Bike Austin is gearing up for an anticipated increase in bicycle ridership May 19 for its sixth annual Bike to Work Day that encourages residents to trade their cars for bikes on their commute.

“The whole premise of this event is to get people out of their comfort zone and experience it for the first time,” Bike Austin Executive Director Mercedes Feris said.

As part of the event, more than 40 businesses have signed up as fueling stations to provide riders with free coffee, snacks and merchandise from 7-9:30 a.m. Austin Beerworks is offering free beer to riders that day, Flyrite Chicken on Burnet Road will offer a free tall-by Lonestar beer to cyclists age 21 and older, Bouldin Creek Cafe will have breakfast tacos and muffins, and Houndstooth Coffee is offering a free 12-ounce iced coffee at the downtown location.

An after-party is set for 5 p.m. at Google Fiber, 201 Colorado St., Austin, at which participants will receive complimentary beverages, including beer from Hops & Grain Brewery, and food from Verts. RSVP is not required.

Here are three things to know beforehand:

1. Plan ahead.

Feris said for those who have never biked to work before it is important to plan a route beforehand to make sure riders will be familiar with the route and how long the trip will take.

“Try riding the route when it’s not a work day and you’re not stressed about time and traffic is lighter,” she said.

The city of Austin has as bicycle route map, and Feris said Google also shows bike routes as an option when looking up directions.

Keeping toiletries and extra clothes at the office to freshen up is also recommended, especially if the workplace does not have showers, she said.

2. Communication is key.

When making turning movements, Feris said it is important to make eye contact with drivers and use hand signals, even if they cannot remember the specific hand signals for turning.

“Once you start communicating and making eye contact you don’t feel unsafe,” she said. “A lot of what happens on the road is other motorists or cyclists don’t know what your intent is.”

If a rider does not feel safe, she said it is okay to signal to a vehicle to go ahead and proceed.

3. Riding in the street is the safest.

Despite the thinking that a sidewalk is safer, Feris said riding in the street is the safest option. This is because bikers travel faster than pedestrians, and drivers are not looking for cyclists on a sidewalk or crosswalk.

For riders who would feel safer riding in a group, several group rides are planned as part of the event. Visit for more information.