Local bike shops celebrate Bike Month with Bike to Work Day

Matt+Crosby%2C+shop+manager+of+Neutral+Cycle%2C+checks+Bethany+Carrol%E2%80%99s%2C+Champaign+County+Regional+Planning+Commission+member%2C+bike%C2%A0tires+during+Bike+to+Work+Day+on+the+Engineering+Quad.

Atoosa Sayeh

Matt Crosby, shop manager of Neutral Cycle, checks Bethany Carrol’s, Champaign County Regional Planning Commission member, bike tires during Bike to Work Day on the Engineering Quad.

By Atoosa Sayeh

According to Jeff Yockey, president of Champaign County Bikes, nearly 1,250 people participated, which is the highest turnout the local holiday has ever seen and a huge improvement from the 45 participants active in its first year, 2009.

Yockey said the the participation numbers are increasing due to biking’s rising popularity in Champaign-Urbana.

According to the American Community Survey, only 2.34 percent of commuters bike to work, but Champaign-Urbana ranks 14 on the list of America’s top cities for commuting on bike.

Yockey said a lot of people started riding their bikes to work after coming to Bike to Work Day for the first time.

“We know there’s just a lot of commuters in Champaign-Urbana, and Bike to Work Day is often the day that people decide they’re going to ride their bike to work for the first time,” Yockey said.

Nine local stations were spread around the city for the event, four of which were located on campus.

One of those locations was the Engineering Quad, where graduate student Grace Kyung was stationed as the head manager of the sign-up table. According to Kyung, about 200 participants were expected at her station.

Kyung said she joined Champaign County Bikes because she wanted to promote biking to people in the community.

“Essentially why it’s beneficial for people to bike to work is because it’s a sustainable mode of transportation,” Kyung said. “The more people who bike, the safer it is on the roads.”

Community members who participated in the event also said they believed biking to work promotes safety.

Glenn Mehling, participant and Senior Management Methods Analyst for the Office of Student Financial Aid, said he saw biking as a great alternative because it’s “hard to get around with a car on campus.”

The event also provided community members with a chance to help fundraise the construction of the Kickapoo Rail Trail. According to Yockey, the bike trail would connect Urbana to Danville.

“This trail will be the first extended dedicated bicycle path,” Yockey said. “Families and friends will be able to go for a long ride without having to worry about automobile or truck traffic.”

Bethany Carrol, participant and member of Champaign County Regional Planning Commission, said she participated in the event to help fund the trail.

“I think that the bike path will be really good because we really don’t have any way of going to St. Joseph – that really isn’t that far – by bike or walking,” she said.

Carrol said she rode her bike to work every day and heard about the event for the first time through her work colleagues.

In addition to providing participants with coffee, fresh fruit and T-shirts, free tune-ups were also made available through Urbana bike shop, Neutral Cycle.

John Bryniarski, head mechanic of Neutral Cycle, and Matt Crosby, shop manager of Neutral Cycle, were at the event all day to provide free tune-ups, such as filling tires with air or cleaning oil off of bike chains, for people who rode their bikes to work.

The University sponsored the event, as did local bike shops, restaurants, grocery stores, MTD and the Champaign County Forest Preserve Foundation.

[email protected]