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How has the bicycle challenge withstood the test of time?

[BY S. SALMI]

The Thurston County Bicycle Commuter Challenge is a good example of a successful social-change effort. The initiative is celebrating its 30th anniversary by unveiling a new website that has some cool features. For example, you can now create an account and log your miles online. The new site is also mobile-friendly, so you can use your smartphone to add miles while you are on the road.

Another challenge, another well-designed poster.

The commuter challenge begins May 1 and runs through the entire month. The goal of the event is to encourage people of all ages and abilities to commute to work using a bicycle. According to the group’s website, the event “began in 1988 as a challenge between a few workplaces in Olympia with 30 people participating” but has steadily grown into a community-wide event.

A big step forward in institutionalizing the commuter challenge was when Intercity Transit began hosting the event in 2006. The challenge “has now become one of Intercity Transit’s many programs for improving mobility and the quality of life in our community,” states the group’s website.

Some types of social-change initiatives can be wildly successful by staying independent. In contrast, the commuter challenge is a good example of an initiative that could never reach its full potential without partnering with a county-wide transit agency. We are lucky to live in a community where all relevant parties recognized the value of joining forces rather than clinging to their little bit of turf.

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