Watch out for cyclists on National Bike to Work day

Watch out for cyclists on National Bike to Work day

LAKEWOOD, OH (WOIO) - Friday is National Bike to work day. Thousands of Clevelanders will pedal around town.  Many will make a 15-20 mile trek all the way from cities like Westlake and Chagrin Falls.

The number of people who bike to work every day is increasing and so are bike paths in the area.  Those who ride to work regularly said they do it because it gives them a better sense of community, helps them lead a healthier lifestyle, and reduces their carbon footprint.

"Once you try it, you get outside, it just makes you have a better day," said Dr. Joy Marshall who's been biking for decades, actually since high school.

"I think cars are stupid. It's not necessary. We should be using our public transit systems and our bikes."

The family physician's commute to work is 15 miles by bike from her Cleveland Heights home, to her office downtown at 29th and Lorain. 

"It's really good for you, sitting in a car doesn't actually burn very many calories, doesn't improve your cardio-pulmonary fitness too much," said Dr. Marshall. 

More Clevelanders are ditching their cars for their bikes. According to the 2010 census, 2,800 Clevelanders said a bike was the main way they got to work. That's a 285% increase from the year 2000.

"We're the 5th fastest large metro area, with the number of people commuting to work. The 5th fastest growing," said Jacob VanSickle of Bike Cleveland.  

VanSickle says the options for biking are increasing too. Between 2013 and 2015, there was an 80% increase in bike facility mileage, meaning bike lanes, sharrows and trails.  This year that will jump another 21% with 17 miles expected to be added in the Cleveland area.  

 "We know folks that bike in from North Olmsted, North Royalton, from Westlake and Shaker Heights. It's just a matter of trying it once to see how it incorporates into your commute. Once you do it, we know you'll be hooked," said VanSickle.

The National Bike to Work Day in Cleveland ends with a party from 7am-9am at the Bike Rack on E. 4th Street.  That's where regular bike commuters often stop before work to shower, store their bikes or get any needed repairs.

The RTA is also offering free rides for bikers. They encourage you to shorten your commute by hopping on a bus or train, riding closer to the city and then biking from that location.

Bike Safety

Regulars are also offering safety tips for those who might be making the commute to work via bike for the first time.

Ashley Shaw hasn't owned a car for three years. She's been biking so work for seven years, since she moved to Cleveland from LA.  She says she's had a few close calls with cars on the road, but she's never been hit.  Her advice for motorists is to avoid distractions and pay more attention to the road.

Shaw says for bikers, "Always wear a helmet and bright colored clothes."

And as for a few rules of the road: "Some people perceive it to be safer to bike on the sidewalk or to bike facing traffic but actually that's dangerous for other cyclists, pedestrians and cars and yourself."

Ohio law does not require adult bikers to wear a helmet.  Children, however, are required to wear one.

New Bike Share Program Launching Soon

We're also learning about a new bike share program launching in Cleveland in July.  University Hospitals, Cuyahoga County and Bike Cleveland are among the organizers.

"There's going to be 250 bikes and 30 stations across the city. You'll be able to pick up one where you're at.. bike it to any destination in the city to get around on a bike," says VanSickle.

There will be stations Downtown, in Tremont, Ohio City and University circle.

They're still working on cost, but VanSickle says expect $2-$3 per half hour, or $20-$25 a month, for an hour a day. They estimate 75-thousand people a year will use these bike shares. They're smart bikes too, with solar powered gps locks. You'll be able to find and reserve them from your phone. The soft launch is in July. The complete bike share program will be up and running by August.

Program to Help Underprivileged Adults Get Bikes

St. Peter's Church in Cleveland on East 17th Street is celebrating a new program to help underprivileged adults 'Earn-A-Bike.'  Applicants have been taking classes on bike safety. Most have been walking or using the bus as their main form of transportation. They say a bike would help them get around town and more importantly, to work.

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