Sugar Land residents—along with several Fort Settlement Middle School students—are preparing for the fourth annual Bike to Work and Bike to School Day put on by Shape Up Fort Bend on May 8.
Registered cyclists gather at 7:30 a.m. at Sugar Land Memorial Park for a complimentary breakfast and leave by 8:15 a.m. Students traverse a 1.1-mile trail to school, while residents take the 4.2-mile ride to City Hall. Once the ride is completed, participants take a group photo on the steps of City Hall.
The bike ride is part of a series of national events put on throughout the country by the League of American Bicyclists. Shape Up Fort Bend works with the national organization to help educate motorists and cyclists about road safety.
"Last year we had about 60 riders," said Nicole Volek, assistant physical therapist and volunteer with Shape Up Fort Bend. "Every year we get new riders, and we are hoping to get to 100 [participants]. We get people from all over Sugar Land. [The city] is really becoming more of a biking area where a lot of people commute by bike."
Shape Up Fort Bend—formerly Shape Up Sugar Land—aims to promote healthy living through its events and educational material.
"We originally started this [event] to showcase the alternative mobility and connectivity that is in Sugar Land," Volek said. "Because Sugar Land is becoming "multi-mobile" so to speak, it is important for riders and vehicles to learn how to share the road."
When the program started in Sugar Land, it was only for cyclists wishing to bike to work, but the event was opened up to include local middle school students for the past two years.
"Fort Settlement is participating in a big way," Volek said. "Not only are Fort Settlement students coming for the ride, but they designed our T-shirt."
Shape Up Fort Bend held a school-wide competition to select a winning design for the event's T-shirt. Leonetti Graphics of Missouri City donated the shirts for the participants.
For next year, Shape Up Fort Bend is looking to work with Missouri City and officials from other neighboring cities to put on similar bike rides around the community.
"We started as Shape Up Sugar Land, but to grow in Fort Bend County you need to be able to diversify and work with the entire community," Volek said.