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Published: Monday, 5/11/2009

Promoters of bicycling to work are peddling incentives all week

BY TOM HENRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

In northwest Ohio, this week is designated as Bike Week '09.

In Columbus, it's called Bike to Work Week. On the federal level, it's called National Bike Week.

By whatever name it goes by, the goal is the same: encouraging people to consider using bicycles for more than just occasional recreation.

Ideally, officials would like to see more able-bodied souls make clean, energy-efficient bicycling and other modes of alternative transportation part of their regular commuting - at least whenever weather and scheduling make that practical.

Locally, a number of incentives and activities are being offered to promote pedal power:

•Throughout the week, TARTA is offering special 25-cent fares to commuters who use bike racks attached to buses.

•A family fun ride is scheduled for 6 to 7 p.m. tomorrow at Wildwood Preserve Metropark's visitor center.

•Bike to Work Day is Friday, with residents encouraged to bicycle to their jobs. In Toledo, downtown-bound riders can meet up at Ottawa, Detwiler, and Walbridge parks at 7:30 a.m. to travel in groups.

•Westfield Franklin Park will be host to a bicycle safety event Friday.

•Toledo Green Drinks, a group founded in 2007 to promote low-impact lifestyles and tasty beverages, is to be host to a ride on Saturday. Participants are to gather at the Toledo Farmers Market at 10 a.m., then depart for Manhattan's restaurant on Adams Street for food and music.

For Jared Steele, 37, bicycling in recent years has become a regular mode of transportation between his home in Perrysburg and his job in the benefits department at Owens Corning downtown.

He said he makes the commute by bicycle primarily for fitness.

"It's a good way to get the training in without doing a whole separate block of time," Mr. Steele said. "For the most part, people are watching out for you when you're on your bike. But you have to be defensive."

He said he believes more people would find commuting by bicycle viable if they would give it a try.

Several branches of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library system will have bicycling displays during the week, according to the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments, which is coordinating Bike Week '09.

A kickoff event in recognition of statewide efforts to promote more bicycle commuting is scheduled for the west lawn of the Ohio Statehouse at 8:30 a.m. today.

The Ohio Department of Transportation reminds motorists to share roads with bicyclists.

In 2008, Ohio had 2,031 crashes between vehicles and bicycles, resulting in 18 deaths and 1,582 injuries, the agency said.

The state transportation department said it has spent $46.7 million since 2003 to help pay for 90 bicycle and pedestrian projects.

Those projects include creation of bike paths and bike lanes and improving bikeways now in place.

Contact Tom Henry at:

thenry@theblade.com

or 419-724-6079.



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