What is bike commuting "expertise?"

Cycling Diploma
This "Cycling Diploma" is a "gag gift" | Photo: Shopping.com

Yesterday I was talking with Josh Lipton (the guy who did all those NAHBS interviews) about publicity for the forthcoming Bike to Work Week.

I suggested we could hype Commute by Bike to the local press, with a pitch such as, “Did you know that the Web’s top site for bike commuting is headquartered right here in this two-bit city?”

Then I pulled back a bit. “But, I’m not sure if I want to tout myself as the world’s expert on bike commuting.”

Josh smirked and said, “We’re the experts in the thing that requires no expertise.”

Really? Is it that simple? Get on your bike and ride it to work?

When I think of the barriers to bike commuting, I have a few unflattering stereotypes of what makes people resist the idea–and none of them have to do with any sort of expertise.

  • Aversion to effort
  • Devotion to a pristine hairstyle
  • Concern about sweat and/or body odor
  • Exaggerated perception of the danger

If a resister can set all of those aside for one week, is that all there is to it?

Maybe we’re the wrong people to ask. We’re so habituated to cycling, maybe some things are second nature to us, but would be completely mystifying to someone whose bike is covered with cobwebs and hanging in the garage with rotted tires.

Some people might not remember which levers are for shifting, and which are for braking; which is the front brake, and which is the rear.

I remembered this cringeworthy video, where the patronizing reporter gets on a bike, clearly for the first time in a decade or more. She identifies the bell, but not the brakes.

What are the things that we experienced bike commuters know, but don’t recognize as specialized knowledge?

Ask a friend or co-worker who does not bike commute: If you could talk to an expert on bike commuting, what would you ask him or her?

I want to believe that we know something that at least would take a few minutes to impart to a noob. Maybe that’s just the smug cyclist in me talking.


Post navigation