What do you get when you cross 8 cans of spray chalk, 52 traffic cones, and about 80,000 daily State Fair visitors?

No, it’s not a joke. New York Bicycle Coalition staged a pilot event as part of the New York Experience at the State Fair in Syracuse.

40178257 2289514004422124 5690608466339561472 oFor three days in August, State Fair visitors tested out e-bikes, folding bikes andmountain bikes in a makeshift "pop up" bike lane. More accurately, it was a cycle track, which is a protected two-way street for bikes only, a complete streets design solution we hope will be coming to your NYS neighborhood or community soo

Over 300 riders tried out electric bikes for the first time. Some were already serious cyclists, while others would likely not ride at all if not for the assistance the light motor provides on the Class 1 pedal assist Oyama electric folding bikes provided by NYBC Board Member Ken Fagut. Accell North America generously let us borrow a mountain bike and a touring bike, and NYBC Deputy Education Director Tom Polk brought other bikes to add to the mix, including kid-sized offerings for those only recently liberated from training wheels.

 Since the cycletrack separated a popular picnic area from some food stalls, we chalk-painted proper pedestrian cross walks as well. Cyclists were told to stop for people on foot, since that is the law in New York. Pedestrians were pleasantly surprised when they were told they may cross before the rider started up again.

NYBC staff and volunteers from as far as Buffalo, Ithaca, Albany and Rochester distributed thousands of pieces of our bike-ped safety education material developed with funding from the Governor's Traffic Committee - pocket guides, RESPECT rack cards, magnets with safe cycling messages, ABC Quick Check bookmarks and much more.

Besides riding in the pop-up cycle track, many fair workers commuted by bicycle throughout the fair to get to their shifts. This definitely added to our message that “cycling is everywhere, and for everyone.”

In fact, more important than even getting hundreds of folks on bikes is the idea that the tens of thousands of daily fairgoers seeing bikes and a pop-up protected bike lane provides an unconscious cue that biking is "normal" and fun, a lifetime skill that encourages health and wellness, and is a source of active no-carbon green transportation! 

We’d like to extend great thanks to our friends at Ag & Markets, NYS DOT and the Governor's Office, who supported us throughout the process of designing and staging this event. Also, we could not have done this without our hearty volunteers, who fitted helmets, raised and lowered saddles, answered many questions and set the vibe that riding a bike is easy - and fun!

See you next year at the Fair!