I bike to work about once a week. It’s a ten-mile ride, one way (give or take), a combination of riding in the street and riding on the trails, and a mix of hills and flats. It’s a decent workout.
I have a set of panniers for this commute. One bag holds my work clothes and shoes, the other holds my books, lunch, and lock.
I’ve been riding this route for almost a year now, and it’s one that I feel comfortable riding solo. Last Friday, I had a chance to ride in a group as part of Bike to Work Day. We took a leisurely pace, and I got to chat with a few of the riders. For some, this was their first time on this particular route, for others, this was their regular commute. One woman came in later and told me this was her very first time biking to work, and she found it more challenging than she had expected. I cheered her on and encouraged her to continue with the group.
We passed a solo rider on the way. “Is this Bike to Work Day?” she asked. There were murmurs of assent. “You should be biking every day!” she admonished us.
Well, sure, if you can do it. I’ve seen similar sentiments online throughout last week. For diehard bikers, every day is Bike to Work Day, even for those who don’t work– and there were some on that ride. But for people like the woman I met that morning who mustered up the courage to ride for the first time and struggled through it, a special day devoted to commuting by bike is a good incentive to try, and we should encourage folks to keep doing more instead of scolding them for not doing enough.
I feel fortunate to live in a bike-friendly town, where there are bike lanes, a strong advocacy group, and fellow riders. I like having the option to ride to work if I choose to. I realize not everyone can. But I also know that there are folks out there who are able to and would like to do so, but are a little intimidated to try. To those people, I say: ignore the naysayers and bullies. Know that there are many people who support you in your endeavor and that there are resources to encourage you to get on the road safely.