For most of the people on the team, Bike to Work Day is every day. But for many a residents of the District, Maryland, and Virginia, it takes a designated day with offers of free bagels and coffee at designated pit stops to get them to ride to work instead of driving, walking, or taking Metro.
And that’s OK. For the many times that I stopped at Freedom Plaza on BTWD, it was always encouraging to see people riding their bikes who may not have otherwise imagined it to be an option. Sure, for the majority of us that race, riding to and from work and home isn’t much of a choice anymore — it’s a habit. But there are plenty of people out there that need encouraging, and if BTWD is it, then I’m all for it. (It’s also cool to see the looks on people’s faces when they roll out with a large group of cyclists and create an impromptu critical mass. They seem to suddenly feel empowered.)
Obviously, BTWD is but one day, and many of us have to deal with cycling in the District and its surroundings the other 364 days a year. I’d like to think that the city is bike-friendly, but there’s still plenty left to be done. There are bike lanes, but not enough of them — and those that exist aren’t always organized or connected in a way that makes much sense. On a larger scale, commuting by bike is still seen as something people do for fun instead of something they do out of need. Thankfully, BTWD and the growing sense that far fewer people need to be driving is changing that. We’re not going to be the Netherlands for a while (Bike lanes! Legalized pot and prostitution! Frites!), but we’re closer than we were 10 years ago.
Anyhow, Happy Bike to Work Day to all! I’ll be celebrating by not biking at all since I’m off for the day…