The City of Santa Monica and the city’s Big Blue Bus transit system have joined other transportation agencies around Los Angeles to support and promote public participation for Bike-to-Work Day Thursday, May 15th.

Bike-to-Work Day is part of a full week of special events being planned around the state to promote biking as an everyday and viable means of transportation.

Santa Monica officials are hoping to encourage people to get out of their cars and try a healthy alternative to get to work.

For longer commutes, Big Blue Bus officials note that the local system offers the ability for passengers to bring their bicycles along, as all buses are equipped with bike racks and there is no extra charge for bringing a bicycle aboard.

“Many people take the bus into work and then ride home, or take the bus to a location where there is a bike path and then ride the rest of the way in for exercise,” said JosÈ Barba, customer service manager for the Big Blue Bus.

Special “pit stops” will be set up and staffed around the Los Angeles area to assist bikers on the day of the event. On the Westside, stops will include Santa Monica City Hall, REI in Santa Monica, and UCLA Bruin Plaza in Westwood, where there will also be a Bike Fair.

Big Blue Bus Customer Service representatives will be available from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the City Hall pit stop, 1685 Main St. in Santa Monica, to assist with route information. A “bike valet” will also be available until 5 p.m. to store bikes left at City Hall in a secure location.

The REI pit stop, at 402 Santa Monica Blvd., will be staffed from 6 to 11 a.m. and the UCLA stop, at 308 Westwood Plaza in West L.A., from 10 a.m. until noon.

Bicyclists can fill up their tires, get their bike chains tightened, and even have a flat tire repaired at the stops, which are free to the public.

Refreshments, maps and bike-themed giveaways will also be available.

A full list of the 35 pit stops in the Los Angeles area is available at www.metro.net/biketowork/.

The Big Blue Bus and the city’s Transportation Department have collaborated to create a special bike map with information about biking around the Westside, including how to combine using the Big Blue Bus with taking a bicycle, and a complete map of Santa Monica and surrounding areas showing bus routes and how they relate to commuting with a bike.

The bike map is available at the Big Blue Bus Transit Store, 223 Broadway near the Third Street Promenade, or by calling Customer Service, (310) 451-5444.

After the event, the map will also be available at City Hall, REI, UCLA, and various bicycle shops around town.

Tips for Bike-to-Work Day participants to plan in advance for the one-day event include:

— determining the best routes to take, choosing roads that offer bike lanes or paved shoulders, and taking a trial run to determine how long it will take to get to work; and

— making sure bicycles are in good working order, tires are inflated, wearing a proper fitting helmet, and making sure the bike has a light if it will be ridden at night.

Additional tips about how to bike to work, are available at www.californiabikecommute.com.

For information on other special activities around the city and connecting Metro routes, www.metro .net/; and on Big Blue Bus routes, www.bigbluebus.com/.

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