It’s Bike to Work Week
May 16, 2010
Total mileage: 605
Maybe you’ve been thinking about it for awhile. Maybe you used to do it once upon a time. Maybe your kid or friend or coworker does it. Well, now’s the time to try it yourself. This is Bike to Work Week, and Friday is Bike to Work Day. You can bet I’ll be riding to work at least once this week, probably several times.
Just like you, I used to have lots of reasons not to commute by bike. Do any of these excuses sound familiar?
1. It’s too dangerous
Sure, if I rode a direct route to work it could be considered suicidal. Instead, I put on an extra mile or two to avoid the busiest streets. The best way is to plot out a course and then test-ride it on a weekend. There are plenty of resources: online maps of your community’s trails and bike lanes, suggestions from members of your local bike club, observing the routes taken by other bike commuters. For example, I ride through one city park and alongside several others, pass through a cemetery (it keeps you humble) and across a couple of grassy patches on the way to work in an attempt to take the safest possible route.
2. It’s too far.
It only seems far the first time you ride it. My own commute is an 11 mile round-trip (although I usually put in extra miles for the fun of it), but I’ve met cyclists who ride 22 and even 40 miles one way to work. “Far” is a matter of perspective.
3. I’ll smell bad.
I’m lucky to have access to a shower at work, but I used to just sponge off in the woman’s restroom. Most of the other cycle commuters at my workplace don’t shower, and none of them smells bad. If you’re concerned about it, keep a kit of liquid soap, deodorant, and washcloth at work. Start out by hauling a change of clothes with you in a backpack. You can graduate to a rack and panniers later.
4. What if I have a flat or get sick or there’s a tornado?
Topeka’s buses have bike racks, and a friend of ours rides to the bus stop and takes it home when he’s feeling tired or the weather looks threatening. Catch a ride home with a friend or your significant other. Carry a cell phone. In other words, have a backup plan.
5. People will think I’m weird.
When I first started commuting by bike, the only other person who cycled to work was a man who couldn’t pass the driver’s test. Sure, there was a little snickering. So what? When you’re a grown-up, being cool means marching to your own drummer.
One of my goals this year was to photograph some of the scenes from my bicycle commute that I’d probably miss in a car. The first images are in a slideshow on a new page, “Commuting.” It will be updated throughout the year as beautiful and interesting things present themselves.
This was my first 100-mile week of the season. I commuted to work 40 miles, went for a challenging 30-mile ride with Mr. Spoked on Saturday, rode to the Farmers Market, and today decided to round out the 100 by riding in town. Overall, a good week.