From Harford County government:
(Bel Air, MD) – – Throughout May, Harford County residents will be encouraged to try a clean commute alternative for at least one day. When more people choose bicycling, transit, carpooling or vanpooling instead of driving alone to work, there are fewer cars, creating less pollution.
May is designated Clean Commute Month because it is the beginning of the “ozone season.” Ground level ozone becomes worse during warmer months when sunlight is more intense. In a recent study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, Harford County was ranked ninth in overall health outcomes in Maryland. Susan Kelly, Director, Harford County Health Department, states that Harford County is ranked as having the third worst air quality in Maryland with 24 ozone-heavy days.
Harford County’s goal in celebrating Clean Commute Month is to raise citizens’ awareness that there are local alternative transportation options they can use to get to reach their destinations. The fewer vehicles on the road equal a reduced amount of pollution. The Harford County Department of Community Services’ Commuter Assistance Program offers free ride matching services to help commuters find environmentally friendly, alternative transportation options such as bicycling, carpooling and vanpooling. Harford County residents also are encouraged to use the local Harford Transit Bus System, The MTA’s Commuter Bus service as well as Amtrak and the MARC train systems.
“One of the biggest issues facing commuters who are driving alone is their lack of knowledge about available commute options and how to access those options,” said Pat Fielder, Community Resources and Rideshare Coordinator for Harford County’s Commuter Assistance Program. “County events throughout May are targeted to draw attention to and educate residents about alternative commute choices.”
The Bike to Work Day Rally on May 21 is the signature event for Clean Commute Month. The bicycle is one of the most environmentally friendly means of transportation available to commuters. The other advantage to cycling is that it is one way to combat obesity, which has reached epidemic levels in the United States.
Bike to Work Day not only enables residents of Harford County to demonstrate their commitment to improving air quality by riding their bicycles to work, it also allows cyclists to network, win prizes and have fun. The Bike to Work Day event will be very special this year because it expanded to include two satellite rallies at Aberdeen Proving Ground’s Aberdeen and Edgewood locations.
Bike to Work Day is just one of the many activities planned to celebrate Clean Commute Month.
Harford County is fortunate to have many community partners who are supporting Clean Commute Month with various scheduled events. Through partnering with the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, the Bel Air, Aberdeen and Havre de Grace Police Departments, the Harford County Public Library and Harford County Public Schools, the entire community becomes involved and aware of bicycling, carpooling, and other transportation alternatives. These successful partnerships reach most age groups and are unique to Harford County.
Also unique to Harford County’s Clean Commute Month are the bicycling contests with Harford County Public Schools. The second annual “Green Pedal Essay Contest” will reward the young writer who best describes how riding a bicycle helps us keep the air cleaner. This contest is open to elementary-age students, kindergarten through fifth grade. The winner will receive a Mountain Trek bicycle courtesy of Chesapeake Cycle and Sport.
For the first time this year, middle school students can participate in the “Art in Motion” poster contest. The winner of this contest will receive VIP passes to the July 17-18, 2010 BMX-GT Air Show sponsored by Conte’s Bike and Fitness. These passes give the winner access to backstage, the performers, autographs, pictures and more.
Not to be outdone, five Harford County high schools are participating in a “Bling My Bike” contest.
These decorated bicycles will be on display at the Harford County Administration Building, 220 South Main Street in Bel Air. The high school who wins this contest will receive a $500 award courtesy of Bikefit Solutions, LLC for their school’s art department.
All contests are open and free to eligible students. Deadline for submitting is April 30. Call Pat Fielder at 410-638-3069 for more information.
Clean Commute Month Schedule of Events
MARC Train Commuter Appreciation Day
Harford County will kick-off the planned activities with a MARC Train Commuter Appreciation Day from 5:30 – 9:00 am at the Edgewood MARC train station. Harford Commuter Assistance and representatives from the Baltimore Metropolitan Council will be on hand at the Edgewood MARC Train Station to personally thank those commuters who choose to use the MARC train to reach their work destinations in the Baltimore-Washington corridor. System wide, up to 19,000 commuters use the MARC train Penn Line service (from Perryville to Washington DC) on a daily basis. More than 500 of these daily riders hail from points in Harford and Cecil County. “Ridership has definitely increased just in the last year,” states Harry Romano with the MTA. “It will only continue to increase with BRAC coming in,” he said.
Brought back by popular demand is the second annual Bike Rodeo at Abingdon Library from 5:30- 8:00 pm. Sheriff Jesse Bane will be on hand to support the registered participants as they go through safety training and test their skills on an obstacle course. Designed to teach kids about safety practices while riding a bicycle, the program focuses on the 5-12 year-old age group. To register, contact 410-638-3990.
Bike Helmet Safety (Be Safe! Bike Safe!)
