Bike month event planned in Merced

The Merced Bicycle Coalition and health advocates are challenging everyone in town to strap on a helmet and pedal themselves to work at least one day this month.

May is Bike Month, and National Bike-to-Work Day is May 16.

To encourage more Mercedians to participate, the Merced Bicycle Coalition, Merced County Department of Public Health, Mercy Medical Center and Golden Valley Health Centers have planned five stations in town that morning where cyclists can grab snacks or beverages on their way to work.

The so-called energizer stations are planned at Bob Hart Square, Main and Canal streets; Golden Valley Health Center, N Street and Childs Avenue; and UC Merced’s Recreation Center at the 5200 Lake Road campus. Mercy Medical Center will offer two stations – one at G Street and Mercy Drive, and the other at M and 27th streets.

This week, the Merced Bicycle Coalition, Merced County Department of Public Health and Golden Valley Health Centers also gave away 250 bicycle helmets to Merced and Winton elementary school children, according to a press release.

“Bicycling safety is a top priority for Bike Month,” said Lisa Kayser-Grant, a member of the bicycle coalition.

The organizers also taught bicycle safety classes to the children. Wednesday was Bike-to-School Day.

It is becoming increasingly easier to get around Merced on a bicycle. The 2013 Bicycle Transportation Plan adopted in September calls for more than 100 projects, including bicycle lanes, paved paths and stripes or shared-road markings – known as “sharrows.”

Since 2004, the city has completed 27 bike-related projects. The 2013 plan calls for $2.4 million in funds for the next three years, and 106 projects in five years.

About 47 miles of new Class II bike lanes are written into the plan; the city has about 30 miles of lanes now. Class II lanes are the most common and recognizable bikeways, the kind that run along a street and are separated by a white line.

Changes to bike infrastructure in Merced could increase daily ridership, according to estimates in the bike plan. Increasing lanes and other ways to cycle around town promotes fitness in Merced, as well as improving air quality and a cyclist’s carbon footprint.

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