This week is National Bike to Work week. Many communities in the greater Dayton region will celebrate one special day to rally more people on bicycles – Bike to Work Day. We will ride our bikes, celebrate, and ride off into the sunset.
But then what? What happens after that big showy celebration day? Will you choose to keep riding your bike? Will you encourage your co-workers or friends to continue riding their bikes? Will you make a commitment to get your family out there riding as well?
You may be thinking, “Well, I only participate on Bike to Work Day because everybody else is doing it, and it’s so much easier to ride my bike when I can celebrate it with hundreds of people that are beginners or novices just like me.”
What we’d love to see happen after Bike to Work Day is activating hundreds of people to ride their bicycles beyond one day during National Bike Month. We’d love to see you ride your bike to the park, or to the grocery store, or maybe ride for ice cream with your family. There are so many places you can go by bicycle and that doesn’t always have to mean biking to work.
We get it, seriously, we do – people have jobs that are 25+ minutes in the car. You are worried about showering, you are worried about your hair (ew, helmet hair), you have concerns about how to carry your stuff, what will you do if your kids get sick at school. And worst of all, you can’t imagine doing this alone!
Well, then don’t. Don’t bike to work to start riding your bike more. Instead, take less stressful trips with little commitment. This will allow you to practice route planning because the trip you make in a car won’t necessarily be the same route on a bike. Choose a fun destination like a new lunch spot or tour around a historic neighborhood. Site see your own city at the speed of bike – trust us, you’ll start noticing the unique personality of your surroundings. Find a friend or two that will ride and explore with you because bicycling is social. We promise you’ll have a much better time!
Also, if you are intimidated or have anxiety about riding on the road, don’t worry you are not alone here. An overwhelming number of people feel the exact same way. These people would ride their bicycles more often if they felt confident out on the road and had trust in other people operating vehicles. Look we can’t fix every “bad driver” but rest assured that 99.9999% of people do not want to harm “bike riders”.
The general public simply forgets that people who ride bicycles do in fact belong on the road. As car drivers, our brains short-circuit when we see a person on a bike because frankly, it happens far and few between – we can’t just zone out or sing along to the radio. Now the person behind the wheel has to remember what to do (or not do) to properly pass a slow-moving vehicle A.K.A. a person on a bike. That’s just one side though.
The flip side of that coin is 100% in your control as a person riding a bike. Each person on a bike can help those in automobiles know what to do and why. Educating yourself about where to ride, how to ride, what the laws say and mean, and knowing that when you take your bike on the road you too are also a vehicle with rights and rules. Be proactive and arm yourself with knowledge, then go out and practice it. Check out the great resources we have on bicycling on the road, because until conditions improve and there are trails or protected bike lanes everywhere, you’re going to have to get onto a road at some point in the game, so best to be prepared. And stay off the sidewalks, it’s for everyone’s safety and well-being.
If you are reading this thinking, “Sure, easy to say coming from the bike organization.” We understand, it isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Our staff didn’t start off as experienced bike industry professionals – we made mistakes, picked up bad habits, educated ourselves, formed better riding habits, and moved up the ranks acquiring certifications. We RODE OUR BIKES A LOT along the way. Now we can help other people figure it out.
Think of it this way; did you become Beethoven after taking one piano lesson? No. Can you parallel park your car perfectly every time? Probably not. Did you automatically just tie your own shoes one day out of the blue? Of course not. Well, then the same goes for learning how to ride your bike confidently and competently to get to where you need to go. It isn’t just going to happen after one day of riding to pancakes – but it’s a great place to get started.
Join us at Dayton’s Bike to Work Day Pancake Breakfast at RiverScape MetroPark in downtown. We’d love to meet you and chat over coffee. Or hop over to our calendar tab to find a local celebration near your neck of the woods.
For more information on Bike Miami Valley programs, classes, or small group rides, contact us by email [firstname.lastname@example.org] or by phone at 937-496-3825