Bike to Work Month, More Than Green PR?

I have had my moments of skepticism about whether the designation of May as "Bike to Work" month does more to fill the "we need to look like we're doing something 'green'" publicity desires of businesses and local governments than it does to actually increase the number of people who become regular bicycle commuters.
But recent conversations with my mom, who lives in a small town in Washington State, have put my cynicism in check. Even as a regular year-round bike commuter, she's incredibly enthusiastic about the May bike commuter events organized by her local transportation department and has been obsessively logging her bike commuting miles in hopes of winning the bike-commuter challenge grand prize of a Dutch bicycle. She even mailed me a photocopy (Image 1) of her millage log so I could see how committed she's been to getting in her miles.
My mom also mailed me a copy of her union's May health newsletter, which in honor of bike to work month, dedicated a section to the benefits of bicycling (Image 2). Having worked in the labor movement for a number of years during which time I don't think I ever came across efforts to encourage healthier lifestyles, I got pretty excited to see AFSCME promoting cycling to their membership. I can only hope that other unions will follow their lead once they realize how having a healthier, more physically active membership would decrease long-term health care costs.
So I guess I'm willing to look past all the favorable press hits generated for bike month sponsors and appreciate that having a yearly month dedicated to bicycling may indeed get more people out of their cars and on to the tarmac.

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