How it started was simply watching Omaha have it’s own challenge, and how every year their challenge grew in participation to the point that their city officials had taken notice. Omaha’s challenge was having an impact on their city, in policy(encouraging more riders to speak out and be part of their community), economically (participants spending more at local bike shops and money saved on transportation and fuel cost was being spent locally), and giving something Omaha could brag about on a national level (think selling your city to corporations (bike friendliness is something they shop for)).
A few of us here in Lincoln wanted that.
At the start of last year, Waste Cap Nebraska, the Transportation and Land Use Committee, the Mayor’s Environmental Task Force, the Lancaster Health Dept, and BicycLincoln, invited Julie Harris of Activate Omaha to Lincoln to educate us on how Omaha made such a success of their challenge and how we could go about starting or own. Soon after this meeting the League of American Bicyclist came out that they where going to have a national bike challenge called the “Get Up & Ride” National Bike Challenge. Both Lincoln and Omaha signed on.
The ” Get Up & Ride” Challenge was sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists, Kimberly Clark Corporation, Trek Bicycle Company, and Bikes Belong. The Challenge had a goal of 50,000 people recording over 10 million miles of bicycling. Within this Challenge, cities competed on a local level within their own “homepage” as will as on a national level.
BicycLincoln, WasteCap Nebraska, and other local organizations worked hard encouraging Lincoln residents to take part in the 2012 “Lincoln Commuter Challenge”, our part in the national bike challenge, and take part Lincoln residents did! We had more than 880 riders, 99 teams, and 273 workplaces logging over 361,000 miles. At the end of the four month challenge we had nationally a top ten workplace (the University of Nebraska Lincoln), a top ten team (Pirate Cycling League), and a top ten bike shop (Cycle Works). And our great little capital city ended third! We ended up ahead of such nationally recognized bicycle “powerhouse” communities as Madison, WI, Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN, Portland, OR, and Boulder, CO. And Nebraska as a whole finished third too!
And again for 2013 we are back on board! The now simply named “National Bike Challenge” is already open for everyone to sign on and start logging miles.
The 2013 Challenge starts May 1st and finishes September 30th. But this “warm-up” gives us a chance to get-to-know the site, build teams, and get the word out. So help us spread the word! Start building those teams. Get people signed up and encourage them to log those miles! We are going to have prizes along the way and a great party at the end of our Challenge. And I hope at the end of this year’s Challenge we will be celebrating a GOLD finish nationally!!
And how did Omaha do last year? They finished 19th or something 😉