Monday, May 19, 2008

Bike to Work Week: A Retrospective

Here's the bike rack on Monday (image lifted from the BTWW story on my employer's intranet).

Not bad, eh? By the way, that's my fixed gear, front and center, mugging for the camera. What a ham.

By Friday (the actual Bike to Work Day of Bike to Work Week), that same fixed gear was about 100 feet away, locked to the closest empty space I could find on a nearby fence. I saw people who I didn't even know had bikes, much less had ever considered riding them to work. And several told me how much fun they had on the ride in. I went into the weekend feeling pretty good about the state of things bike in Des Moines.

Then, there's today. Take that picture above, Photoshop out all the bikes but two (mine and another regular rider's), and that's the lasting impact of Bike to Work Week at my office. Sad.

And that, unfortunately, is my ongoing beef with Bike to Work Week. Its heart is in the right place, but without any follow-up from the city, its employers, and (three fingers pointed back at himself) people like me who commute a lot, it's all splash but no ripples.

I suspect I'm preaching to the choir here. So how do we reach the congregation?


crankedmag said...

I had a similar question last week. Who's biking to work on Monday and beyond?

Paul does cycle said...

I suspect you need ideal weather, attaboys/girls from your employer, and $5-7./gal gas...
Still riding the mile on my 1966 Schwinn Collegiate DeLuxe to the train; 30 miles on th etrain commute AND 10-20 miles at lunch on the rack beater of the month (today a 1998 Specialized Commuter, last month a 1993ish Giant Mixte), then the reverse commute. Often the bike to work day/week will see me ride the 30 mile commute to a Chciago Bike Federation celebration station to grab some media attention BUT its frequently rather lonely on the 30 mile commuter, as well as the train (folders only during rush hour cleanly encased in a bag or box ONLY. My spouse discarded/recycled my last bag for my two folders- SO I'm saving penny's for a new $60-80 bag OR a Christmas present of a box ($150-300) for both the trains and the planes.
Paul Dieterle
Wheaton/Chicago IL

Jeff Stevenson said...

Hi. Please join the Bicycle to Work! LinkedIn networking group. Members pledge that they will try to ride their bicycle to work or on an errand at least once a week. Although the benefits should be obvious, let me outline them here.

Right now people in the industrialized world are facing two very grave problems: obesity and a growing scarcity of oil. Compounding this problem is the new food shortage brought about, in part, by the conversion of food cropland to bio-fuel crop production. Most people feel powerless to help, but there is one thing that we can do. Ride our bicycles to work.

If everyone would agree to ride their bikes to work one day per week we could cut oil consumption by as much as 10-15%. No one would argue that riding a bike burns more calories than driving the car. Although popular politically right now, most bio-fuels consume more energy than they produce. We would be much better to eat those bio-crops then use our own energy to transport us around.

So spread the word. Make it a movement! Bicycle to work one day a week and do your part to cut back obesity and the overuse of oil and precious cropland.

Just go to my profile at and you can click on the group to be included. While you are there, don't forget to ask to link to my network of more than 9,000,000 like-minded professionals. I accept all invitations and look forward to meeting you.


Emily said...

Stuff that helped me:

1. Sheldon Brown's advice to start slooooooowly and only do a mile or two at a time.

2. The old saw about if you can walk a mile you can bike 4 miles. I could walk 5. Getting from 2 mile trips to 20 was slow but not painful. (for my legs.) Now I can walk 7 or 8 miles, but I'm not quite up to 30 on the bike yet *g*.

3. Being told biking shouldn't *hurt*. When my saddle gave me saddle sores, I knew I could find a different one and I shouldn't put up with the pain.