Bike to Work Day makes me feel lame

13 May

I love the concept of Bike to Work Day. I think it’s great to celebrate alternative transit modes and think we should do so more often. But the truth is that Bike to Work Day makes me feel kind of lame.

As I revealed a few months ago, I didn’t learn to ride a bike until a few years ago, and I mostly save my bike riding for the Black Rock desert. I’m actually pretty terrified of riding a bike on busy Oakland streets. To ride from home to work, it would be a straight shot up Telegraph, and though there are bike lanes on part of the route, I know I’ll get hit one day.

I do my part for the environment by riding the bus and walking, but when Bike to Work Day comes around every year, I feel somehow inadequate and like I’m missing out on something.

I know I shouldn’t need a Bus to Work Day or Walk to Work Day to validate my actions, but it does seem a bit unfair that bike riders get their own month and own day when pedestrians and transit riders are largely ignored.

Ultimately though, if Bike to Work Day gets commuters out of their cars and onto their bikes, I can’t really complain. Also, I guess I shouldn’t expect someone to create a Bus to Work Day for me so I’ll be sure to add that to my list of projects I’ll maybe get to one day.

If you’ve gotten over your fears of urban bike riding, make sure to stop by City Hall this Thursday morning (May 15th) for free pancakes and a raffle. I’ll be the bikeless one across the street with my head held down in shame.

5 Responses to “Bike to Work Day makes me feel lame”

  1. Mike Hardy May 13, 2008 at 11:32 pm #

    Hey no shame whatsoever in doing the bus thing and walking. If anything, you generate a lower carbon footprint, since all the bike gear it takes me to commute is quite a bit of manufacturing really. And I eat a lot more, which also takes a bit of input. Versus the buses already running anyway…

    Regardless, definitely work the “fewer cars” vibe. I’m not a car-hater, I have one, but imagine if people just used cars once a week? (and just go crazy and imagine if everyone was actually relaxed and patient when they did it!). Ok, it’ll never happen, but the world sure would be a quieter, better-smelling place, IMHO. Bike to Work day is a nice little push in the right direction…

  2. bike realist May 14, 2008 at 11:41 am #

    Biking to work is a total fantasy. I mean, think, people. How many folks want to show up to work sweaty? And deal with the danger of the ride? And rumple their work clothes?

    Biking will never be anything other than a small percentage solution….even if gas is 10 dollars a gallon.

    Mass transit, otoh, can become more widely adopted.

  3. Becks May 14, 2008 at 6:15 pm #

    Mike – yeah, I know, I shouldn’t feel ashamed and I don’t feel ashamed for the rest of the year, just on this one day. I’m also not a car-hater – I do drive my girlfriend’s car once or twice a week to do random errands – but I agree that anything that gets people out of their cars is a good idea.

    Bike realist – that’s a good point, though I actually could see myself biking to work and changing when I got here, except for the fact that I’m too scared to. I do agree that mass transit has much more potential for expansion than biking. Besides the inconveniences that you mentioned above, many people simply live too far from their workplaces to bike.

  4. dj November 4, 2008 at 11:50 am #

    If you aren’t driving you are part of the solution. All that said, I find riding in the BRC far more intimidating 😉

    It’s just what you are used to. What really matters in making the O a safer and more convenient place to walk, bus, and ride.

  5. Jennifer January 20, 2009 at 8:41 pm #

    Biking to work isn’t for everyone, but it is for a lot more people than now do it. Replacing short car trips (up to 4 miles) with bike trips saves gas, saves money, prevents emissions (short car trips pollute disproportionately), and builds exercise into ones day. Many businesses have showers, for those who commute longer distances (and more should be encouraged to do so). And, as for it never being a big-picture solution, take a look at Holland, Denmark, and other European cities. It is possible here, too. As for safety, an interesting article here: http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2007/10/8/143547/109

    Finally, I’m totally pro-transit and believe it is, indeed, a more important part of the “solution” than bicycling, but bicycling to transit can make transit work better and make transit available to those that don’t live next to transit stations (at a fraction of the cost of building expensive parking garages that induce more motor vehicle travel).

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