It has been noted here before, but bears repeating: one way to get more people out of their car seats and onto bicycle seats is to ride along with them on their initial trips. Makes perfect sense; strength in numbers and all that. With that in mind, I’ve seen some interesting spins on that idea recently that I wanted to pass along to you:
BikeBudi is a site in the UK that matches up people that are commuting the same way. Nice idea for larger urban areas where there are enough people on bikes to support something like this.
But what about towns that aren’t quite as far along as London, Portland, etc.? Here is an option that is closer to home for me and perhaps an idea that budding bicycle entrepreneurs in other areas could consider: Bike Escorts. Jason Wingate operates KC Bike Escorts in and around the downtown Kansas City, Missouri area. I saw a copy of his flyer posted on kcbike.info and had to find out more.
CBB: How long has KC Bike Escorts been around?
JW: KC Bike Escorts is still in it’s infancy. It took about a month for us to talk about how cool it would be to do, then about another two weeks to get the rough draft approved, because we were getting support from the KC Bike Fed on this project. Once we received the thumbs up, we had the tri-folds printed and distributed. In essence, we’re only about a two weeks old after hitting the streets with our promotional material.
CBB: What inspired you to do this?
JW: What or Who? What, was http://bikeliker.com. We try and give out the honor of being bikeliker of the week, to someone new each week for their efforts in the cycling community. I was surfing the web trying to find a new candidate, and came across Inge Hoonter. She’s the Who. Her and Thea Miklowski started the original bike escort service in Janurary 2006 in the heart of the long Chicago winter. After talking with Inge over the phone a few times, she asked if I would like to start this program up in KC. Not only was I extremely flattered that she asked me, but I also know the urgent need KC has, to have more advocacy/lead by action type bicycle groups to get more of our citizens out of their cars and onto their bikes.
CBB: How many escorts do you have?
JW: So far, I have about 15 people who ride daily, whether it be for fun, or to commute to work or run errands. They have all volunteered to make themselves available upon request. All a person requiring an escort needs to do, is send us an email to email@example.com with the logistics of their ride, and we will have one of our riders meet up with you.
CBB: How long is their typical trip?
JW: The distance of the trip varies. Our city’s grid is kinda odd cause it’s a long narrow corridor when you view it on a map. Our typical boundaries is Amour Rd in NKC to 75th St. south, and Stateline west to Prospect east. However, I am sure that those boundaries can be expanded upon request.
CBB: Tell us about the kind of people who are using the service?
JW: Our average client/escortee, is someone who wants to ride more for whatever reason, but really hasn’t ridden since childhood. Basically, they just need a refresher course, and some confidence building for riding in the streets. Riding with cars is not very difficult, but can be overwhelming when one hasn’t done it in 10 plus years. We’re open to riding with anyone though, even if it’s just cause someone wants some company or motivation to get out there.
CBB: How is the commute in KC?
JW: The commute in KC is fun, but one thing that may be a deterrent for some people that want to ride, but don’t, is the hills. Some days, it feels like you’re either goin up or down a hill, and in all actuality you probably are. Once one gets over that initial hump from the soreness in your legs, the hills aren’t so intimidating. There are also different routes one can take to ride around some of the steeper hills. Our escorts know those routes from trial and error.
CBB: What are your plans for the future?
JW: KC Bike Escorts hopes that there won’t be too much of a use for our services within a year or two, cause everyone will be out riding. We’ll still be around to ride with those that are lonely come Valentines Day and what not, but other then that, we hope to have accomplished our mission of getting more Kansas City residents out there riding for their day to day activities.
A very cool idea, indeed. We wish Jason and all the escorts well. Now, who can you encourage to join the ranks?