6 Ways to Promote Cycling in Your Community

This month is National Bike Month, so we want to highlight how cyclists can give back to their community. Since biking is such a great way to improve health, contribute to a cleaner environment and build community, getting more people to ride is a great thing to do!

So, without further ado, here are some great ideas for how you can promote cycling in your community!

1. Just ride a lot!

Cycling around town

One great way to promote riding is to just do it. There is nothing like seeing riders on the road -- especially casual riders in normal clothes on upright, comfortable bikes -- to increase awareness of cycling and get more people out.

Some riders take things to the next level, purchasing tandems, child seats, and trailers for large loads (or even kayaks!) that serve double purpose: they are functional and also demonstrate that biking can be more than just exercise and racing.

As you ride around your neighborhood, talk to people in your community. Slide in a comment here and there about cycling and how great it is -- how it's helped you improve your mood, lose some extra weight or contribute to a cleaner environment.

2. Introduce friends and family

Reaching out to the people closest to you is a great way to find more riders. Speak honestly about the joy and benefits you get from riding, and when family and friends show interest, offer to help them find a bike and show them the ropes. Get a newcomer started on quiet streets and flat rides -- they won't be ready for the Tour de France right away!

If you have elderly people in your life, cycling might be a great way for them to get a bit of exercise and some fresh air. If they have decent balance and a modicum of athleticism, help them try it out!

3. Join (or start) an organization

If there are some great cycling-oriented groups in your community, join them! They likely have some wonderful, creative and fun programs to promote cycling, and by banding together with others, you can have a much greater impact than you would by yourself.

Santa bike ride

If there isn't already a cycling club in your community, consider starting one. Host cycling-related events, tables at environmental festivals and fairs, visit schools, and advocate in local government. More people are likely to join you, and an official group with a name and a list of members will have more impact than a lone crusader.

4. Hold an event

One great way to promote biking is to hold a community event, like a cycling fair, a community ride or a bicycle swap. Once you have a great idea, make some posters and an event on Facebook or Meetup, and reach out to community groups to spread the word.

If you're interested in holding an event like this, contact your local cycling clubs -- they may be interested in sponsoring the event, and at the very least they can probably help with event promotion. Make sure to place posters at libraries, schools, community centers, coffee shops and bike shops.

One great non-profit in Seattle holds an annual bike swap, where kids and youth are invited to come peruse bikes that people are selling or trading. It's an especially great event for young children, who may grow out of a bike every year. All they have to do is find the right size and negotiate a trade.

5. Offer cycle parking

One great way to promote cycling is to offer secure, easy parking for bikes. If you have a small business or live in an area where people visit often, you can simply purchase (or make) some bike parking racks and secure them out front. Another option is to petition the city to install bike parking in nearby business districts and outside public buildings such as libraries, schools and post offices.

Bike parking rack

Another great bike parking option that is becoming more and more popular is the bike valet. Often seen at farmer's markets, bike valets usually operate for free or a nominal charge. They use a numbered wristband matched with a bike tag and store bikes in a roped-off area with several attendants. It's very convenient, safe, and makes biking way more accessible -- no expensive, bulky lock needed, and no worries about forgetting your key!

6. Work with your local government

Attending city or county council meetings to propose and advocate for increased cycling infrastructure can make some big changes in your community. More and more municipalities are adopting cycling-friendly changes such as bike lanes, trails and bike parking.

The best options mirror those found in ultra bike-friendly places like The Netherlands: lanes that separate bikes from cars and reduce the danger of being "doored;" special consideration at intersections and traffic signals for cyclists; and human-scale, bikeable communities instead of suburban sprawl and strip malls. Making changes at this level can make a huge difference in the safety of lots of cyclists on the road.

In many cities, scenic roads are closed to vehicular traffic for a number of days every summer (usually Sundays), transforming busy through streets into quiet, open boulevards for cycling. The tradition in Seattle has been ongoing for 46 years! If your city doesn't have anything similar, consider contacting the local parks department and any cycling clubs that exist, and see if you can get some help together to advocate for this.

It's a great turnaround; a few days a year, the streets belong to bikes, not cars.

What have you done to promote cycling in your community? Let us know or give your suggestions in the comments below.