I am fortunate to live 0.7 miles away from a bike/hike path that runs right past the building I work in. That was one of the reasons I decided to commute by bicycle. July 4th 2005 changed that a bit when construction on and around a portion of the path forced me to find an alternate route that was half path and half traffic. They’ve just finished a temporary route to open the path back up and now that I’m back on the bike path and out of traffic for my commute, I’ve charged up and loaded the MP3 player with some podcasts for the ride. On the most recent episode of The Spokesmen, I heard our ilustrious leader, Tim Grahl (seen above), referred to as an “ambassador for cycling.” I liked the ring of that and got to thinking about how I could become more of an ambassador. The other day I got my chance.
It was such a beautiful afternoon I took my lunch hour late so I could make my commute home early and meet up with my youngest after school to ride home with him. It wasn’t too difficult picking out my son’s bike because there were only two bikes in the rack.
Our elementary school was built in a time where 80% of the students walked or rode bikes to school. Now, it’s more like 80% of the kids are driven to and from school. A few of the parents who had struggled to claim a parking spot close to the sidewalk and bike rack were having a conversation with some of the other parents who had to park across the street and down the block a bit and walk over to meet their children; there was a lot of talk about what a nightmare it is to drop off and pick kids up. When they looked over at me I just smiled.
I got my chance to be an ambassador when two of the dads came over to ask me if I’d still been riding in the frigid temperatures and all the ice and snow. I told them that the snow had knocked me out of the last week and a half but the temperatures really aren’t an issue. Then came the phrase that many of us hear often:
I wish I could get out on my bike more.
“It’s pretty easy, we’re a half mile away and it takes us about 3 minutes to get here.” And then, the comment that hopefully hooked them: “It’s nice not having to try to find a parking spot and it’s a breeze getting out of here.” One of the dads commented that he was going to give it a try when the weather gets a little nicer. At that point the other dad was blocked in, my son came out, unlocked his bike and off we went. Now, I just need to remind myself to follow up with the guy who seemed to be serious about trying it.
In the podcast, Tim made a comment about how he will offer those who are a bit hesitant the use of one of his bikes and will ride with them the first time or two. Great idea! What are some other things that we, as bicycle commute evangelists, can do to get more people riding?