Friday, May 01, 2015

May is Bike Month in Downtown Tacoma - Love Your Mother

It was September 26th 1983 and all of my closest buddies were gathered at our small apartment for my 9th birthday party.

After returning home from some miniature golf, eating pizza, cake, and ice cream – it was time for presents. I had finished opening the various gifts from my friends when my mom directed me outside to the courtyard for my last present.

When I walked out the door, there she was, leaning on her black kick stand - the BMX bike I had been longing for.

Her chrome body glistened in the sunshine and the smell of new rubber tires filled the air. She looked like a bumble bee space ship, with her black and yellow checkered pads and grips, and her bright yellow mag wheels that made it look like I was riding on two fiery sun discs, as I pedaled at top speed on the cooling dark pavement of our street.

I loved that bike. I rode her to school, I flew her over jumps at the BMX track and learned to do some tricks on her, and I rode her all about town – she was a ticket to more freedom and mobility and she made me look good doing it.

Haven’t we all had a bike we've loved? Almost every game of name the best present you've ever received – includes a shiny new bike. For most of us, learning to ride a bike is a moment only overshadowed by learning to walk – it is a rite of passage.

I’ll be honest – I’m not much of a bike rider anymore. Like most teenagers, I turned my attention to the car, which I perceived gave me even more freedom and mobility, with air conditioning and without all of the butt sweat. Plus, at the time I was sure that all red blooded American boys were supposed to lose their virginity in the back seat of a car at a drive-in-movie – I mean nothing says romance like that, right?

Well, a whole new bike revolution has developed these many years later. Bikes aren't just for kids. Bikes aren't just for serious competitive cyclists or extreme sports enthusiasts. Bikes aren't something you settle for because you can’t afford a car. Bikes are something you choose, because well, we can’t afford not to.

The month of May is National Bike Month and all about downtown Tacoma (and Tacoma at large) people are celebrating and advocating for bike riding. They are advocating for bikes as a means of commuting to work, bikes for everyday transportation, bikes for a healthy body, and bikes for pleasure and connecting with your neighbors.

For the second year, the Harmon Brewing Company and Downtown On the Go bring you an I Bike Tacoma beer for the month of May to celebrate all people on bikes in Tacoma-Pierce County. The beer, the Harmon’s seasonal Honey Blonde, will be available at the Harmon Restaurant, Tap Room, The Hub, and The Hub Gig Harbor throughout May. A percentage of the proceeds will benefit bike events and promotions in Tacoma.

The 7th Annual Bike Swap kicks off Bike Month this Saturday at University of Puget Sound from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. followed by the Hub’s Annual Pray for Sun Party at 6 p.m.

Bike Month is a national celebration and in Tacoma-Pierce County, bicycle-related activities and events are planned for people of all ages and skill levels. In downtown we’ll be celebrating with commuter stations, bike trains, Bike to Market Day and the annual Commuter Challenge. See the Downtown On the Go Facebook page for more info.

New this year is the Bike Everywhere Challenge. Residents are invited to incorporate bicycling into their everyday transportation routines and to log their trips at, where they will be entered to win a number of exciting prizes. 

To learn more about events in your area during Tacoma-Pierce County’s Bike Month, visit

I have a nearly five month old son. He hasn't even learned to walk yet, but a few years following, there will be another rite of passage when we teach him to ride a bike. His mother loves to ride and already has plans for strapping him on with her this summer as she bikes about the city. I’ll break down and a grab a bike myself (probably at the Bike Swap), because I don’t want to miss those memories.

Sure, most of the time – I’d rather walk. I like to feel my feet on the ground more than the wind in my hair. But, I’m grateful for all of you bike riders and in particular for your commitment which creates a better quality of life for all of us.

I remember how much I loved my mother that day she gave me that bumble bee BMX. I hugged her long and hard that night before I went to bed and said, "Thank you for my bike, I love it. It’s the best gift you've ever given me.”

We celebrate a lot of things with Bike Month and I think
it is appropriate that it falls in the month of May when we also celebrate Mother’s Day, because one of the most important things we do with this celebration is hug our mother (Earth) - long and hard, and say thank you, and we love you.

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