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~Enjoy exercise and a zero-emission trip to the office on Bike to Work Day~

TALLAHASSEE  The Florida Department of Environmental Protection recognizes May as National Bike Month. First established in 1956 by the League of American Bicyclists, the month showcases the benefits of bicycling to promote personal and environmental health. According to the 2013 Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, nearly 25 million residents and visitors participate in bicycling in Florida annually. That includes more than 18.4 million bikers on paved trails and nearly 6.5 million bikers on unpaved trails.

“Bicycling is a fun, healthy activity for the whole family,” said Donald Forgione, director of the Florida Park Service. “Florida’s state trails provide a safe place to pedal along with beautiful scenery and opportunity to enjoy Florida’s famous sunshine.”

On Saturday, May 10, join us for the Blackwater Bicycle Festival at the Blackwater Heritage State Trail’s Visitor Center in Milton. See vintage bicycles or bring your own for the custom and vintage bicycle contest.

Bike to Work Day is celebrated Friday, May 16. Statistics show that more than half of the U.S. population lives within five miles of their workplace and with interests in healthy, sustainable and economic transportation options increasing, the number of bicycle commuters has grown 47 percent in 11 years. According to the American Heart Association, every $1 spent on biking trails and walking paths could save approximately $3 in medical expenses.

In addition to providing healthy exercise, bicycling is an easy way to travel between communities. Florida’s 10 state trails provide paved paths for bicyclists and others promote clean air and additional environmental benefits by reducing vehicle emissions. This is a great way to celebrate May as National Clean Air month.

In northwest Florida, the Blackwater Heritage State Trail winds through the historic town of Milton and extends eight miles north to the 1.5 mile Military Heritage Trail. In Palatka, two state trails offer biking options. The Palatka-to-Lake Butler State Trail stretches 47 miles through many small towns and communities while the Palatka-to-St. Augustine State Trail travels 19 miles through St. Johns and Putnam counties. The Withlacoochee State Trail is Florida’s longest rail-trail and runs through small towns, ranches and six distinct natural communities between Citrus Springs and Trilby.

Click here to view a list of state parks that offer bicycling as a recreational opportunity.

Helmet use is encouraged for all bicyclists and required for anyone younger than 16.