A story from Bicycling magazine just came across my feed. It looks at five companies that “absolutely crushed” bike to work day. The companies are:
- Odell Brewing – Fort Collins and Denver Colorado
- South Central Foundation – Anchorage Alaska
- Starbucks – Seattle Washington
- National Geographic Society – Washington DC
- Walmart – Bentonville Arkansas
This is great and I want to thank all five of these companies for their commitment to changing the world through cycling. I hope it carries through beyond Bike to Work day. Sadly, I suspect it won’t. Bicycle commuting load share numbers haven’t risen appreciably across America in a long time. What’s worse, the best cities for cyclists are struggling to maintain the gains that they’ve scratched and clawed to earn. Too often, the bicycle racks look like this.
I think that Bike to Work day sends the wrong message. We treat it like a holiday when we should be treating it like just another day. We don’t have Drive a Car to Work day, do we? Why do we have Bike to Work day?
I can’t answer that question so, as usual, I have three ideas I’d like to see. I don’t know if they’re good ideas or not, but that’s never stopped me from sharing what I think. Here goes…
Make It Weekly, Not Annual
Let’s make every Friday Bike to Work Day. Let’s let the people who choose to bike to work arrive thirty minutes later than normal and leave thirty minutes earlier than those who drive. They’ll get more work done in seven hours than the motorists will in eight. This has been proven. It should be an easy sell to America’s corporate titans.
Coordinate with Transit Officials
Transit officials are struggling to get more riders and lots of them have embraced cyclists as a result. This is good. We can do more though. Transit officials have big budgets. They can use some of those dollars to encourage people to bicycle to the bus or train. They can provide safe, weather-protected parking or make it easier to roll bicycles onto trains. This, in turn, would make it easier to leave the car at home every Friday, as well as every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Leverage a Local Champion
I think Ogden City mayor Mike Caldwell is the best bike mayor in the country. He rides his bike to work every day, even when it snows or rains. There’s a big difference between that kind of mayor and the Bike to Work day mayor who mugs for the camera before getting back into his or her limo. TrueBlue’s CEO Steve Cooper cycles to work whenever he can as well. Such leaders send a powerful message to the rest of us.
So there you have it. I’m ready to move beyond Bike to Work day. I think the best way to do this is to get more of my friends, neighbors and coworkers out of their cars and onto bikes. I know all the reasons why they won’t, but I also know all the reasons why they should. Using a bicycle for transportation is the most normal, logical thing in the world. Every day should be bike to work day, starting now. Saddle up.