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May is National Bike Month. To celebrate, organizations across Lincoln are providing lots of opportunities for riders of all skill levels, ages and backgrounds to get outside and enjoy the city on a bike.

The National Bike Challenge begins May 1 and runs through Sept. 30. Help Lincoln win top honors for a fourth year in a row by signing up at lovetoride.net. Encourage your kids to participate in National Bike to School Day on May 8 by putting on helmets and riding their bikes to school. Learn more at BikeWalkNebraska.org and check with your school to see if they have special activities planned.

Bike to Work Week kicks off May 10 at the Jayne Snyder Trail from 7:30-9 a.m. with refreshments and information on various bike programs, routes and the new City of Lincoln Bike Plan. The week wraps up May 17 at the BikeLNK main office, 206 South Antelope Valley Parkway, with beverages and food from Code Beer from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Also, on Thursdays in May, the Great Plains Trails Network (gptn.org) will host “Tour de Lincoln” rides on trails in all four quadrants of the city.

So, why ride a bike?

Biking can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, as well as relieve depression, anxiety and other mental health concerns. It’s also a great way to save money on gas, reduce congestion on the roads, and breathe in cleaner, less-polluted air. You may even save some time by not having to sit in heavy traffic.

Yes, there are risks of having an accident on a bike. Similar to buckling up and staying safe in a car, wearing a bike helmet, good maintenance and knowing the rules of the road minimize risks substantially. And, if you wear your helmet, your child is much more likely to wear one, too.

Not sure where to begin?

BikeLNK (BikeLNK.bcycle.com), the City of Lincoln’s bike share system operated by Heartland Bike Share, has over 100 bikes available to check out around the downtown and east campus area. In its first year, BikeLNK riders have made over 35,000 trips, offset over 72,000 lbs. of carbon, and burned over 3 million calories. In its next year, BikeLNK hopes to launch an equity program that could include lower-priced passes at its new F Street station, and staff members are working with UNL’s Outdoor Adventures to research the possibility of adding adaptive bike-share options to their fleet.

Breaking down barriers

BikeLNK is also partnering with BicycLincoln (BicycLincoln.org) on a series of classes aimed at breaking down even more barriers to biking, including language, opportunity, awareness and knowledge. Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln, through a CDC REACH grant, helps fund the classes at the BikeLNK main office, held on the first Saturday of the month, May through October. Interpreters will be available in multiple languages. Topics will include maintenance, safety, the trail system, bike lanes and routes, commuting, and winterizing or riding through the winter months. The classes are free and aimed at giving new riders the confidence to be safe, healthy and happy bike users.

Trail Trek

The riding doesn’t stop in May. On Sunday, June 23, Trail Trek will be a great opportunity for riders of all skill levels and ages to explore trails around Lincoln and neighboring communities. All rides begin and end at Haymarket Park and include a lunch as well as entertainment by the NoWear BMX Stunt Bike Team. For more details or to register, go to gptn.org/trailtrek. For more information on biking in Lincoln, visit bike.lincoln.ne.gov, or check out the LNKTV Health “Health and the City” video playlist on YouTube.com/LNKTVhealth.

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Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln (HealthyLincoln.org) and LNKTV Health (LNKTVhealth.lincoln.ne.gov) bring you Health and the City, a monthly column that examines relevant community health issues and spotlights the local organizations that impact community wellness. Direct questions or comments to jpearsonanderson@healthylincoln.org.

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L Magazine editor

Mark Schwaninger is L magazine and Neighborhood Extra editor.

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