• Posted Jun 5, 2012

How do you breathe new life into a 10-year activity, such as Bike to Work Week? That was the question in Bike Month organizers’ minds last fall.

The answer? Create a newchallenge to shift the bike community into the next decade.
The Des Moines Bicycle Collective(Collective), a nonprofit community bike project advocating for bicycling as aviable mode of transportation, has organized Bike to Work Week/Bike Month since 2009 when volunteers turned to the organization to serve as the umbrella for the this annual May educational program. Biking to work in central Iowa began in 2003, when a small group of volunteers tapped into a national movement.

“We have had great success in the first 10 years,” said Carl Voss, Collective board chair. “Unveiling theBike Commute Challenge this year allows us to have a friendly competition each May, but more importantly, it gives employees and employers a free tool to track their miles year-round.”

Organizers tout that the numbers over the years have served as statistics for decision makers as they determined how to include bicycling in future transportation plans. Bike racks on DART buses, bike lanes, sharrows, the B-cycle bike-share program, bike masterplans and more have been supported by the increasing number of cyclists over the last decade. The Bike Commute Challenge, sends a new message.

“People are no longer biking to work one day or one week out of the year,” explained Voss. “The Bike CommuteChallenge recognizes those workplaces with the highest percentage of bicycle commutes for the entire month.”
Nearly 1,000 people participated in the new, fun and friendly competition, to see who could bike towork the most during the month of May. With over 124 teams participating, morethan 47,000 miles were collectively logged during the month. The top commuter, Paul Prentice with Architectural Arts, logged 1,017 of those miles himself.

“Biking to work is my normal,” explained, Prentice. “Last year, I logged around 5,200 miles and this year, I am already at 3900. On cold days, I take the direct route (10 miles oneway) and on the nicer days I have three different routes to choose from ranging from 15 to 25 miles one way.”

Prentice shared that biking to work or school is a family affair. His wife will bike to work when possible (a 9 mile one-way commute) and both of his boys bike to school daily.

Fifteen riders reported a100% bike commutes month during May’s near-perfect riding conditions; 33 riders recorded 90% of more of their work commutes via bike. Even better: 80 first-time bike commuters signed up for the Challenge. The Bike Commute Challenge recognized 12 categories, allowing small and large workplaces to compete based on the percentage of employees that participated. The winners will be recognized during an award party at Gusto’s Pizza on Wednesday, June 6 from 5:30 to 7:00 pm. Paul Trombino, director of the Department of Transportation and an avid cyclist, will present the awards.

“We didn’t sign up to ‘win’,”said Clayton Kennedy, of Benchmark Coaching, winner in the 5-24 business category. “We found the month to be such excellent biking weather that we really got into it – and, it helps when drivers are polite and go out of their way to give enough room (6 foot or more) to make the ride comfortable and safe. I think drivers and cyclists are starting to better understand one another.”

Award Winners

  1. Creative Resource Group, Businessesand Nonprofits, 1 employee
  2. Center on Sustainable Communities,Businesses and Nonprofits, 2-4 employees
  3. Benchmark Coaching Center,Businesses and Nonprofits, 5-24 employees
  4. RDG Planning & Design,Businesses and Nonprofits, 25-99 employees
  5. August Home Publishing, Businessesand Nonprofits, 100-499 employees
  6. Pioneer, Businesses and Nonprofits,500+ employees
  7. Des Moines Area MPO, PublicAgencies, 1-24 employees
  8. Air Quality Bureau, Iowa DNR, PublicAgencies, 25-99 employees
  9. Iowa Public Television, PublicAgencies, 100-499 employees
  10. City of Des Moines, Public Agencies,500+ employees
  11. Beaverdale Bicycles, Bike Shops, 1-8employees
  12. Bike World Urbandale, Bike Shops,9-15 employees

TOP CAPTAIN (nominatedby team members)

Heidi Wych


Paul Prentice
1,017 Miles

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