Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Take Your Bike to Work Day - I'm Taking the Bus

May 16 is Take Your Bike to Work Day
So May 16 is Take Your Bike to Work Day in Columbus.  It's a good thing to do, and I'm glad the City is supporting it.  But me, I'm taking the bus.

It's partly because I'm a contrarian.  If I am offered the choice between pepperoni or veggie pizza, I choose a hamburger.  And whenever I see large groups of people all doing the same thing, I tend to walk in the other direction.  Can't help it; it's how I'm wired.

Cat memes are the highest and best use of the internet
But there's more to it than that.  As someone who rides his bike to work everyday, everyday is bike to work day for me, but without the party. 

Bike to work day - now with snotcicles!
Even on the worst days, all I'm doing is riding a bike.  It is, essentially, an act that can be performed by trained animals.


It ain't brain surgery or rocket repair.  It's just riding a bike.

That's why I call it "take your bike to work day."  Not "bike to work day."  I call it that, because it's like "take your child to work day."  The similarities are striking.

First of all, it's a once-a-year event.  On that one special day a year, your entire day will be centered around this one unusual act.

And like take-your-kid day, no work will get done on that day.  Instead, you will walk around your office all day introducing people to your bike and talking about your bike with them.  And, as with your kids, most people couldn't be less interested.  There may even be special activities scheduled around your special visitor.  And, at the end of the day, you will head home, feeling smug that you have done your duty as a responsible member of society, but happy that it only happens once a year.

In this regard, it's kind of like how you only tell your spouse that you love her once a year on Valentine's day.  Or like how gym memberships spike around January because of the New Year's resolutions, but attendance is back to normal by February.  

But that's not why I'm riding the bus.

I'm taking the bus because I'm selfish.

You see, most of the "take your bike to work" traffic will happen along my path to work.  I live in Clintonville and I work downtown.


See the black line?  That's roughly my commute to work.  It will also be the most heavily-used route on bike to work day.

How bad can that be, you may be wondering.  Well, imagine if the City sponsored a "get out and drive day," encouraging people who don't ordinarily drive to take to the roads during rush hour.  They could send mailers to seniors' centers and work-at-home folks, asking them to "try driving."  Now, imagine that you live on the heaviest traffic corridor and you drive to work. Fun!  

On my commute, folks will be slapping on crooked helmets, lacing up white sneakers, and saddling up on bikes with adjustable stems, riser bars, and bar ends, looking for all the world like the antlers of a 20-point buck.  Upon encountering other riders in similar form, they will toodle down the path, happily chatting side-by-side, while picking their way unsteadily through the dog walkers and headphoned joggers.

A fine example.  For an amazing collection of bike "cockpits" check out BikeSnobNYC
Others, who are used to road riding for exercise or racing will butter up their backsides and slide into some lycra "kits" to timetrial the 5 miles to work on the bikepath. Along the way they will dart in and out of their lane and pass on blind turns, with nary an "on your left."

"Dude, I just made it to work in 3 minutes."  "Nice!"  Photo by Limarie Cabrera
Ugh.  I'll take the bus.

I know what you're thinking: "Dan, you're a giant douchebag."  I don't disagree.  But, hear me out.  I actually love Take Your Bike to Work Day.

See, I once was the guy with the crooked helmet and the barends and riser bars.  Biking saved my life - literally.  I was on the path to heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity.  Biking has made me happier and healthier.  And it saves me money.  And I don't emit many gasses when commuting, so I guess that's good for the environment.

And I know that Take Your Bike to Work Day is in my best interests.  The more people that ride bikes, the better for me.  More cyclists means more bike infrastructure, safer roads, and a cleaner, happier community.

At work, I will be genuinely happy to talk to all the people who come to see me to describe their ride to work.  We can swap stories about dogs, geese, and close calls with cars.

Do me a favor though.  Go ride your bike to work alone one day this week.  It will be beautiful weather.  Or better yet, ride by yourself when it's rainy or cold.  Or rainy and cold.  Because even when it's rainy and cold and you're alone, it's still a day on the bike, which always beats sitting in a big metal box staring at the brake lights in front of you.  Give me a shout and we'll ride together. 

Crap.  I think I just talked myself into it.  Okay, fine.  Maybe I'll Take My Bike to Work too.  And maybe I'll meet up at the Columbus Commons for breakfast after.  Just don't tell anyone.  I don't want people thinking I'm part of a group.

Go be brave.

Your beer pairing:
Arrogant Bastard Ale.  Because, well, you know.

Stone brews great beers.  This one is a not-too-hoppy strong ale.  And, I love the ethos.  From the company's website:

At Stone Brewing, we believe that pandering to the lowest common denominator represents the height of tyranny - a virtual form of keeping the consumer barefoot and stupid. Brought forth upon an unsuspecting public in 1997, Arrogant Bastard Ale openly challenged the tyrannical overlords who were brazenly attempting to keep Americans chained in the shackles of poor taste.
 

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