There was a rally on Wednesday riding down to the state capitol to raise awareness for bikers' rights on the road. If you like watching about 500 bikers go past a stationary camera to a soundtrack, be sure to check out the video of the event on YouTube.
I have to admit, after hearing that 500 people came out (I wasn't among them, due to the accumulation of several lame excuses), I was pretty darn impressed. Good start, Des Moines cycling community.
But what's next? It's not enough to crawl from West Des Moines to the golden dome in a 500-body amoeba, blocking traffic thanks to the Des Moines police escort that corked all the major intersections. You don't raise awareness with a one-time nuisance. Sure, our legislators saw numbers, but they'd already put up with a mob of d-bags with teabags that day, plus another mob whose marriages have apparently collapsed since our Supreme Court finally recognized the rights of all Iowans (take THAT, California! Iowa's more liberal than you! neener neener neener!) You think your poor state senator or rep had any energy left at the end of the day to be "aware" (or even placate via platitudes) a bunch of people out enjoying a bike ride in beautiful weather? Hardly.
So here's my proposal: Now that everyone's patted themselves on the back, I'll see all 500 of you out on the streets next week, and the week after that, and the week after that. Not in a lump, not with police protection. One at a time. Riding to work. Riding to the store. Riding to an I-Cubs game. Riding to a park. Just RIDING. Because if we really want to raise any awareness on the roads, that's what it's going to take. Drivers have to see bikers -- a LOT of bikers -- as a normal part of their day, traveling the streets like just another vehicle. It's not enough to put a "Share The Road" sticker on your roof rack and use it to drive your bike to our protected rail-trail sanctuaries.
I'll be out there. Will you?