Today is Bike to Work Day where I live. This is a special day where we ask each other to leave our cars at home and commute by bicycle instead. But I believe that it’s equally important to show that we appreciate the people who always bike commute every day, so I also consider today Bike to Work Appreciation Day.
Why bike to work?
When we encourage people to bike commute, we tend to mention its benefits for the individual: you save gas, you get exercise, you avoid parking, you won’t be stuck in traffic, and so on. These are great points, but they only take us so far. For a person who lives in a car-dependent area, then biking to work can be stressful and difficult. They may not feel like getting exercise and saving gas is worth the hassle of biking.
Then there are people who embrace the difficulties of bike commuting. They openly accept its hardships like a kind of penance. They think: someone needs to put in the work make our streets safer and stop climate change, so it might as well be me. They feel that if their struggles make our world better for the next generation, then that will all be worth it. Encouraging selfless virtue isn’t as effective of a marketing strategy as promising instant gratification, but it’s still important.
And then there are people who bike commute because it’s their only choice. These are the invisible riders. You often see them in areas with the worst bicycle infrastructure, with the fewest bicycle shops, and with the most dangerous streets. I’m unaware of statistics for this category, but most riders I see anecdotally seem to fall within it. They ride in spite of the fact that so little of our bicycle policy or infrastructure is made to include them.
No matter why people ride, let’s show our appreciation
We need to let everyone who rides know that we appreciate them. We appreciate people who ride for fun, who ride in spite of its difficulties, who ride out of necessity, or ride just to prove something. This is because bike commuting isn’t just about saving gas, getting exercise, or even stopping the climate crisis. It’s a critical thread in our mobility tapestry. Whether thousands of people bike to work in your town or just a few people do, they need our appreciation and support. Today is a great day to offer exactly that.