Get out and start peddling
We survived the nearly unendurably long winter and I think its safe to say spring has finally arrived!
Thank goodness. We can finally get serious about heading outside and enjoying ourselves.
So it’s May already and I, for one, am pretty darn busy. Lately my thoughts revolve around juggling my family, my job, enjoying regional activities and upcoming events, planting my garden and getting my outdoor living space ready for summer’s various get-togethers. I’m exhausted just thinking about it! But I digress; did you know that May is National Bike Month? No? Well it is! It’s also National Barbecue, Hamburger, Salad and Photo Month? Apparently May is a heck of a month!
May is usually a month of warm sunshine and bright skies, which just so happens to make it the perfect time for bikes. National Bike Month is sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists and celebrated in communities from coast to coast. Established in 1956, National Bike Month is a chance to showcase the many benefits of bicycling and encourage more folks to giving biking a try.
There are plenty of good reasons to consider biking. Plenty! Bicycling is an accessible means of physical activity for all ages and, when used for travel to work or school, can seamlessly incorporate exercise into your daily life.
Employers in the community benefit from a healthy, active workforce, as well. People who bike take, on average, 15 percent fewer sick days than non-cyclists, and generally accomplish more work.
Bicycling is a proven means of addressing cardiovascular health, lowers certain cancer rates and is available to all ages. What? Wow! Along with the physical health benefits, we can’t forget the stress relief and mental health benefits either. In fact, often those benefits have incredible impact on our physical health, too.
Bicycle commuting saves on parking fees, parking tickets, fuel costs, auto maintenance costs and transit fares. The average annual operating expense of a bicycle is just $308, versus more than $8,000 for a car. Talk about motivation to consider biking! And, even if only during the milder months, we’re still talking considerable savings and increased benefits!
Biking is good for business, too. National research in multiple cities has shown that patrons arriving by bike visit more often, stay longer and spend more money. With the amount of outdoor recreation opportunities in Schuylkill County, this easily translates into our economy.
Additionally, with the growing costs of employee and customer parking sites, many companies are looking for cheaper alternatives. It costs the same amount to build parking for 75 bikes as it does for just four cars. More bicycle use means a smaller carbon footprint and less air pollution, too. Like I said earlier, there truly are plenty of reasons to consider biking, whether incorporating more biking for relaxation and fun or considering it for your commute in our milder months of the year.
You may be thinking that Schuylkill County doesn’t have enough bike friendly areas but you’d be surprised just how much of Schuylkill County can be biked.
The Weiser State Forest is great for mountain biking. The Lehigh-New England Rail Trail, the John Bartram Trail, the Landingville Marsh Trail, Locust Lake State Park, Oldham Trail Bike & Walking Trail, Schuylkill Valley Heritage Trail and Swatara Creek State Park are just some of the great biking opportunities available in our community.
With the purchase of a pass, Famous Reading Outdoors has nearly limitless opportunities for you to explore and trail ride across spectacularly beautiful scenery.
Whether your thinking about biking around town, to work or for fun on the offhours, the important thing is to just get outside and start peddling! If you go to www. schuylkill.org or stop by the visitors center, you’ll find the online Schuylkill Trail Directory, the Schuylkill County Outdoor Recreation Map, the Northeast Pennsylvania Hike & Bike Trails map, Schuylkill River National & State Heritage Area Map & Guide, the Weiser State Forest Map & Recreation Guide and more. These resources will help you with your plans to get out and enjoy our plentiful outdoor recreation opportunities whether on a bicycle or on foot.
I talk often about the many opportunities Schuylkill County offers in outdoor recreation. We’ve got biking, hiking, fishing, camping, offroad motorsports and much more. Our great outdoors is one of our largest tourism assets.
This summer, we expect thousands of visitors in our state parks, at our campgrounds, hiking our trails and fishing our streams. They’ll also be visiting our unique cultural heritage attractions like Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine & Steam Train and Yuengling Brewery, at our many impressive events and in our hotels and our bed-and-breakfasts.
If you doubt me, all you have to do is visit Locust Lake State Park, any of our seven wineries, Kielbasi Fest, the Folk Art & Culinary Festival, Hawk Mountain, the Schuylkill County Wine Festival, Cruisin’ Pottsville, Jerry’s Classic Cars & Collectibles Museum and the Schuylkill County Fair to see for yourself.
Schuylkill County is a natural cultural heritage destination unlike any other and travelers know it. I’m hoping that you know it too and that you value the important economic impact it makes in our county.
For events of all kinds around the community, go to SkooCal, the official online calendar of events for Schuylkill County at www. skoocal.com and make your plans to get out and about in the beautiful month of May.