By Baylee Pulliam
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Bikers and bikes of all shapes, ages and sizes met Friday to pedal around Shadyside Lake.
The event kicked off local May Bike Month festivities, a partnership between the city, the Anderson Spoke and Wheel Club, Buckskin Bikes and the Madison County Council of Governments.
“It’s a great form of transportation,” said Allan Henderson, chief planner for the Council of Governments. “We’re really trying to encourage it.”
Festivities continue with national bike to work and school days and a bike rodeo, where kids ages five to 12 can have their bikes inspected, get a free helmet and advice from Spoke and Wheel Club members and other cycling veterans on bicycle safety and how to share the road with cars, runners and walkers.
That’s an important lesson for all age groups, said club president Chuck Baden, who led the 30-or-so kickoff attendees on a group ride.
“By bringing cycling groups together, we can raise awareness,” he said, “and hopefully they’ll be a little safer.”
The final Bike Month event is the all-things-bike celebration, which includes a family ride, raffle drawings, awards, street sprints and children’s bicycle parade.
Biking is “an important part of life” in Anderson, Mayor Kevin Smith said Friday. “Some do it out of necessity — it’s their way to get to work. But for others, it’s for fun, sport or good exercise,” which is why the Bike Month events tie in with Anderson first lady Anita Smith’s healthy living campaign.
An avid biker herself, she’d like to see more people take advantage of the “many wonderful opportunities for healthy activities here in Anderson” which can have a real impact on “healthy living and quality-of-life issues,” she said.
For example, Henderson said, bicycling can help ward off obesity, diabetes and heart disease by promoting exercise. According to this year’s county-by-county Indiana health rankings, Madison is in dead last for healthy behaviors.
“That’s why biking’s great,” Henderson said. “You’ve got all these health benefits, but there’s also a lot of other benefits.”
For example, economics. Assuming average car fuel economy and gas prices, a 15-mile daily commute could put a dent of hundreds of dollars in your annual budget. Plus there’s all those yucky car emissions and street congestion, Henderson said. “Any vehicle you can take off the road is great, whether by carpooling, public transportation or with a bicycle.”
Henderson bikes to work some days, and he hopes the May 17 National Bike to Work day will encourage others to do the same, with pit stops around Anderson offering free gifts and food to cycling commuters.
There’s also a corporate bike challenge, with awards for the business with the highest percentage of employees participating in Bike to Work Day. Cyclists can find more information and register on the Council of Governments website.
“There are just so many benefits,” Henderson said. “You’ve got the environment, exercise, health, economics, and it’s fun, too. Really, biking’s a win-win-win situation.”
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