Local and national bike organizations are encouraging cyclists to ditch their cars this week for Bike to Work Week, a national celebration that aims to encourage people across the country to bike to work — or for pleasure — on a regular basis.
The week culminates in Bike to Work Day on Friday, held rain or shine, when cyclists can make a "pit stop" at one of 58 locations across the Washington metro region for T-shirts, refreshments, giveaways and bicycling advice.
In Arlington, where cycling enthusiasts are already well into Bike Month, you'll find three pit stops: Rosslyn Gateway Park, Freshbikes (formerly Conte's Bike Shop) in Ballston and Crystal City Water Park.
There are nine pit stops planned across Fairfax County. The two most popular stops are in Reston and Vienna, the latter of which is at the Washington and Old Dominion Trail's intersection with Maple Avenue. This year, Whole Foods Market, Bikes at Vienna and the Fairfax Association for Better Bicycling will have tents on the Vienna Town Green from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. for cyclists. Jeff Palmer from Spokes, Etc. will be on hand as well.
There will also be a pit stop near Merrifield, where the trail intersects with Sandburg Street, and at Tysons Corner Center's L.L. Bean on the flat lot directly in front of the store.
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U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., and Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette are scheduled to participate in Bike to Work Day in Rosslyn, and County Board Vice Chairman Walter Tejada is listed as participating in Ballston, according to event organizers.
The national celebration dates back to 1956, when the League of American Bicyclists started the public outreach campaign and event to encourage more biking. Since then, it's grown tenfold in the greater Washington region: Participation has risen from a few hundred in 2001 to 11,000 last year, according to the organization.
The celebration week, which falls shortly after the inaugural National Bike to School Day, comes at a time when Fairfax County officials are wrestling with how to implement infrastructure and public outreach programs with no operating budget. That county is looking to Arlington as a model.
Data from the American Community Survey shows Washington, D.C., as one of the country's 70 largest bicycling cities, with 3.1 percent of the total worker population reporting they bike to work — a statistic six times greater than the national average of 0.5 percent.
The League attributes the "bicycle friendly" cities' successes, in part, to the degree in which it promotes bicycling through education, encouragement, enforcement, evaluation and engineering.
A new report on the region's bicycling trends out of The Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute at Penn State shows Arlington at or near the top in most categories — 11 percent of Arlington County households are car-free, for instance, compared to 4 percent in Fairfax County.
Cyclists are encouraged to stop at as many pit stops as they'd like on Friday, but will need to register at one in order to pick up their free T-shirt.
For safety and commuting tips, check out advice the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA).