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I Would Ride My Bike, But…

In the months since I started bike commuting, I have had a handful of interesting “conversations” with my fellow employees as a direct result of them seeing me with a bike. When I first started, they were surprised to see someone walking down the office hallway with a bicycle.

– “Isn’t it too hot out there?” [it was August in Phoenix, AZ]
– “How far do you ride?”
– “Do you bike every day?”

I explained to my co-workers that I committed myself to biking to work every day in the month of August. It was a sort of experiment. An older gentleman from the Bronx would tell me about how he used to go for bike rides on the concrete paths around his house in South Florida where he just moved from. The receptionist would tell me stories of her being a tomboy and always playing sports with the boys in her neighborhood in the 1950s.

August came and went. Those who knew about my self-challenge began acting surprised that I was still riding my bike to work. That is when the conversations turned from genuine interest (and the occasional reverie) to more defensive.

– “I would ride my bike, but it’s too far…”
– “I would ride my bike, but it’s too dangerous…”
– “I would ride my horse if I had a place to keep her during the day.” [yes, someone actually said that]

There are tons of excuses that people use for not bike commuting, many of them legit. But part of me wonders why, without any mention of the subject on my part, these people feel they have to justify or defend themselves? Could it be that most Americans inherently believe that bike commuting – or even alternative transportation – is ethically and environmentally more beneficial?

This gives me hope that convincing the average middle-class American to consider alternative transportation is not as hard as some may think. The more important challenge might be to present the doable options, provide realistic opportunity – and the rest will fall into place…

As an aside, I would like to hear the kinds of comments you get from people in your office. Do people try to justify to you why they do not bike to work when they see you standing at the elevator with a bike by your side?

Extra! Extra! Weekly News Recap

Sometimes we get too buried in the negativity of network news (war, corrupt politicians, celebrities, you know the type…), and it seems hard to find positive, enjoyable stories. In an effort to, as Monty Python says, “Always look on the bright side of life…,” I present you with the following:

  • NYC Michael Bloomberg has been trying to impose a “Congestion Charge” in the streets of New York City to entice people to use alternate transportation and thereby alleviate the nightmare that is NYC traffic. London has had such a charge since 2003, and since then has seen a 43% increase in bike commuting. TreeHugger.com examines whether these two events are related.
  • The Bicycle: most energy efficient mode of transportation.
  • A fellow Phoenix desert-dweller tells a pleasant story about why she bike commutes.
  • Want to not get side-swiped by an 18 wheeler? Just smile and wave
  • Here’s an opportunity to help organized cycling advocacy stay alive. Give the Bicycle Transportation Alliance your support for their public service announcement commercials on bike commuter awareness.
  • This one may not only be about bike commuting, but it makes for a great story nonetheless. My good friends Sam and Stephen have published their first book: New Day Revolution: How to Save the World in 24 Hours. The book attempts to impact great change (smarter consumption, more community, cleaner and friendlier world, etc.) by inspiring each person to make simple changes, that when added altogether, make a big difference. But here’s the big win with this book: instead of whining or complaining, it actually gives you real solutions and real ways to make change for the better. I’ll give a prize (yet to be determined) to the first person who can find my name in the book. This tome is the brainchild of their organization, CoolPeopleCare:

Since we’re in the business of change, we wanted to put a new spin on this old idea. But we didn’t just want to rename or rebrand something. We wanted to rethink it. We wanted to reimagine the idea, not for the sake of marketing, but for the sake of success.

Come back every Thursday for a recap of what is going on in the world of bike commuting. Until then, happy riding!