Friday, May 15th, 2015 is Bike to Work Day, a centerpiece of activity for National Bike Month (the month of May). Bike to Work Day is an opportunity for people to change their transportation habits and interact with their community in a different way. This year, the City of Parkersburg in conjunction with Highmark West Virginia will be providing riders with a unique Bike to Work Day experience. At 7:00 a.m., riders will meet at the City Park and travel to the Highmark building located in downtown Parkersburg. Highmark has been gracious enough to offer a light breakfast for all riders between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.

The morning ride will use the Crosstown Connector and Little Kanawha Connector trails. These trail systems are close to completion, with additional work being completed on the Little Kanawha Connector in the near future and the Crosstown Connector’s South Parkersburg route being finalized this year. Both of these trails are the major bicycle corridors for the City of Parkersburg, and have other planned connections to trail systems in the State of West Virginia, as well as national trail networks.

But wait! There’s more! That evening, a downtown bicycle ride is planned to leave from the Point Park Marketplace at 6:00 p.m. This ride should take under an hour and is a family friendly ride. We will be traveling on low-speed active roads, so helmets and lights for all riders are strongly encouraged. The route for this ride will include the Historic Trail and Juliana Loop, which is a fancy way of saying going up Avery Street, around the Juliana Historic District and coming back down Market Street. Once we get back to the Point Park Marketplace, riders are free to enjoy the festivities at the Marketplace which will be opened for an additional hour that evening.

Let’s be real though, you don’t have to be riding to work to take part in this event. The League of American Bicyclists, the people behind Bike to Work Day since 1956, encourages everyone to use bicycles as a transit choice. Both events are open to everyone, and even if you can’t make it out for the group rides, please come out to downtown in the morning or the Farmer’s Market in the evening. There is going to be a party, and you’re invited!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetOn a deeper level, riding a bike has so many benefits in regards to health, cost, environment, safety, and appreciation for the community. It just makes sense to get out of the car every once and a while. From my own experience, getting back on the saddle after a twenty year hiatus changed my view of how people interact with the world around them and also helped me get rid of a few pounds in the process. When you are in a car, you can feel the existing potholes, but you may miss the brick-lined backdrop; you may see the blur of a neighborhood, but you will miss the view of a planted garden and shaded street. Seriously, your selfies look better when you aren’t in a car.

Throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley, communities are planning for increased bicycle transit and trails. National trails are planned to connect all of the cities in the MOV to one another and to other destinations in the United States. Ohio River trail connections will allow riders to cruise from Point Park to the Vienna Mall and over to Marietta. Everyone can appreciate the economic impact that these corridors will produce while providing countless hours of low cost recreational opportunities for local residents.

Public organizations like the Parkersburg Bicycle Advisory Board in Parkersburg, the Mayor’s Alternative Transportation Advisory Committee in Marietta, The Wood County Alternative Transportation Council, and efforts by the cities of Belpre, North Hills, Vienna, and Williamstown, are helping to advance transportation choice in the Mid-Ohio Valley. Not to be outdone, corporate partners and volunteer organizations such as the local Chambers of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureaus, and Parkersburg Bicycle, Lapping the Couch Adventures, and Marietta Adventure Company, provide opportunities for everyone to ride a bike today and ensure more people will be able to ride a bike tomorrow.

So, tell your friends, tell your family, tell your boss: You’re riding your bike to work on Friday, May 15th, and they should too.

For more information related to Bike to Work Day and the League of American Bicyclists, check out their website.