Did you know that May 13 through May 17 is National Bike to Work Week?
Of course you did! National Bike to Work Week is one of the most popular secular weeks of commemoration among intelligent, beautiful and athletic people such as yourselves.
It ranks second on the list of popular commemoration periods of time, right behind National Ice Cream Month (July). Hey, what can compete with ice cream? It just barely edges out World Contraception Day (Sept. 26) because although nookie is fun, contraception itself isn't all that enjoyable. But National Bike to Work Week far outpaces Engineer's Day (Sept. 15, no offense engineers, but that's just the way it is) and World Mosquito Day (Aug. 20).
This might surprise you, but I occasionally ride a bicycle to work. I do this because riding a bicycle is fun, and because I have to go to work. It's not really much of a decision, actually.
Because having fun is such a strange concept for so many in the modern world, the idea of my riding bicycle to work seems strange to so many people they always ask me a lot of questions, as if I've just returned from Mars. So I've compiled a list of Biking to Work Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Isn't bicycling dangerous?
A: It certainly can be. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 677 people died from bicycle crashes in 2011. Those accounted for 2 percent of all traffic fatalities per year. The thing about riding a bicycle, especially in traffic, is that most thinking people understand how vulnerable they are, and follow traffic rules, wear bright clothing, use lights, and work to keep themselves safe. But when people get behind the wheel of a car, which is also dangerous (32,310 people died in 2011 on the nation's highways, a record low), they seem to act as if they are immortal.
Q: Isn't bicycling to work inconvenient?
A: Yes! But so is going to work. And so is going out for a nice dinner with your spouse, taking in a movie or going shopping. Sometimes things that are fun take a little effort.
Q: Do you get sweaty?
A: I do. But I'm an easy sweater. In fact, I'm sweating right now from the effort of typing this blog. I mitigate the sweating thing by going slow, which is also more fun. And I bring a change of clothes with me to work.
Q: Does riding a bicycle to work hurt your butt?
A: A little, but not as much as sitting behind a desk for much of the day.
Q: What about the weather?
A: Ah, there is always weather. I have gotten wet on occasion. But here's the thing, if you think it's going to rain, and you don't want to get wet, or you don't have gear to protect yourself, don't ride your bike. Just because you ride bike one time, doesn't mean you have to do all the time. Maybe you'll just go once a year. Isn't that better than going no times a year?
Q: What's the best thing about riding to work?
A: I love the multitasking element of biking to work. I'm saving money. I'm getting fit. I get to be outside. I get to ride a bicycle. I don't have to drive. All with one decision.
Q: Doesn't it take you longer to ride to work?
A: I live only three miles from my office, so it takes me 15 to 20 minutes to cycle. Driving takes me 10 minutes. So for an expenditure of 10 to 20 minutes per day, I get a half hour to 40 minutes of riding time. I like that math.
Q: Does it save you money?
A: Well. Hmm. That's a tough one. Most normal people save money when they ride a bicycle to work. But I'm not exactly normal. I save money on gas, wear and tear on my vehicle and on oil changes. But I also spend a lot of money on bicycle equipment, on food that I buy on my commutes and one bicycling clothing. It's probably a wash.
Q: What do you use to carry stuff?
A: Well, I've got bags that work with a rack, a messenger bag and a backpack. The backpack seems best.
Q: Where do I learn more?
A: The League of American Bicyclists has a bunch of info here: http://www.bikeleague.org/programs/bikemonth/. There Wisconsin Bike Federation also talks about biking to work here: http://wisconsinbikefed.org/events/bike-to-work-week/.
Keith Uhlig’s blog veers toward outdoor silent sports, running, biking, kayaking, etc., but also can be about eating cheese, growing up and living in central Wisconsin and life in general. You can reach Keith at firstname.lastname@example.org.