You Can Too! Cycling for Everyone
When I first reacquainted myself with Bellingham the one thing I quickly learned was that if I relocated to the city, I would need to get a bike. I lived in Seattle for 21 years without a bike and I never gave it a thought. Then when I relocated to Mount Vernon-Skagit Valley in 2007 I encountered the limited bus service, I thought of getting a bike, only I did not feel comfortable driving in Skagit Valley traffic which for the most part, had no respect for cyclists. Besides that, I had a list of barriers preventing me from adapting to the life of two-wheels.
After I moved to Bellingham and visited the farmers market every Saturday, I had many conversations from the representatives from our local bicycle advocacy and education organization, Everybody Bike. One of Smart Trips programs through Whatcom Transit Authority and other entities, Everybody Bike’s mission is to get people to commute to work, to school or to bike for errands that are only a short distance–2 miles.
This organization takes its mission seriously and all year round it partners with other businesses and organizations to offer classes in bike safety, bike repair, and skill training for children (and adults). If a prospective cyclist is unable to take a class, he or she can sign up with a bike buddy who also gives lessons and all of this is free.
Once a bicyclist feels confident with their ride, they can join up with a number of trips as part of the Summer Ride program (for both families and individuals). All of the rides have themes, some rides take place in the city limits, while others travel out to the county and many times food is involved in one form or another. Here are some examples of Summer Rides:
On May 19, EB partners with Sustainable Bellingham and tours urban farms in Bellingham where they meet people who raise bees, goats and chickens. The ride for June 30 boasts the Chocolate Detectives. Other rides explore organic dairy farming (July 14) and local history (July 28) and if nature is the thing, Everybody Bike has that covered too–from identifying trees (June 16) and birds (Roasters and Red Tails on August 11).
Post Script: I participated in this year’s Bike to Work and School Day as a walker. I visited four different stations, entered raffles, discovered the South Bay Interurban Trail and met some wonderful people. I also watched adults race on tricycles (which you must see to believe).
I asked lots of questions and one woman told me a story about how she lost her car and this eventually led her to join the bicyclist movement. Even though she said that she suffered from back pain and also has two young children, she adapted to carting children and groceries around by bicycle. She’s not alone. People face their barriers and challenges to adopting the 2-wheel lifestyle and the ones I’ve spoken with love their bikes and green lifestyle.