Along with the deep, verdant growth of spring sprouts an unyielding desire to spend more time in the open air. That’s why it should come as no surprise that National Bike Month falls in the sun-drenched time of May.

May 9 marked the launch of the first-ever national Bike to School Day, taking cues from the international success of Walk to School Day (Oct. 3). On May 20, The City and County of Honolulu’s fourth annual Bike to the Zoo Day will take place from 9am–2pm; anyone who arrives at the zoo by bike gets free admission. There will be free valet bicycle parking, and the first 200 two-wheeled arrivals receive a gift bag. Enter at the Monsarrat Avenue gate.

“We hope this fun, free event will help people realize the potential of the bicycle as an alternative to the car for these shorter trips,” Mayor Peter Carlisle said in a DOT news release.

Next up, the national Bike to Work Day lands on May 18. Commuter-cycle activities–including safety information and a free safety inspection check–will be held at Thomas Square Park from 6–8:30am and 4–6pm. Refreshments will also be available for those needing to refuel before or after work.

Biking rather than driving as a main source of transportation is cheaper, healthier and greener. This doesn’t mean, however, that cycling through Honolulu’s urban jungle is without risk.

UH student Brad Kouke, an experienced, frequent cyclist who has been hit by a vehicle four times, has some helpful tips for new cyclists: Always wear a helmet, carry a good backpack (he recommends Osprey) and a decent pair of sunglasses.

As for advice on what drivers on the road can do to help cyclists, Kouke comments, “People get in their cars and they’re so insulated–they create this reality bubble, and quite often, a sound bubble where they’re enveloped in this other world where you have your iPod streaming and you’re texting at the same and not being focused on what they should be focused on.” He adds, “I’d encourage drivers to roll down their windows.”