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May is Bike Month officially opened today with a ceremony along the riverfront promenade. Organizers handed out t-shirts and bike safety information to the 100 people who attended. A bike ride through downtown Sacramento followed the kick-off event. The co-chairs of the Bike Month campaign are West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon and Mercy San Juan Medical Center Safe Kids Coordinator Sonja Atkins.
Cabaldon opened the event by announcing the May mileage challenge has been doubled to two million miles for the Sacramento region. He said the previous one million mile challenge had been met the last three years. Cabaldon said 43% of commutes and 72% of other trips in the Sacramento region are under six miles. Noting the flat terrain and dry weather of the area, Calbadon said, "Using a bicycle is a real option here, more than almost any other place in the country."
Atkins spoke about the importance of bicycle safety, stressing the value of wearing a helmet. "Wearing a helmet reduces head injury by 85%," said Atkins. "At our trauma room we see kids come in, whether they're on bikes, scooters, skateboards, if they don't have a helmet on, adults as well, that's when we see the major injuries."
Atkins reminded the audience that adults are role models for their kids when it comes to wearing a helmet.
Laurie Litman and Dale Steele live in midtown and ride their custom-built folding bicycles as much as possible, including to farmer's markets and joining friends for coffee. Steele lives three miles away from his office at the Department of Fish and Game, yet he rides a longer 15 mile round trip commute to enjoy the benefits of riding. Litman has pledged to ride 350 miles in May, which she says will be a challenge because she works from home and does not have a commute. Litman and Steele have taken their bikes on Amtrak and plan to take some extended bike trips along the East Coast in the future. Litman is also a member of 350Sacramento, an organization that supports local initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Kevin Chin brought his 4 1/2 year old son, Cody, from Davis to the Bike Month kick-off. Chin said his family cycles every day. Cody proudly said he has been riding without training wheels for about a year.
Tricia Hedahl, Executive Director of Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates, led a bike ride through the downtown area. Hedahl explained the ride was intended to show riders safe routes in downtown.
Cyclists can register at www.mayisbikemonth.com and log their cycling miles. This year cyclists have the option to use their Facebook accounts to display their miles and challenge friends to ride. The website also lists cycling events throughout May and Pedal Saver Businesses who offer discounts to Bike Month participants.
Majors sponsors of May is Bike Month are 511 Sac Regional Rideshare, Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District, Sacramento Area Council of Governments and Sacramento County Department of Transportation.
More information can be found at the May is Bike Month website.
Ron Nabity is a photography and writing contributor for Sacramento Press. Ron is also an avid bicyclist and has pledged to ride 100 miles in May. (13 miles were logged for this story.)