Bike to Work Day Is Really Annoying for Those Who Always Bike to Work

Categories: bikes

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If you typically bike to work, then Bike to Work Day is probably when you avoid your usual cycle-friendly commuting route because it is now clogged with clumsy inexperienced cyclists.

Or, you're one of those clumsy inexperienced cyclists who has just mustered up the courage to drag that neglected bicycle from the garage or relieve it of its coat hanger duties long enough to wobble to one of the Bike to Work free breakfast events.

While Bike to Work Day certainly promotes a good, clean, healthy, alternative to cars, does it do much beyond piss-off existing cyclists and take a few cars off the road one day a year?

There's great evidence that more people ride on Bike to Work Day than any other day:
According to SFMTA counts, 54 percent more commuters bike on that day than any
other day in the same month. And the SF Bike Coalition says that bikes make up 73 percent of total traffic on Market and Van Ness during Bike to Work Day. There is no good metric to measure whether those cyclists continue to ride to work after Bike to Work Day comes and goes. But it doesn't seem so: According to the 2012 San Francisco State of Cycling Report, total bicycle traffic clocked in at a measly 3.5 percent.

Kristin Smith, Communications Director of the San Francisco Bike Coalition, says that number is growing.

"There's no set tracking of individuals who started on Bike to Work Day and whether they continue to ride, but we hear from many SF Bicycle Coalition members that they started riding on Bike to Work Day, and many people in our free bike education classes say they rode on Bike to Work Day and are coming to the class to get more encouragement to ride every day," Smith said. "Comparing bike counts year-to-year, it's clear that every year, more and more people are joining the two-wheeled movement."

Yes, one of the really great things about Bike to Work Day is it teaches recreational cyclists and novice riders everything they need to know about using their bike as everyday transportation. Still, do you really want everyone commuting to work by bike?

If the citywide cycling rate was anything like it is on Market and Van Ness on Bike to Work Day, there probably wouldn't be enough bike lanes, bike racks, or even close to enough room on BART, Muni, and Caltrain to accommodate all those budding cyclists.

Which brings us to our next point.

What Bike to Work Day does exceptionally well is demonstrate not just that biking to work is possible, but it highlights all the things that are needed to get more commuters to continue biking to work. If San Francisco really wants to lure more cyclists to the roads, it needs more bike parking, bike lanes, low speed limits, calm traffic as well as a positive political climate, and a bike sharing program (which is coming, albeit in modest fashion).

As we know, San Francisco isn't a bike paradise. The city didn't even crack the top 20 in the world on the Copenhagenize Index of bike-friendly cities. Neither did Portland. Neither did Minneapolis. No U.S. city did. But it's not impossible to dramatically improve bikeability quickly: Seville went from .5 percent cycling share of transportation to 7 percent in six years. In the same time frame, San Francisco had only a 1.4 percent increase.

So if you were one of those pissy cyclists who was crowded out of your normal parking spot yesterday or nearly run down by a bakfiets loaded with toddlers, don't take it out on your fair-weathered cyclists -- it's not their fault really. Instead channel your righteous indignation toward those who are responsible for making the streets -- and life in general -- better for cyclists: Call Mayor Ed Lee and your district Supervisor. Get educated and involved in city bike projects, and join the San Francisco or East Bay Bike Coalition.

What better time to start than the day after Bike to Work Day?

Leif Haven is a writer and cyclist living in the Bay Area. He's can be spotted dragging himself up a hill -- literally and metaphorically.




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14 comments
tahoe3
tahoe3

You win the dumb internet article of the day today, no mean feat.


I've heard plenty of chatter that "We should not build bike lanes because not everyone can ride a bike" but this is the first time I have heard "Cycling doesn't scale, if too many people ride bikes it won't work"

prinzrob
prinzrob

I've been riding my bike every day for over 10 years, and personally love the extra company I get on Bike to Work Day. Even if that person never commutes by bike for the rest of the year, at least they now have experienced it for themselves and have a better understanding of the needs and concerns of all the folks who do bike regularly, which might translate into more patient and safe driving behavior on their part.

To anyone who hates dealing with "clumsy inexperienced cyclists" on this single day of the year 1) remember that you were just like that once, and 2) maybe try taking an hour off work, volunteering at an energizer station and cheering them on. Then, after everything has been cleaned up and packed away you can head off to work like usual, just you and all the cars.

Kevin
Kevin

I'm a bike messenger and I believe that more people biking helps everyone, even me. More people biking means more people are advocating for safer infrastructure and more motorists are watching out for bikes. There is nothing preventing the author from taking the lane if they wish to go faster.

farly
farly

Hey this happens every year..  The people that ride everyday are not shy about expressing their disdain of the newbies and wannabes.  They (cyclist) really don't want to share the road, they just want everyone else to get-off of their road. 

your_neighbor
your_neighbor

Wow, you sound like you had a fixie *way* before everyone else had one.

Perhaps you have an ironic mustache, which, ironically, is not intended to be ironic.

Finally, please let us know where to get a good cup of coffee around here now that Four Barrel and Ritual are played out.

Thanks.

azb324
azb324

Does this column have any editorial supervision?

tyronebiggums
tyronebiggums

Cyclists like to see more bikes on the road, it raises  the awareness of drivers which hopefully they will keep even after bike to work day is over. Fred flinstone douchebags don't like bike to work day because they have to either swerve or stop at stoplights behind other cyclists. 

Pascal Christeller
Pascal Christeller

I don't go to bars on St. Patrick's day or New Years Eve and I don't cycle on bike to work day.

carsonstanwood
carsonstanwood

Leif - Journalism Pro Tip: Actually citing a few bike commuters who are annoyed by newbies would help you prove that you have a point. These are sometimes referred to as "quotes". No, you can't be one of them. This piece is filler. With typos.

stuartscottt
stuartscottt

This guy was biking to work before it was cool

mrericsir
mrericsir topcommenter

Whatever you do, someone will complain.  There's no reason to listen.

Zack
Zack

ah San Francisco... a town that really knows how to bitch about everything. 

evan.goldin
evan.goldin

@carsonstanwood Whoa whoa, but that involves what we call "work" and "journalism". That's a bit much to expect, no?

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