Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bike (Like A Donkey) To Work Day

In an attempt to avoid offending any readers, I would like to begin this post by stating my long-standing support of commuting to work by bicycle and sincere wish that more people would ride every day.

With that said, I would also like to state that I pretty much hate National Bike To Work Day. In fact, I will go so far as to say that the entire thing actually makes me kind of angry on a number of levels.

Primarily, I get frustrated that this is the only day of the year during which I will see 99% of these people. But after some thought (as well as nearly getting taken out by a gaggle of ignorant and dangerous “commuters” on both morning and lunch rides), I have realized that this may not be a bad thing.

Note to all of those unfamiliar with cycling lingo: “On Your Left” means that I am going to pass you “on your left.” This dictates that you should move to your right – where you should have been to begin with. Apparently there are a lot of people who do not know their right from left out there.

Unfortunately, I have unwittingly stumbled upon Bike To Work Day over the last few years while on my near-daily ride to the Lab and may actually plan on driving to work next year instead. It will probably be safer than attempting to navigate the bike routes and numerous helmet-less donkeys populating them on this one day of the year. Seriously, I saw more people almost crash or get hit by cars this morning than I have in the other 364 days of the year combined. This can’t be a good thing can it?

Here is my Hypothesis:

Bike To Work Day may actually harm the overall image of bicycle commuters.


On a normal day, there are a handful of bicycle commuters who are accustomed to riding safely in traffic and generally respect the rules of the road or bike path. For the most part, these cyclists portray a positive, healthy and environmentally conscious image. I, for one, am proud to consider myself a member of this group.

The reason I mention this is because it is critical to differentiate the people that actually commute on a regular basis from those individuals who take this one day of the year to dust off their potentially un-roadworthy bikes and cause mayhem on the roads and paths of our country.

Does anyone else think that it may be slightly problematic to have a single day in which the number of bicycle commuters increases by a factor of 10? And the overwhelming majority of the increase consists of dangerously unsafe people who rarely, if ever, ride their bikes? Call me crazy but this just seems like a recipe for disaster and frustration – for both drivers and other cyclists alike.

If my feelings and those which I inferred from the faces of the many annoyed drivers I encountered this morning are any indication, National Bike To Work Day may as well be called “A Year of Responsible Commuting and Road Sharing Efforts Diminished by a Bunch of People Who Don’t Represent the Cause or Have to Deal with the Consequences Day.”

I truly hope that some people actually convert into “real” commuters because of Bike To Work Day. And I really hope that the image of bicycle commuters as a whole is not degraded by the actions of the many people who treat this as a holiday and not a way of life.

I would like to conclude by extending my apologies to anyone who may feel insulted by some of these comments. I’m sorry that you don’t have a helmet, a safe bike or a basic understanding of traffic and bike path safety. Trust me, I do feel bad about that. But in the words of Snoop Dogg, “Don’t get mad. I’m only being real.”


Donkey Kong said...

I know how to ride a bike but I take offense to the Donkey comment.

Anonymous said...

There wasn't even any good food at the stops yesterday. At least I got a donut for my troubles last year.

CaliRado Cyclist said...

I think I passed maybe 4 cyclists on the way to work today.

What happened people?

No donuts - no ride?

I rest my case.

Anthony said...

In Kentucky, bike to work day was a great excuse for local news to switch to national coverage.

Sebastian said...

so the woman with two kids on the bike (who, it's likely, doesn't own a car) is one of your donkeys? don't be mean . . .

CaliRado Cyclist said...

I'm curious what it's like to be a cyclist in non-cycling region. I have only ever lived in Marin and Boulder so I'm clueless about what it's like to be a real minority on the road. I fully acknowledge that I take that for granted sometimes.

As for the lady in the picture...I was a little conflicted about that shot. She didn't completely represent the people I was talking about but the fact that she is riding in traffic with two kids in sketchy seats and no helmets was enough for me to throw her in the Donkey category. Sorry if that sounds harsh...but come on.

I know she's in Europe (where I understand they do things differently than in Amerricuh), but still. If someone was riding with kids like that in Boulder, they would probably get pulled over by the cops.

Or at least she would get yelled at by another group of housewives dragging their Crocs-wearing kids from yoga class to the coffee shop. And they would be far meaner than me.

How can you tell that she doesn't have a car? The Europe deal again? But even if she doesn't...couldn't she use the money saved on gas to buy some helmets?

By the way, I don't hate donkeys. I just wish they would put a bit more thought into some things. Don't call PETA on me.

sebastian said...

i guess i figured that anyone balancing two kids so precariously on a bike is impelled by necessity, not stupidity. it also looks like an old (i.e. pre-helmet) photo, but i might be wrong about that.

anyway, when bike to work day 2009 rolls around, you could have some fun by getting a bullhorn and yelling "venga! venga! venga!" as you ride.