Kevin Shute, left, and Tim Blair of the Bath Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee are geared up for three group kick-off rides this month. The first ride is Saturday. Chance Viles / The Forecaster

The Bath Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee is hosting three kick-off rides this month to get people of all skill levels back out and riding.

With many bicyclists riding alone, if at all, during the pandemic, the rides are great way to reconnect and make new cycling friends, Chairperson Kevin Shute said.

“I am just starting to get back into group rides myself, so this is exciting,” Shute said.

He continued to ride during the pandemic, he said, but he missed being with fellow cyclists.

“This is really a chance for us to get things going again, but also remind people about safety and that it is also up to bicyclists to share the road as well,” Shute said.

The first ride will be held Saturday, May 15, and the following two will be held May 22 and May 29. May is National Bike Month.

Committee member Tim Blair said it is important for participating riders to check their bikes first to make sure they’re working properly, especially after a potentially long period of not being used, and wear bright clothing and helmets.

Safety is top priority considering the vulnerability of pedestrians and bicyclists, Blair said.

“A big part of this is education for both pedestrians and people driving cars, and building confidence sharing the road,” Blair said.

According to the Slow ME Down campaign, a Bike Coalition of Maine campaign against speeding, about 36% of the bike and pedestrian fatalities in the state last year were directly attributable to speed. Being struck by a car going 45 mph, it says, is comparable to the impact from falling off a seven-story building.

Last year, 10 pedestrians and two cyclists were killed by cars in Maine.

“Bath does a great job of being accessible, but there is always more to do with safety. A lot of these accidents are totally preventable,” Shute said.

The first ride, this Saturday, is a 10-12 mile ride through West Bath and North Bath for experienced riders. Participants should have already put a few miles on their bike this spring and be comfortable with a couple of moderate hills. Plan on an hour and a half of riding time, Shute said.

The group will host a ride for inexperienced bikers on May 22.

“The hour-long ride is a great chance to brush up on your cycling skills, gain confidence in your ability and meet riders who share the same biking goals,” Shute said.

The final ride in the series, May 29,  is a family ride.  Riders should have some experience riding on the road and children must be accompanied by an adult. Some basic skills will be covered prior to venturing out on the road for a short ride.

“We go the speed of our slowest rider, we stick together. I think this will be a good place to meet people,” Shute said.

All rides start at 9:30 a.m., and will leave from the Bath Recreation Department office, 4 Sheridan Road. Riders must pre-register at bathrecreation.com.

All rides will follow CDC guidelines and require riders to wear masks when not on their bikes, have 20 feet of separation when riding and 6 feet of separation when stopped.

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