Juneau recognizes Bike to Work week

Juneau Freewheelers encourage locals to leave the car at home

Posted: Tuesday, May 12, 2009

In a region where the rains seem to reign supreme, biking enthusiasts may seem few and far between. But this week the Juneau Freewheelers, a local cycling group, is making an effort through the annual "Bike to Work Week" and "Bike to Work and School Day" to raise awareness and enthusiasm for alternative means of transportation.

Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

"It's about encouraging people to travel differently than they normally do, to get out and give cycling a try, to find out how fun it can be," said Barb Kelly, Bike to Work coordinator for the Juneau Freewheelers.

And participating riders in Juneau will not be riding alone. In fact, the entire month of May is bike awareness month. People from all over the nation will be leaving their car keys at home in an effort to raise awareness and do their part to help the environment and boost their health.

This is the second year the Freewheelers have hosted a full week of activities, as opposed to one day.

Kelly said she hopes the week of activities will give people more opportunities to get out of their cars and onto their bikes, but that it also gives residents a chance to participate in the "10,000-mile Capital Challenge," which challenges participants to cover 10,000 miles over the course of the week.

Last year, 58 participants logged just under 3,000 miles on the group's tracking website at velog.com/group/juneau-bike-week. The site functions much like Twitter or Facebook, allowing users to upload a photo, share descriptions about rides, track mileage, join groups and make "friends."

Kelly said 63 members are already riding and logging daily. Progress can be tracked on seamonsterak.com/bikeweek and as of press time Monday, users had tallied 204 miles.

Kevin Maier, a local bike racer and member of the Juneau Freewheelers, set up the website for users.

"Velog is like Facebook for cycling. It's kinda nice to know when and where people are riding," Maier said.

"It makes you feel like you're part of a group," Kelly said. "And you can actually e-mail or invite other people and 'friends' to go for a ride."

But not just biking counts. Nearly any type of alternative means of transportation can be logged. Whether it's riding the bus, walking, biking or commuting with a large group of friends or co-workers, it counts.

With the forecast calling for sun most of this week, the weather could help the event.

"This is a great opportunity," Kelly said. "Ask friends for advice, take your bike out and give it a once over, find out just how enjoyable cycling can be."

• Contact Abby Lowell at 523-2271 or abigail.lowell@juneauempire.com



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