Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Thoughts On Bike To Work Week

Just a crazy commuter on an average day. Image by Joe Hackenmiller
"So, It's Bike To Work Week?", I asked Joe as I dismounted my 1X1 and walked into the back door of the shop. He said it was, and he was just thinking about trying to catch me as I rolled up to work for a post on the shop's Instagram. (I think he is stalking me, but whatevs...!) Promoting "Bike To Work Week" and other such "traditions" in the niche of cycling is expected of bike shops. But......does any of it really matter? 

 I'm going to say here that, at best, it is preaching to the choir, and at worst it is a lot of energy falling upon deaf ears. To wit- I didn't even know it was "Bike To Work Week" this week because I haven't seen anything ahead of this week saying it was. I bet I'm not the only one that was not aware. And......if I don't know, and I am "in the business", do you suppose anyone else that casually rides, or hasn't ever tried biking to work would know?

I'm going to assume that number of people is extremely low. Besides, just saying it is "Bike To Work Week" doesn't mean squat. Every week is a "National Something Or Another" week, so big deal. "Bike To Work Week". Ooooo! Lost in the noise, it is. Lost in the noise.

Recently, the founder of the Almanzo 100, and its subsequent additional events, Chris Skogen, announced that the Almanzo was now going to eschew having bib numbers and timing for riders. All in an effort to "reduce barriers to participation" for the riders. Say what you will about this move, but the philosophy behind the move is a template for what "Bike To Work Week" really should be about. We shouldn't be asking riders, or potential riders to bike to work until we've removed the barriers to doing so.

Making things safe would be one big move in the right direction. Recently two individuals have been mowed down by people poorly operating a motor vehicle in two different cities in Iowa. Unless we require that operators of motor vehicles actually be proficient in their skills, we need to separate bicyclists from drivers as much as possible. Until we do that, the promotion of anything akin to a "Bike To Work Week" is a farce. Until we have solid laws in the books protecting cyclists from poor drivers and their bad choices, and until those laws are vigorously enforced, a "Bike To Work Week" is going to fall on deaf ears. Until we use technology already available to limit how humans use technology in vehicles, any cycling promotion to increase ridership is a stupid move, and endangers the riders who might actually take up cycling from the suggestions of such promotions.

Until all these things and more happen, cycling to work is for nutjobs like me or the naive who do not realize how their cycling activity is endangering them on their city streets. But any rational person who considers the real possibility that they could be struck by a person wielding a motorized personal chariot is probably not going to listen to any poppycock about "Bike To Work Week", or any like promotion.

And I can hardly blame them.


Phillip Cowan said...

I didn't know it was BTW Week either. As for what you said about bikes vs cars, I say well put. I had to lock up the brakes this morning to avoid being hit by a car shooting out of a parking garage. Judging from his speed it was obvious he didn't expect anyone to be there. Ironically I was in the bike lane and since the guy probably lives there you would think he would at least give a cursory glance before crossing. Oh well!

On a happier note it's good to see your 1x1 out in the wild. Ya still runnin' it fixed?

Guitar Ted said...

@Phillip Cowan- Glad you aren't flattened, first of all. On the 1X1- I am running it coaster now. I jacked up my hips earlier this year running another bike fixed and decided to give myself a break for a bit on the 1X1.

I ran it fixed all last year though.

rth009 said...

I totally agree. Unfortunately, the same ignorance that prevents us from making reasonable public policy on all sorts of issues (and elects the orange one) prevents us from a pro cycling public policy. I wish I knew the answer.

mcasey said...

A side note about the Almanzo. Chris uploaded a Facebook live video yesterday and on it he stated that this was his last year putting on Almanzo and what pushed him over the edge was all the negative feedback/comments he had received from people bitching about the change. There was a sense of anger and frustration in his voice. I for one was very happy with the change and I think the event or my idea of self supported events have lost their way. I started to see drop bags and private food stops for racers. How is that self supported. Oh well you what they say about opinions and a-holes.....but it looks like a-holes have killed the Almanzo.

Guitar Ted said...

@mcasey- Thanks for that comment. I was also made aware of the video, but I have not seen it, as it was pulled down about an hour after it was put up. Some folks that did see it relayed to me their take on it.

My comments are going to be kept private until I can comment in a more informed way. I just don't know enough about what is going on to make a coherent, informed public statement on what is going on. Although, I will admit that this all is rather alarming coming so shortly before the event is to take place.

Mr. Skogen just this morning posted a follow-up to the decision and message he posted yesterday which was removed. In it he gave no clue as to what will happen next year.

He did take full responsibility for his decision to end the use of bib numbers and scoring and timing for the event, saying he wanted to boost participation in cycling and break down barriers.

I can sympathize with you feelings that self-supported racing has maybe "lost its way", as you put it. However; as many are commenting, there is room for all sorts of events, all types of competitions, and of course, we all have a choice to make. Vote with your dollars and participation, I say. Support what you believe in, and if others do the same, your type of events, be they fully supported, USAC sanctioned, or even if they are just casual group rides, will stay thriving into the future.

With over 500 gravel specific events happening every year in the US and Canada, I don't see how we are losing certain aspects of the gravel scene. More aspects are being added, truth be known, and this, perhaps more than anything, is what seems to be rousing people's opinions to be shared.

mcasey said...

If you look up Chris' new adventure, FAK Racing website, I think it brings home why the change to Almanzo and when he send us off on Saturday and sees all the love for him, I think he will still try to do something with his "baby" next year. If not it was a great adventure.