Bike week saw drop in numbers, strong support from area employers

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The Cross City Trail was one route more than 100 commuters took during the recent National Bike to Work Week initiative. File photo.
The Cross City Trail was one route more than 100 commuters took during the recent National Bike to Work Week initiative. File photo.

The local push for participation in National Bike to Work Week held steady with previous events, but fell short of this year’s goal.

That’s according to numbers released by the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization (WMPO) this week as a follow-up to the weeklong celebration–aimed at promoting cycling as an eco-friendly, healthy alternative to driving–that was held between May 10 and 16.

The WMPO’s oversight area includes New Hanover and portions of Brunswick and Pender counties.

As in years past, the WMPO solicited advanced online registrations to gather data, which helps the city solicit funding for Bike to Work Week, as well as apply for a “Bicycle Friendly Community” designation from the League of American Bicyclists (LAB). LAB is the organization behind Bike to Work Week, part of the bigger National Bike Month.

This is the third year data has been collected to reflect local Bike to Work Week participation.

The most recent event saw 122 area residents participating, 38 shy of the WMPO’s goal of 160. It was also slightly less than in 2014, when 133 people biked at least one day during the week.

WMPO had hoped to have buy-in from 55 employers but counted only 38 who signed on in advance to participate.
The 122 riders biked a total 3,803 total miles, falling short of the 4,200 aim. Riders averaged 24 miles on their bikes throughout the week.

In all, WMPO estimated 148 gallons of fuel were saved during the event, saving in turn $1,714 in commuting costs. The mark had been set this year for 210 gallons saved.

Although numbers weren’t as high as hoped, the WMPO noted that several local businesses and organizations participated in an Employer Challenge, including: City of Wilmington, Live Oak Bank. LS3P Associates, nCino, Inc., New Hanover County, PPD, Two Wheeler Dealer, UNC-Wilmington and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Wilmington District.

Once again, UNCW garnered the most participation, 24, followed by the county, which had 12. LS3P Associates has the highest percentage of employee participation, approximately 26 percent, followed by Two Wheeler Dealer with 25 percent.

LAB has designated UNCW a Bicycle Friendly University, one of only six universities in the state to have received the accolade.