- An older middle-aged woman who steadfastly refused to be convinced that riding with the traffic was safer for her;
- A group of cyclists who had a 10+ mile commute for which they hadn't figured out the route;
- A group of bicycle cops, off at a small remove, looking like they didn't belong, and no other cyclists were going over to talk;
- The usual group of recreational club cyclists waddling around on their racing cleats;
- Maybe (maybe!) one other person who was outfitted for practical cycling (this was the only other bike with fenders, for God's sake.)
But, getting back to the point. What is the purpose of Bike to Work Day? Is it
- To convince people that they can physically manage the ride to and from their place of work? Maybe it does that, but I also suspect that there are enough mishaps (from flat tires, sunburn, and being late to work from simply getting lost) that there is a significant risk that the opposite effect may be achieved.
- To allow local politicians to conspicuously ride a bike and thus try and capture the bike riding community as supporters? I suspect that this plays no small role in the planning. For sure, I didn't hear anyone talking about serious new bikeway planning or sharrow painting. (Unlike lucky Boris, see previous post.)
- To educate people about safety? There were State of Maryland DOT brochures out about "Bike safety" competent enough I suppose in their content, but they featured a little girl in pigtails on a banana-seated bike as their protagonist, thus perpetuating the image of bicycling as a children's activity.
- To ecucate people about what they really need to know about how to commute successfully? In this respect it failed miserably. Success as a cycle commuter requires planning and motivation. Resources promoting either of these were nowhere in evidence.
Think about it -- even the name is wrong. What does "Bike to Work Day" mean? It should be "Bike to Work Unless It's Bad Weather", or "Bike to Work Year Around". I've come to terms with the fanatical streak that keeps me on my bike and I enjoy the side-benefits, but I must admit I don't have the least practical idea about how to convince others to become regular practical cyclists. That "regular" part is pretty important -- how do you make bike commuting a habit?