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Santa Barbara Kicking Off Month of Cycle MAYnia

Thursday's Cycle Chic fashion show is one of many events planned to celebrate community cycling

May is the month of the bicycle in Santa Barbara — dubbed Cycle MAYnia — and will kick off Thursday evening with Santa Barbara Cycle Chic, a fashion show highlighting the latest in cycle-friendly dress.

As gas prices have risen and the green living ethic has become more en vogue, you may have noticed that more and more people around Santa Barbara are choosing a bicycle as their major mode of transportation. Santa Barbara is one of a growing number of cities claiming a strong bicycle-friendly reputation — among such places as Portland, Ore., and Davis, which, at 17 percent, boasts California’s highest rate of bicycle commuting — offering a network of bicycle trails, urban bike lanes and a healthy network of cycling enthusiasts.

The region’s mild, usually sunny weather doesn’t hurt either, but as gas prices go up, so do the number of cyclists. Having firmly entrenched ourselves in automobile culture during the past century, it takes a lot of thought to make the transition to a cycle-centric lifestyle.

“Bicycle use and culture is exploding in SB right now. Census data show a 60 percent increase in commuter bicyclists since 1990,” said Michael Chiacos, the Community Environmental Council’s transportation specialist and a member of the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition. “Our own counts show a 16 percent increase in bicyclists over the last four years. Bici Centro, our community bike repair shop and education center, has cranked into full gear and is helping thousands of bicyclists while serving as a hub for bike culture.”

Cycling enthusiast and Santa Barbara City Councilman Das Williams said that although the number bicycle commuters is not to be discounted, the number of recreational cyclists in Santa Barbara stands at nearly 45 percent of the city’s population.

“That’s really important when we talk about funding for bicycle infrastructure improvements,” he said. “This isn’t a small minority.”

While it may take a little extra planning to coordinate the day’s errands and outings, it can be worth avoiding getting stuck in traffic or struggling to find a place to park. In addition, riding a bicycle on a regular basis can help people stay fit. In a study of 10,000 government workers, the British Medical Association found that cycling 20 miles per week reduces the rate of heart disease by 50 percent.

Bici Fashion Takes Santa Barbara

Beginning downtown at 5 p.m. Thursday at Casa de la Guerra, 15 E. De la Guerra St., the Santa Barbara Cycle Chic fashion show will highlight stylish, bicycle-friendly clothing and accessories from Anthropologie, Patagonia, Bryan Lee, The Closet, Swrve, Luna Gear, Po Campo, Hambone Designs and Mission Workshop.

Santa Barbara bike shops Cranky’s, the BikeStand, the WheelHouse and community cycling center Bici Centro will be on hand to show off the variety of bicycles they have available.

The event will kick off with a cocktail hour at 5 p.m. — with drinks from Kunin Wines, food from Milk & Honey and music — followed by special appearances by Williams and London cycling blogger Caz Nicklin, founder of London cycling store Cycle Chic. A live runway fashion show featuring 31 models from around the community will begin at 6:20 p.m.

After the show, the party will move to WheelHouse, 528 Anapamu St., which is hosting Bike Moves, a themed bike ride held the first Thursday of each month. This month’s costume theme is from the fashion comedy film Zoolander, and participants will have a chance to strut their stuff in a runway walk-off at the end of the ride. Bring your zaniest threads and see if you can be the one to make a left turn at the end of the runway.

As Cycle MAYnia continues, next week will feature Bike From Work Day in Santa Barbara, and Bike to Work Day in Goleta and at UCSB. Refreshments will be offered.

Click here to visit the Cycle MAYnia Web site for more information on the variety of other events to be held this month, including films, youth events and even a classic bicycle tweed ride.

Noozhawk staff writer Ben Preston can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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