Although it’s not always as fast or convenient as driving a car, a bike commute has a lot of up-sides.

Just ask Chris Reno.

The 33-year-old state worker rides home from his job in downtown Sacramento twice a week, which might not sound like much -- but he lives in Roseville, a 23-mile bike commute he usually completes within an hour and a half.

He said it saves him time, which might sound odd, except when you consider that by the time he’s arrived home, he’s already had his workout -- no need for a separate trip to the gym.

Reno started doing the twice a week commute while training for a triathlon, and the habit stuck. He only rides during daylight savings months, and skips on excessively hot days.

Since he can complete much of the ride on designated bike paths, he finds it pleasant and relaxing.

“It’s nice, I get to see nature,” said Reno.

He likes seeing birds like the quail and pheasants that sometimes burst out of foliage upon his approach.

Riding also saves him the Amtrak fare he pays on his non-bike commute days.

Cosmo Garvin’s commute from the California Environmental Protection Agency to his Hollywood Park home isn’t as long, but he rides most days. He, like Reno, appreciates having a workout built into his day, rather than going to a gym or running.

This month is national Bike Month, and it’s celebrated in Sacramento by May is Bike Month, organized by the Sacramento Area Council of Government. The month-long event features challenges, group rides, events, and prizes. Riders who log trips or miles are automatically entered into drawings to win prizes, from May is Bike Month socks to $100 gift certificates for local bike shops.

Sacramento Region’s May is Bike Month encourages people to get on their bikes this month, but organizers hope the experience they have riding will inspire them to continue riding, said Jim Brown, executive director of Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates.

Follow up research by the organizers of May is Bike Month indicates that people who participate in Bike Month activities continue to make cycling a big part of their lives.

Riding in traffic can be very intimidating for cyclists, because everything has been designed for motor vehicles, and what works for cars isn’t always what’s good for riders. But the more riders there are, the more things will be put in place for them – bike lanes, bike-friendly traffic rules, places to lock bikes. So the objective is encouraging people to ride more in a less than completely bike-friendly world.

Fortunately, there are many inducements to cycling.

“Riding a bike burns calories, lowers your risk of heart disease and diabetes, and builds strength and endurance. It makes you happier, less stressed and smarter,” according to the California Bicycle Coalition website.

Cycling is not just healthy for riders, it’s healthy for cities, which have incentive to encourage cycling because it decreases traffic congestion, which in turn leads to better air quality.

Plus it’s a lot more fun than sitting stuck in a freeway traffic jam.