It's Bike Month: Get Out There and Proselytize!

It’s May 1–and May is National Bike Month in the United States of America. (We don’t do May Day here. Pay no attention to anyone who does.)

So if you have the weekend off and a five-day, 40-hour work week, banish those commie thoughts and instead think about how you’re going to spread the word of bikes.

Commute by Bike Missionaries
Photo: My Life from the Bleachers

Maybe you already commute five days a week, and don’t know how you could be any bikier.

This month, could you be just a little bit more influential?

Remember, if you’re an experienced bike commuter, you are a resource for everyone you know who is on that delicate tipping point; those people who just might try biking to work–insane as the idea may sound.

Bike to Work Week this year is May 15 to 20 in most places. So you only have two weeks from tomorrow to work your magic.

Top Four Tips For Being More Influential to Non-Cyclists

4. Don’t Proselytize, But Be A Resource

As I said recently, our Commuting 101 section is a great place to bone up on your sage cycling advice.

The League of American Bicyclists also has some great tips for beginners.

Let it be known that Bike to Work Week is coming up, and invite anyone who is interested to ask for more information–but don’t have any expectation that anyone will.

If you’ve already tried to convince someone and failed miserably, leave that person the hell alone all month.

3. Adapt Your Pitch For Each Potential Convert

For each person who wants to know more–if anyone does–the first part of your pitch should be, It’s fun. Oddly, most people like fun.

But what comes next should vary from person to person, based on what you know about him or her.

It’s fun, and I get in a good workout.

It’s fun, and I’m saving the planet.

It’s fun, and I’m sticking it to the Saudis.

It’s fun, and I’m saving a bunch of money on gas.

It’s fun, and I don’t have to hunt for parking everyday.

The International Bike Fund has a page “60 Benefits of Bike Commuting” with many advantages that can be stuck on the end of, It’s fun, and…

(#61 is, It’s fun.)

2. Tell A Personal Story, But Don’t Be A Windbag

If you have a story of how your commute makes you feel, and why it’s worth the extra preparation and learning curve, tell it. But be alert for that glazed look in their eyes. Maybe practice your story until you can get it down to 30 seconds.

1. If Possible, Don’t Be Seen In Spandex This Month.

And if you do wear spandex, for Pete’s sake, don’t rave about the joy of cycling while wearing it.

Years ago, I was heading into Jacksonville Beach, FL on my bike. There was a really dangerous looking bridge with no bike lane or sidewalk.

I nonchalantly entered a Harley shop on the west side of the bridge. I wanted to ask the owner of the pickup truck out front if he would be so kind as to carry my bike and me to the other side of the bridge.

None of the bearded and tattooed gentlemen would even talk to me. Then I realized why: I was wearing spandex cycling knickers.

I went to the bait shop next door and asked to use their bathroom. I changed into my jeans, then went back into the Harley shop. It was as if I’d taken off my invisibility cloak.

Lesson Learned: Spandex is a social barrier.

The pickup owner carried me over the bridge. I gave him a dollar for gas. And I was on my way to being tormented by raccoons all night. But that’s another story.

What about you? Have you succeeded in helping someone overcome their hesitancy to commute by bike? How did you do it?

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