|Just a crazy commuter on an average day. Image by Joe Hackenmiller|
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.