coupons, and merchandise for event prizes and incentives. In all, 200 prizes were awarded and the event was administered on a small budget.
Six area jurisdictions supported the BCC activity by proclaiming May as Bicycle Commuter Month. This included the cities of Lacey, Olympia, Tenino, Tumwater and Yelm, and Thurston County.
The BCC also conducts an annual survey, provides a summary of feedback to jurisdictions related to the region’s bicycle infrastructure, and publishes a report, available online at www.intercitytransit.com.
Community volunteers helped with related events beginning in April. These included leading neighborhood rides on Earth Day, doing bicycle safety checks for registered participants at the Olympia Transit Center (the Wrenchers Ball), and staffing activity on National Bike to Work Day.