The Nature Conservancy logo. Protecting nature. Preserving life.Margaret Southern, Cool Green Science’s green blogger, is posting about getting ready for spring biking season.

May 21 is National Bike to Work Day — a day in which people across the country are encouraged and supported in their efforts to commute to work by bike. In fact, the entire week of May 17-21 has been declared Bike to Work Week.

Don’t bike commute yet? Now is the perfect time to give it a try! In many urban areas, local bicycle organizations offer maps, commuting advice and even early-morning events along popular biking routes.

Check out the League of American Bicyclists to find a sponsored event near you. (I’m looking forward to stopping at one of three pit stops in Arlington, Va., with live music, snacks, and the coveted free T-shirt.)

Commuting by bike just takes a little planning, and the benefits include saved money, extra calories burned and, of course, a small carbon footprint.

Already a bike enthusiast? It’s still important for you to participate in Bike to Work Day. Here’s why:

The number of bikers in America continues to increase. With increasing gas prices, concerns over the environment and sedentary jobs, the reasons for jumping on two wheels just keep adding up. But despite all that, bikers and their needs are often not heard or even understood.

And on a rare occasion, this lack of understanding has led drivers to act aggressively against cyclists. Take, for example, including the North Carolina firefighter who shot a cyclist who had his son in tow. Or the California doctor who purposefully injured two cyclists.

These stories aren’t meant to scare anyone away for bike riding. I’m on my bike for several hours a week and have rarely had anyone show the slightest bit of aggression toward me.

But the incidents just go to show that the more cyclists there are, the more people understand how to share the road and the better the communication between cyclists and motorists, the fewer accidents there will be.

So getting involved in your local bicycling community or events like Bike to Work Day is important to help bring changes in bicycling safety, awareness and regulations. And as the cycling and environmentally conscious communities continue to grow, changes are beginning to take place.

Here in Washington, D.C., bike lanes are “hitting the big time,” with dedicated bike lanes proposed for the downtown area. The center lanes of Pennsylvania Avenue, running from the White House to the Capitol, would be reserved for bikes only!

And just last month, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the government will give bicycling and walking the same importance as cars in transportation planning. The new policy is an extension of the Obama administration’s livability initiative, which regards the creation of alternatives to driving as a key component of solving the nation’s transportation problems.

So let’s all get on our bikes May 21 and show our neighbors, friends, coworkers and decision-makers that cycling is here to stay!

— Text by Margaret SouthernCool Green Science Blog

Get in gear for spring bike season: Bike to Work Week
Find out how you can start commuting to work by bike and why more bikers on the roads will actually mean enhanced bike safety.