Thoughts On Bike-to-Work Week

It’s Bike-Bus-Walk to Work Week in Springfield. For me it’s just another week of doing what I do every day.

Here’s the thing: I would not be doing it — commuting by bicycle — if it were difficult to do. Seriously.

Why is it not difficult? Primarily it is not difficult because I live 3/4 of a mile from my job. I live 3/4 of a mile from my job (in Springfield’s urban core) on purpose – precisely to make bicycling and walking to work (and everywhere else) easy.

And this is why I’m not a big promoter of BBWTWW. I’m not against it; I’m just not on the front lines encouraging anyone to get out there this one week and try bicycle commuting. For far too many people, it is difficult precisely because they live too far from work in car-centric neighborhoods.

Further, the iconography of such weeks are invariably sport cycling-centric. Does that spandex look, and do those racing bicycles, really make novices comfortable with the idea of bicycle commuting? I wonder.

As a promotional and educational exercise, I prefer the 1-mile Solution — the recent topic of my presentation at PechaKucha. A greater number of people, I think, can practice the 1-MS than can commute to work by bicycle. And for those who cannot commute, well, how about keeping a bicycle at work and practicing the 1-MS there? The iconography is of the 1-MS is different, too. Below are two of the photos I used in my PechKucha presentation — at the place where I talk about not making bicycle riding more difficult than it has to be.

Let’s grow participation the easy way. The commuting will come as people gain experience and confidence (and as the suburbs continue to struggle) — and as they reap the benefits of bicycling.

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Comments 12

  1. Ian Cooper wrote:

    I fully agree with you on this. I also commute only 3/4 of a mile. Sometimes I feel like I’m not a serious commuter-cyclist because of this, until I remind myself that I located myself close to town because there was no good reason NOT to do so.

    I’ll feel better in a month, I guess, as I’m moving to a place where my commute will be nearly two miles. I do have a sort-of reason for getting a longer commute – the need to lose the spare tire I’m developing as I reach 50. Not that that really played a role in the decision, but it’s as good an excuse as any.

    I also am not participating in Bike to Work Day this year, mainly because the day after BTWD is about the most depressing of the year, as the BTWDers all get back in their SUVs for the remaining 364 days until the next BTWD. I promised in my blog to mount some sort of protest at the “Drivers’ Day of Cycling” (which is what it SHOULD be called), but it’s tomorrow and I just haven’t figured out anything clever to do, so I’m just going to boycott it. I will walk my commute tomorrow.

    Posted 17 May 2012 at 9:49 am
  2. Khal Spencer wrote:

    Having just led with my chin on the local BTW Day, I have to agree with you guys. It was about the most depressing thing I’ve done lately. We set up about seven “volunteer” ride leaders who would lead less experienced folks to work from various locations. They all rode in alone. Lacking attractive enough swag, no one rode to the bike table at the wellness festivities.

    BTW Day reminds me of the hypothetical guy who treats his mom like crap for 364 days and brings flowers on Mother’s Day. I’ve sort of blown up on it.

    Posted 17 May 2012 at 10:10 am
  3. Steve A wrote:

    And I’m the grumpy one? Do y’all crab at the kids on Father’s Day or accept the ugly tie graciously? I’m going 20 miles out of the way tomorrow so I can make what will be my 4th Bike Week post of the week. First, however, I need to regale my loyal reader with “Bike Week ABC FAIL.” Think Father’s Day.

    ;-)

    Posted 17 May 2012 at 4:11 pm
  4. Steve A wrote:

    And Khal, had I flown to Los Alamos, your ride leaders would have had someone to lead. Perhaps next year. Andy, rereading your post, does that mean I have to wear spandex and ride the road bike? That is SO inconvenient! :-)

    Posted 17 May 2012 at 4:33 pm
  5. Khal Spencer wrote:

    I am most definitely grouchy this week, and its admittedly not just due to Bike Week. Bike to Work Day was just the icing on the horse turd cake.

    But in the past, BTW Day at Los Alamos was indeed populated by primarily the sport riders deciding to leave the 4,000 lb. roof rack home for the day. Based on my non-scientific, non-statistically significant observations this year, its still primarily the same old sports who are humping it over Conoco Hill or up from White Rock. Sadly, most of what I see coming out of the side roads, even ones close to work, are cars and SUVs. The One Mile Solution would be so easy to carry out here, too.

    For more people to ride regularly, its gotta be something that appeals to more of the general population. Kinda like Germany or Copenhagen.

    Posted 17 May 2012 at 4:45 pm
  6. Khal Spencer wrote:

    “Motorist’s Day of Cycling”.

    I like it, Ian!

    Posted 17 May 2012 at 6:05 pm
  7. Khal Spencer wrote:

    Andy, did you catch this on NPR this morning?

    http://www.npr.org/2012/05/18/152935623/son-fulfills-dream-racism-denied-to-his-mother

    “When Terry Walls of Springfield, Mo., decided to go back to college at age 52, he wanted to put to rest a family rumor. He had heard his mother was denied admission to Missouri State University, and he was pointed toward Meyer Library on the MSU campus for answers.”

    Posted 18 May 2012 at 7:09 am
  8. Andy Cline wrote:

    Khal… Yes! Great report story from my university.

    Posted 18 May 2012 at 12:19 pm
  9. Khal Spencer wrote:

    I was going to email you at work, but you seem to respond more often on this blog. Nice story, but for what happened prior to 1954.

    Posted 18 May 2012 at 12:34 pm
  10. Ian Butler wrote:

    Gentlemen,

    I think I have you all beat. Below are three quotes on the 2012 BTW Day in Oklahoma from the Association of County Governments (ACOG) BTW announcement:

    http://www.acogok.org/Newsroom/biketowork12.asp

    One of the three quotes below is not like the other two. Please discuss.

    “Bike to Work Day is part of a national campaign to promote bicycling as a healthy and efficient transportation alternative. ”

    “…National Bike to Work Day annually offers metropolitan areas the opportunity to call attention to the benefits of bicycling and to increase safety awareness among bicyclists and motorists.”

    “Notice: Bicycling is a rigorous physical activity. Even conditioned and experienced cyclists have succumbed to injury or death while riding.”

    Cheers.

    Posted 19 May 2012 at 9:42 am
  11. Andy Cline wrote:

    Ian… Ha! A legal disclaimer. And, as this case illustrates, these things can often run exactly opposite of the thing being promoted.

    Posted 19 May 2012 at 11:44 am
  12. Ian Butler wrote:

    Andy,

    Quite so. But it’s a feature, not a bug.

    Posted 19 May 2012 at 1:32 pm