My family and I enjoyed a great Father’s Day weekend camping, away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. It was great to spend some quality time out in the fresh air, where cars don’t rule the day and people live a “simpler” life (looking at some of the other camp setups around us, I’m not sure this is strictly true). Anyways, it gave me some time to reflect on cycling and one of the questions I’m frequently asked, “how can I promote cycling?” I’ll work on a dedicated page for this topic, but in the mean time, here are some of my top recommendations:
- Get out and ride! Seriously. It’s one of the most effective advocacy efforts. Don’t just ride recreationally; commute to work, ride to the store, ride to evening meetings, ride with your family and friends, just ride.
- Follow the rules of the road and be courteous to other users. I don’t want to start another debate about the merit of the laws as they pertain to cyclists, the matter of the fact is that the laws exist and we must obey them. We can peacefully work towards changing the laws and the road infrastructure so it’s more friendly to bikes, but in the mean time we need to work with what we have. Over the long run, it does no good to flaunt the laws. Doing so is bound to upset motorists and get cyclists killed. I truly believe that cyclists can be the upstanding citizens in the us vs. them of the bike vs. car debate.
- Learn how to ride safely. I highly recommend you read the Bicycling Street Smarts. It has a wealth of information, particularly for new riders but also something for those who have been on the road for years.
- Talk about biking with your neighbors, friends, co-workers anyone that will listen. More people will listen now that gas is over $4/gal. You might be surprised who you can convert and who might just be willing to pull that old bike out of storage.
- Interact with people you encounter during your ride. Wave to other cyclists, yes even those of us clad from head to toe in spandex and riding full carbon fiber bikes can do this! Also greet other people you encounter, a simple good morning can leave a lasting memory and that person may just hop in their car and treat the next cyclist they encounter with a bit more respect. This is one of the best benefits of commuting by bike, your commute becomes a social event.
- Offer to meet up and ride with others. Many people are scared to get back on the bike, especially now that the roads are so busy. If you have the opportunity to help convince a co-worker to try bike commuting by riding in with them the first time, do it! You’ll feel great all day knowing that you helped get one more bike on the road and they will feel more confident about starting to commute on their own.
- Be a more courteous driver. Almost all of us drive a car at times. When you get behind the wheel, remember your experience as a cyclist. Make sure you follow the rules of the road. Don’t try and save those ten seconds by running yellow lights, rolling through stop signs, and speeding (yes, there are speed limits and you should actually obey them while driving). When you approach a cyclist, do so as you would want another drive to approach you when biking; slow down and pass the cyclist with plenty of room, don’t ride up on them, etc. Perhaps, just perhaps, we can get enough cyclist aware drivers out there to make other drivers begin to respect us.
- If you have kids, get them out on bikes. The best way to ensure cycling continues to get better in this country is to ingrain good cycling habits into our future generation. Teach them how to be safe on the roads and how to behave properly.
If you have additional recommendations, please comment and I’ll role it all into a more polished static page.