Today was Bike to Work Day in Austin as in many cities worldwide. I didn’t make to any of the morning fueling stations or the gathering and speechifying at City Hall. My excuse? I don’t have a job. Well, aside from the job of being A Dude Abikes, and lemme tell ya’, it ain’t easy bein’ me. Or green. Or green me. But I do work my ass off every day, actually, I’m just not getting paid for it! I’m either researching, writing and editing this blog or my book, walking, and doing yoga… every damn day for over 16 months now (the yoga goes back over 64 months). Then there’s biking almost every single day — about 100 miles per week (sometimes less and slower lately with knee pain, but I’m still doing it). Plus I’m looking for work and housing, not to mention volunteering for Bike Austin. I did make it to the after-party like last year, so here’s my recap.
Why Bike to Work Day Is Important
It’s estimated that 3,000 people in Austin alone bike to work on this day. There were 50 fueling stations to pick up coffee, snacks and free stuff. Multiplied nationwide, and in many places including kids who bike to school, this is signficant. The more visibility we people on bicycles have, the better and safer it is for all of us and those yet to come.
That said, today’s paper released and article saying 30 people have died in traffic this year to date. Austin Traffic Deaths Up 30% Police Say from last year. Eleven of 12 of those 30 were homeless pedestrians crossing a major street or highway, and 16 people died in car wrecks. There have been two cyclists killed, which you know if you have read previous posts. So it’s not without risk, but even staying at home can get you dead if you slip in the shower, forget to turn off the stove, or a twister levels your manufactured housing. “Life is a grand adventure or nothing at all,” Helen Keller said. So why not go ride your bike? Of course, not everyone can bike to work.
Bicycle People – A Varied & Interesting Bunch
The cool thing about Bike to Work Day just seeing tons more bikes on the road (if you’re awake and on the road, that is). And all kinds of people bike to work, don’t they? From young to old, nice bike to crappy ones, full biking kits to shorts and tennis shoes. City Councilmembers, corporate types, working class stiffs, teachers, and more. And a variety of them showed up at the party. Not as diverse as the city as a whole, but still an interesting slice of humanity. Maybe you were one of them, or will be the next time you go to work, or next year.
A fun thing about being involved in a local bike group, and in biking in general, is that you get to see some cool people. There were a number of other volunteers with Bike Austin, like Adam, Patricia and Todd and Hill, the head of Bicycle Sport Shop, who’s also on the board. David, 16-time MS 150 bike rider and my first profile subject was there. You can’t get away from that guy, he’s at many of these things. (Read my interview with him – part one and part two.)
I finally got to meet Pat and Al, the very nice founders of Please Be Kind to Cyclists, a group that produced bike and driver education videos, and has done a lot of other work for bike safety. Tommy, a long-time recumbent cyclist who’s toured Europe and the US by bike, was there with his vintage bike shirt. Two members of my League Cycling Instructor class, Ashley and John. There was Mike, some random but very nice dude I met outside a bike shop just yesterday. I met Al, who gave a speech at the recent Ride of Silence about how it took a year for him to get the City to install signs and bike lanes on his street – but he did it, through persistence. And so on. I guess the point is community is good, if you’re into that sort of thing. Duh.
Raffle for BTWD Stops
There was a raffle for people who did bike to the fueling stations. The more you went to and got a stamp in your “passport,” the more tickets you got. And the prizes were cool: several new cruiser bicycles, tickets to Austin City Limits Festival weekend two, $50 of dockless bike rentals, a full bike kit and backpack from REI Equipment, and more. Winning wasn’t the point for me. I had a good time chatting with folks I knew and meeting ones I didn’t. That’s what happens when you make yourself leave the house even if you don’t feel like it due to having a fatigue headache.
The people who won were thrilled, and the ones who didn’t were disappointed. Some people even bought a bunch of tickets and went away prizeless. A Dude didn’t win even though Al nicely gave me couple of tickets. I did get to take home a poster and a granola bar. But do you know who wins when hundreds of thousands of people ride their bikes to work?
Everyone. Mother Nature (obviously, because of less pollution), kids (who may have another few days on the planet due to less carbon dioxide), car drivers (because there’s less of them, traffic is faster), bicyclists (who get exercise, Vitamin D, and street cred), bike shop mechanics (more flat tires to fix and helmets to sell), city government people (who can justify building more bike lanes), and who knows who else. Biking is good for lots of things, but I admit to being a little biased. OK, a lot. So sue me! Please don’t.
Music and Beer, Because It’s Austin
The Live Music Capital of our own minds has to have music. A trio of Latina DJ’s from Chulita Vinyl Club spun some nice beats; one of the members was a former staffer of Bike Austin. They made it a little hard to hear people talk, and the wind didn’t help, since it scratched more than one of their albums. However, they added a nice vibe at the outdoor section of the venue. And with all the brew pubs and beer snobs in town, the liquid bread was inevitable too. Beer was at happy hour prices plus a discount, though as usual I didn’t imbibe. I prefer my carbs as oats or in sweeter, tastier chocolate form.
Cheer Up Charlie’s is an establishment that identifies as welcoming to all genders, sexes and orientations, and has a good stage up against a wall of actual rock. The outside section is covered by a parachute, so you feel more like you’re in someone’s backyard than downtown. Overall, it was a fun event for people to wind down their Friday. Saying my goodbyes, I got in my walk and biked the rest of the way home to do my yoga and then write up this piece.
Well, thanks for reading my blog post. As mentioned below, comments, likes and subscribers are welcome. I hope you’ll return again next week, generally I publish late on Monday, Wednesday and Friday but sometimes shift that to the next morning.
Did you bike to work? Do you normally commute? How did it go?
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