Bike The Woodlands Month returns with focus on kids, students Leave a comment

After a COVID-caused hiatus from activities in 2020, officials with the Bike The Woodlands Coalition are halfway through Bike The Woodlands Month and officials report the event has been successful so far in raising awareness of bicycling issues.

But, as with scores of other events and festivals, the 2020 version of the month-long bicycling extravaganza was called off in full due to coronavirus restrictions and safety measures.

Now, with new leadership on the coalition’s board and life returning to some sense of pre-pandemic normalcy, this year’s schedule of activities for Bike The Woodlands Month have been a rousing success, said Patricia Monticello Kievlan, vice president from Bike The Woodlands Coalition board.

“We are really pleased with how the month is going so far. We were founded in 2011 to promote bicycling in our community,” Monticello Kievlan said. “Our goal was to show the value of being a bicycle friendly community. It is excited to be able to continue that mission and to think about how promoting bicycling can build into all the things people in The Woodlands value. Our goal for bike month was to refocus on outreach to people who love to ride bikes but are not necessarily athletes with a specific focus on students and children and people who bike anywhere.”

Things heat up this week, as organizers have many events on tap including a celebration of “National Bike Anywhere” week.

On Tuesday, more events begin such as a Moonlight night ride that will kick off at 8 p.m; on Wednesday, the National Ride of Silence is set to honor those who were killed while bicycling; Bike to Work day is set for 6:30- 9 a.m., Friday and Bike The Woodlands Day is from 9 a.m, to noon on Saturday.

Another week of events is planned from May 24-31, and Monticello Kievlan said coalition officials hope residents in the township realize the value of biking for basic errands and trips.

“We are going to put out a couple of videos (this week) to promote when you would ride a bike. This is Houston and we’re realistic that people are mostly going to drive because distances are long and weather can be extreme,” Monticello Kievlan added. “(Bicycling) is great choice for just a 1 mile trip, if you need to go to the library or pop over to the grocery store to pick something up. (The videos) are helping people feel encouraged to bike for those trips, it takes more cars off the road and it allows busy parents to get an extra workout in, and you and can see the beauty of our community.”

New biking art contest

One new element this year is the “Why I ride” Community Art Contest, announced in a press release on the coalition’s website.

“For Bike Month 2021, Bike The Woodlands Coalition is inviting youth in our community to create images that express their love of riding bikes,” officials stated in the press release. “Up to five entries will be selected as the winners of the competition, and these winners will receive a prize and recognition on our Bike The Woodlands website and our social media pages.”

The deadline for students to submit their art work up to 5 p.m. May 28. The contest entry form is available online at the coalition’s website at: Why I Ride — Bike The Woodlands Coalition

“We’ve invited youth across the community to submit images about why they love to ride their bikes,” Monticello Kievlan added. “It can be a drawing, they can take a photograph. The only stipulation is it be their own work and a square. Winners will received a bicycle-related prize.”

Biking changing

As the pandemic hit the nation and the Houston region in March 2020, many residents began to bicycle more regularly than usual and biking traffic on township paths dramatically increased from prior years.

As more folks bicycled for fitness or running errands, a new issue has cropped up in The Woodlands — people seeking to end the the current ban on electric bicycles. The vehicles are considered motorized under township regulations, and hence are prohibited from the more than 200 miles of paths.

Two men recently spoke at township meetings pleading with officials to allow the electric bicycles, which have changed to be pedal-assist powered vehicles that go slower than older, throttle-controlled e-bikes.

C.T. Gooding, the new president of the Bike The Woodlands Coalition board, spoke at the April 28 meeting of the township Board of Directors and told officials e-bicycles have changed over the past 10 years to be safer.

“Texas state law is very friendly to e-bikes, treating them just like regular bicycles. The state law also allows local authorities to override the state law,” Gooding said during the meeting. “We would support The Woodlands Township removing their restriction and matching state law. This matter was recently raised at a township Board of Directors meeting by a Woodlands resident. I plan to follow-up with The Woodlands Township Parks and Recreation department to understand their viewpoint and what might be needed to make a change.”

Monticello Kievlan said the bike to school day was a rousing success, with children from kindergarten to high school ages and from more than a dozen schools participating.

“We also promoted bike to school day on May 5 in ways we had never done before. I got 13 local and private schools to commit to promoting bike to school day. I distributed more than 6,000 stickers. I happened to be driving home, and I saw a whole caravan of kids (on bikes) from Sally K. Ride (elementary school). There were probably 100 kids,” she added. “It was really special to see that.”

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