Mayor of the City of Boca Raton, Susan Haynie officially proclaimed March 2016 Bicycle Month on. She is happy to announce that Boca Raton now has over 57 miles of bicycle lanes and 36 miles of bike/shared use paths. She encourages all residents to participate in bicycle related-activities in March and thereafter. To celebrate bike month, the City of Boca Raton will be hosting a 3-mile downtown bike ride with Mayor Haynie and the City Council during the WPEC CBS 12 Health and Wellness Fair. The fair is held at the Mizner Park Amphitheater on Saturday March 19th, on Ride Day. The fair is from 10am-4pm and Mayor Haynie and the City Council will be on wheels! Bike America will be an event sponsor and will outfit the entire City Council with bikes and gear. Bike America will also provide a bike safety exhibit during the event and they will raffle off apparel and accessories. The bike-themed event will be an excellent opportunity for the community to venture out and ride a bike.“With National Bike Month approaching, we are thrilled to have such a dedicated cycling enthusiast involved with our community and what a better way to recognize their importance of healthy and safety to proclaim a special day!” stated Mayor Haynie. Boca Raton, Florida- Florida’s streets and roadways unfortunately are becoming known in an infamous way. According to USA Today and newspress.com, the Sunshine state has long been the most lethal in the nation for bicyclists, which Bike America has launched an informational campaign to correct. “We have to start preventing Southwest Florida from often ranking in the top 10 in the state for bike fatalities and crashes,” said Bike America co-owner Gary Mercado. “Accidents happen due to lack of safety education, distracted drivers texting or on their phones, underequipped cyclists and sometimes bad weather,” Mercado said.. The Economist stated that in 2012 some 120 cyclists were killed in traffic accidents across Florida. “That is as many as were killed in Britain in the same year–a country with three times as many people as Florida and a lot more cyclists. Florida’s death rate for cyclists is three times higher than the national rate!” www.theeconomist.com The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles 2014 Traffic Crash Facts Annual Report ranked Palm Beach County fourth highest in the State of Florida for the total number bicyclists (513) injured and fifth highest for the total number of pedestrians (564) injured. Furthermore, Palm Beach County ranked fourth highest in the State of Florida for the total number of bicycle (7) and pedestrian (35) fatalities. It is important to reduce these numbers while promoting active transportation and community health. “At the MPO we are working with our transportation partners and municipalities to promote bicycle and pedestrian safety through engineering, education, enforcement, and encouragement,“says Valerie Nielson, Transit Coordinator , Palm Beach MPO. In 2013 the state published a safety plan to try to reduce the accident rate, and it has hired several staff to try to look out for the interests of cyclists and pedestrians. One great example of their efforts is Florida Bike Month (March) which is done in the same spirit of National Bike Month (May is National Bike Month since 1956). Florida cyclists get to celebrate twice. Florida celebrates Bike Month in March because of warmer weather. The proclamation mentions bicycles as a means to travel and their potential to promote health and reduce air pollution and chronic diseases such as diabetes and asthma. Florida Bike Month encourages people to get out and ride a bike to work, to school, shopping or just to enjoy life. Bike America (www.bikeam.com) sums it up in their great slogan, Enjoy Life…Ride a Bike. Valerie Neilson is excited about another Florida bike effort www.BikePalmBeach.org which provides a direct connection for users looking specifically for related information and activities about community events and resources of interest to the bicycling community in Palm Beach County and south Florida. The Palm Beach MPO is also organizing a Commuter Challenge (www. PBCommuterchallenge.org) to promote active transportation and transit ridership during Florida Bicycle Month of March. “We are encouraging our local communities to participate in this challenge, talk about bike safety and organize bicycle events throughout the month as well as add them to our www. BikePalmBeach.org calendar,” says Neilson. “It’s fantastic to see all of these efforts from state, county and city officials to propel cycling and to keep cyclists safe. Pedals up!” – exclaimed Steve Barnes co-owner of Bike America. About Bike America Bike America (www.BikeAM.com) has eight locations throughout Florida, including two in Boca Raton. They offer the best personal service, safety tips, gear and fit bikes for the beginning cyclist up through the most advanced rider. For more information on bike safety, arranging events or rides please visit www.BikeAM.com.