Bike to Work Week: Exercise the choice–if you have it

Bike to Work Week begins this coming Monday. Depending on where you live, there are even events this weekend.

So let me tell you a story about swimming with ducks.

Last weekend we went swimming in Oak Creek, near Sedona, AZ. There was a rope swing, and I acted like a 12-year-old. I had my nifty waterproof camera, and took close-up pictures of a couple of ducks.

When we were drying off, a real 12-year-old (my stepdaughter) said to me, “You’re lucky to have short hair. It’s already dry.”

I looked at her, pointing to my short (and thinning) hair, and said, “Luck had nothing to do with it. I made this happen.”

What does this have to do with bike commuting?

Not everybody has the option to bike commute–or at least it’s not a reasonable option, given (a) where they have chosen to live, and/or (b) the priorities implemented by local transportation planners.

If we are lucky enough to be physically able, none of us are lucky to be able to bike commute.

Lucky ducks, don't have to drive...

The choice–if you have it–to climb on your bike and ride to work next week is actually predicated on countless choices made by you and for you. Luck had nothing to do with it.

Next week, some of your friends and co-workers will contemplate biking to work. Some of them will say its a hardship, but they’ll do it anyway. Some of them won’t.

Set aside for a moment all of the stereotypical reasons people resist bike commuting: motivation, vanity, fear, sweat, etc.

We–or some of us–have let urban planners and Real Estate developers determine whether or not our lives necessitate owning and commuting in a car.

And as the price of gas climbs this summer, we–or some of us–will be looking for someone to blame.

This article from M-Bike says that much of this blame will be misplaced. M-Bike is a bike blog for the Metro Detriot area, but this could equally apply to any area of the country where sprawl has been encouraged.

Those living in sprawling communities have few options in the face of high gas prices. It's affecting peoples' quality of life. We have built much of this region in such a way that residents are more vulnerable to the price of oil "” and we're all paying the price. It's time we held this area's politicians and planners more accountable and demanded better transportation choices.

You can blame M-Bike for spurring my train of thought this morning.

Queue the soapbox…

If you, or someone you know, would love to bike commute, if only it weren’t such a hardship, then this is an opportunity to use the time and energy you would be willing to put into a bike commute, and exercise a little advocacy.

Click here to go to the Advocacy Center of the League of American Bicyclists

Your local cycling organization probably can tell you who could use a letter from a constituent as well.

Maybe, in the not to distant future, someone will say to you, “You’re lucky. You can bike commute.”

And you can reply, “Luck had nothing to do with it. I made this happen.”


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