“Just try it!”
That’s the message some veteran bike commuters on the TPB’s technical program staff gave when asked what they would tell folks who might be considering taking part in the region’s annual Bike to Work Day, coming up Friday, May 19.
“What have you got to lose?” said Steve Osborn, a specialist with the TPB’s Commuter Connections program, which promotes non-drive-alone commute options. “It’s just one time. You might end up loving it and do it all the time.”
And that’s what the event’s organizers hope will happen. In all, more than 18,000 people are expected to participate in this year’s event. And 86 temporary pit-stops throughout the region will welcome event participants with free tune-ups, refreshments, giveaways, and entertainment.
Reasons you might actually like biking to work
Mike Farrell manages bicycle and pedestrian planning for the TPB. He says he bikes to work every day from his home in DC. “It’s almost a job requirement for me, Mike says. He suggests that first-time riders try out Bike to Work Day. “It’s a good day to start riding, because there are a lot of other riders to offer visibility and encouragement. Bicyclists are safer when there are more of them.”
Mike adds that he looks forward to Bike to Work Day because it’s a celebration of what he loves. “It gives me a chance to interact with other bicyclists, bike-related businesses, and planners. I like to hear about all of their plans and programs. Plus, the free coffee and bananas. Everyone loves those,” he says.
Charlene Howard is one of the TPB’s transportation data analysts specializing in GIS. She bikes to work a couple times a week from her home in Prince George’s County. She says she likes that she can see wildlife along her route, including deer, foxes, and turtles. She says the hardest thing for people is just getting started. “Once you do it, it’s fun and easy. You don’t need to build it up. Just hop on your bike and go.” She’s excited to take the long way into work this year to take the new Anacostia River trail leading into the District.
Commuter Connections’ Steve Osborn is a little newer to biking. He started about a year ago, when Metro shut down for a full day on March 16. Steve hopped on a Capital Bikeshare and liked it so much he bought his own bike. Now he bikes to work about three times a week and takes Metro on the other days, especially those when the weather is bad. “It’s nice to get some fresh air and get outside,” he said.
Some extra advice for new bike commuters
The experienced bike commuters on TPB staff offered a few tips to first-timers. Charlene said the most important thing for new cyclists to remember is to treat bicycling seriously. “You’re still a vehicle on the street so you need to pay attention to your surroundings,” she said.
Steve suggested mapping out and planning your route ahead of time. “Knowing where you’re going will make your ride easier. You’ll feel more confident and it’s one less thing to think about on the road,” he said. He also suggested learning a little bit about how to maintain your bike, noting that bikes can break down over time just like a car.
Mike acknowledged that his commute is short that even if it rains he doesn’t get too wet, or if it’s hot, too sweaty. But he said that mornings are usually not as hot and if you ride slowly you won’t get too sweaty.
Beyond this advice from a few of the veteran bike-commuters on TPB staff, first-timers also have other resources. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) offers classes for people who want to learn how to ride or learn to ride more confidently. People can also join a commuter convoy or get matched with a buddy for the ride in. And it’s important to keep an eye on the weather forecast. Bike to Work Day goes on rain or shine, so be sure to dress appropriately.
Share your Bike to Work Day experience with us. Share your photos and observations with us on Twitter! Use #BTWD2017 and follow @BiketoWorkDay, @WABADC, @NatCapRegTPB, and @MWCOG to join the conversation.
Join the fun now and be sure to register at biketoworkmetrodc.org