Spoke Talk: Bike to Work month
June is Bike to Work month. It’s officially designated by the Colorado legislature, and Bike to Work Day will be June 26. In addition to all the health benefits of biking to work, you can also score a free breakfast at Ski Haus that morning.
In case you have a massive commute across tow, you can also enter the Yampa Valley Commuter Challenge put on by the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council. You can enter as a team or solo, and you earn points for every trip you make using something other than your car. You can even carpool and get points.
You don’t have to commit to making every single trip car-free, either. Once a week is a great start. The contest is to see who can log the most alternative transportation miles and trips.
Seriously, though, biking to work is awesome. I started doing it as a way to shortcut the long security lines to enter the Air Force bases where I was stationed in Alaska and Florida, years ago. Then I discovered in North Dakota that my bike, unlike the car, didn’t have any issues starting in the freezing cold, nor did the transmission fluid become so viscous that I couldn’t shift into reverse.
It was faster and easier to ride to work, plus I could skip the parking space search. And I arrived at work feeling refreshed and happy, instead of snarly and anxious. I’d managed to play on my way to work.
Do you already bike to work? Yay, well done. If not, what are the obstacles? Could you take a minute to think through all the perceived barriers and see if you can conquer them? You climb mountains, you ski down them, you hike long trails, you’re a Routt County local. What’s stopping you from biking to work?
Last Friday on a Bike to School Day, I was appalled to see how many children came to school in their parents’ cars. What kind of message are we sending our kids? You know the stats, so I won’t drag them out. But as a nation, we are raising children who don’t even qualify for military service because they can’t pass the fitness tests.
What example are you personally setting for your children? Instead of rigidly separating our play time on bikes from our official work lives, let’s find a way to lower that wall.
You’ve got at least one bike, so that’s covered. Almost any bike can be used as a commuter ride, and maybe you want to use a backpack for a change of clothes or your lunch. If you have to haul more, a rear rack with baskets or panniers can make a huge difference. But for short commutes in town, that’s pretty much all you need.
Helmet? Check. In fact, I bet you’ve got five.
Are you worried you’ll get to work hot and sweaty and stinky? I bet you leave for work pretty early, probably before it gets really hot. And I bet you know how to use a baby wipe, too. What if you left some wipes, along with a change of clothes, at your office?
Give it a try, just one day a week. You don’t have to commit to riding the entire month, all month. But you may find it’s more fun than you realized, especially when you wave at the cars stuck on Lincoln Avenue in 5 p.m. traffic, while you scoot along the Yampa River Core Trail enjoying the river, the breeze and the sun. You also get great parking, since you can always get much closer to the door and can lock your bike almost anywhere. So get on your bike and use it to make your life easier.
Maybe the idea of biking to work intrigues you, but you’re not sure about dealing with cars? The Core Trail is a great resource for getting from one side of town to the other, so that you aren’t biking in traffic the entire trip.
As you drive around town, maybe you’re unsure how to deal with bikes on the road or at crosswalks? Bicycle Colorado will be offering a free class on bicycle-friendly driving, in conjunction with Routt County Riders. The class will be 90 minutes, at 2 p.m. June 18.
I know we are all above-average drivers, even great drivers, but you may be surprised at what you can learn about being a better driver, and how to safely coexist with cyclists and pedestrians. After all, our streets and roads aren’t just for driving. We walk our dogs, we run on them, our children play there. Sign up at http://bit.ly/Steamboat618, and ask your friends to take the class too.
Holly Weik is a member of Routt County Riders.
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