In spite of rain and a gray morning, hundreds of people biked to work in honor of Winter Park Bike to Work Day. One of them was Winter Park City Commissioner, Greg Seidel, who said, “This is our 4th annual Bike to Work Day and I had such a blast last year, I had to come back again!” Commissioner Seidel added, “This past year, Winter Park reached another milestone: we were designated a ‘Bicycle Friendly City’ at the silver level.” Only 120 cities nationwide are that level or higher but Winter Park has its sights set on gold.
While the event promoted riding to work, and hundreds did, it was also about fun and fellowship. A group ride in the afternoon, followed by a social hour at Park Social, capped off a day of biking in Winter Park. Representatives from the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, Rollins College, the City of Winter Park, Valencia Community College and many others joined the ride. Others came solo, like Zyhadi Yvonni, who said she rides her bike to work every day. She lives near Mead Gardens and rides to work at the Publix on Colonial near Shine. “It only takes me about 20 minutes and I enjoy the ride!” Zyhadi said.
The Group Ride reminds motorists, who saw a sea of riders filling the streets, that bicyclists are sharing the road – to watch out for them. It also encourages city leaders to think about safety and adding additional bike infrastructure. Another reason for the annual ride is to encourage employers to think about creating a supportive bike culture at work. Workplaces can provide showers at the office, station bike racks out front, or possibly work with insurance providers to reduce premiums for physical activity.
“Everyone wins when more people bike – to work or for recreation,” said Jill Hamilton Buss, a member of the Winter Park Transportation Advisory Board and a representative of Healthy Central Florida. “It reduces traffic congestion and pollution and it increases health, vitality and mood. All great cities are working to make their communities safer and more bike and walk friendly.”
The next big community bike event is “Bike 5 Cities” on May 5th. It’s a leisurely paced 30-mile ride through Winter Park, Orlando, Maitland, Casselberry, Eatonville and back to Winter Park. Last year, 500 people participated in the large group ride or took part in the shorter, kid-friendly rides in each city. More details coming soon from Bike Walk Central Florida. Make plans to join!