Another special Harford County Clean Commute Month event brought back by popular demand will be free bike helmet fitting demonstrations at various Harford County Public Library branches. These sessions will occur from 6:00-8:00 pm at the Aberdeen, Abingdon, Bel Air, Edgewood, Havre de Grace and Joppa libraries. Free helmets will be provided to participants by the Gregory Krause Helmet Foundation.
Bike to Work Day Satellite Rallies at Aberdeen Proving Ground
For the very first time in the history of Aberdeen Proving Ground, the US Army’s Family Morale Welfare and Recreation (FMWR) organization, in partnership with Harford County, will sponsor two Bike to Work Day rallies – one each at Aberdeen and Edgewood. The rallies will be held for APG employees and CAC card holders on this day from 6:30-8:00 am. The emphasis for these rallies is the Cycle Smackdown, a competition which pits the garrison’s organizations (based on number of employees) against each other to see who can register the most participants to bike to work to celebrate Bike to Work Day. A trophy will be awarded to the division with the most registered employees biking at work on May 20. Aberdeen elected to host their rallies on May 20 to accommodate their RDO on Friday, May 21.
8th Annual Bike to Work Day Rally in Bel Air (Signature Event for Clean Commute Month)
Rain or shine, there will be a free Bike to Work Day Rally the morning of May 21 from 7:00-9:00 am at the Harford County Administration Building’s parking lot in Bel Air. “This is a great event that we look forward to each year,” said Pat Fielder. “Things are changing in Harford County. Everyday you can see more and more folks riding their bicycles. Not only are they riding their bikes recreationally but also getting on their bikes to make short trips to the store and of course, many folks are biking to work several times a week.
In Harford County there are a dedicated group of folks representing a wide range of companies and agencies who do commute by bicycle most days of the year. If we can encourage others to try it for just one day, then participants may choose to continue commuting to work via bicycle.”
The rally, emceed by Harford County’s own WXCY 103.7, will feature the winners of the Cycle Smackdown (formerly the Briefcase Challenge) competition held among Harford County organizations.
Winning is based on who registers the most employees biking to work on Bike to Work Day. Last year APG took the trophy in the large company category, while SAIC retained their title in the mid-size category. A division of LMI Consulting won in the small company category.
The Bike to Work Day Rally features County Executive David R. Craig, a bicycle parade with winners of the Harford County high schools “Bling my Bike” contest, the “Green Pedal Essay Contest” for elementary students, and the “Art in Motion” poster contest among Harford County middle schools.
Representatives from each winning school will serve as the parade’s Grand Marshals.
Once again Contes Bikes and Chesapeake Cycle and Sport are generously donating a Giant Cypress bike and a TREK® Lime bicycle respectively for all who register and come to the Bel Air Rally to participate in a drawing to win. Other prizes include gift certificates from area restaurants, gift bike rentals from Biller’s Bikes, prizes from the Ironbirds, bicycle paraphernalia from the Bicycle Connection, giveaways from Ripken stadium, and rounds of golf at Mountain Branch.
All Bike to Work Day registrants will receive the official tee shirt while they enjoy light refreshments and entertainment at the rally.
The Bike to Work Day Rally continues to grow each year and promises to be bigger and better than ever especially with the satellite rallies. “We would like to exceed our numbers from last year, but more important, we want people to consider commuting by using one of the cleanest forms of transportation- the bicycle, even if they only ride on Bike to Work Day,” says Fielder.
To register for Bike to Work Day go to www.harfordcountymd.gov/commuter and click on the Bike to Work Day icon.
Harford County Government Lunch and Learn
So maybe you rode your bike to the rally, but really want to improve your confidence riding on the road.
Maybe you haven’t ridden your bike in a long time and need a refresher course. Either way, if you are a Harford County employee you can sit in on a free lunch time seminar that stresses bicycle safety on the road.
You will learn tips and techniques that will make cycling fun and safe.
Clean Car Clinics- McFaul and Edgewood Senior Activity Centers
Another popular feature of Clean Commute Month is the Clean Car Clinic. There will be two scheduled Cleaner Cars, Cleaner Air clinics sponsored by the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, the Maryland
Department of the Environment, and the Harford County Department of Community Services’ Commuter Assistance Program. These clinics will be conducted at Harford County’s McFaul Activity Center and
Edgewood Senior Activity Center, Wednesday, May 26. The technicians will be at the McFaul Activity Center from 9:30 am -12:00 noon and from 2:00 -5:00 at the Edgewood Senior Activity Center. All center attendees are eligible to have their car inspected.
For more information about the scheduled events during Clean Commute Month visit
www.harfordcountymd.gov/commuter (click on the Bike to Work Day icon) or call Pat Fielder at 410-638-3069.
Also, make sure to check out the Bicyclist Survey
(http://www.harfordcountymd.gov/commuter/bicyclistsurvey.html), an effort to make Harford County a more bike friendly place to ride.