Let’s take a spin into our 2016 resolutions. Here is Bike Happy Cascadia’s top ten suggestions to add to your list.
- Visit a foreign city
Victoria and Vancouver are beautiful cities, and so are Seattle and Portland. We have so much to enjoy and learn from each other. Get a passport, rent an AirBnB, and bring your bike.
- Embed yourself in another culture
Bicycling isn’t just how you ride a bike. Lots of other people have figured out to do others things on bikes, and they are all awesome. Go seek out the randonneurs, mountain bikers, road racers, cross racers, bikecampers, bike polo players, zoobombers, BMX riders, trick riders, disaster relievers, and then ride with them for a few months and see how you like it.
- Get a new wardrobe
As you embed yourself in another culture, be sure to try on their attire. I know people who’ve never biked without wearing Lycra, and others who’ve never worn Lycra — they can’t imagine a world otherwise. I’m not much for costumes, but I love the different worlds I can slip into with a new bike outfit. So try on something new: Lycra, wool, jeans, tweed, suits, seersucker suits, tuxes, dresses, skirts, snow pants, parkas or nothing at all. Ride with a helmet, ride with a cap, ride with a cape, ride with the wind blowing through your hair. Have some fun.
- Explore nature
Here in the Cascadia where the forests and mountains are so close to our cities, bikes are the perfect tool to get to a hiking trailhead, go fishing or camping, or enjoy miles and miles of wild gravel trails.
- Shop local
An increasing number of restaurants, breweries, coffee shops, and apartments are catering explicitly to people who bike. Patronize them regularly to reward them for helping build a more bike-positive community.
- Learn a new language
Building a better community requires consciously choosing words of exactness and empathy. Learn to say “crash” not “accident” in order to prevent prejudging a lack of negligence. Humanize by saying “people who [bike], [walk], [drive] or [take transit],” instead of defining people as little more than machines [cyclists, drivers]. Stop victim-blaming by goodbye-ing a person who bikes with “bike happy!” instead of “ride safe!” and by accepting people’s choice to not wear a helmet. If you already know this language, you still can learn so many other languages. Each sub-culture within bicycling has its own, so go accomplish Resolution #2.
- Commute more
In the United States, one-third of people report that they bike at least once a year, but only one percent of workers use a bike as the primary way they commute to work. Most of us resolve to “bike more” each year, and the easiest way to commute by bike just a couple more days per month. My bike commute is usually about eight miles to downtown Seattle, and its faster than bussing or driving and parking a car. My Bern helmet keeps my hair in-place, and winter’s cool days keep the sweat to a minimum — just slow down if sweat is the issue. You can do it, at least one more time each month.
- Read more books
You’re going to visit a foreign city, embed yourself in a new culture, get a new wardrobe, explore nature, shop local, learn a new language and commute more — you’ll do better if you read-up. Luckily there’s plenty of books on how to fix your bike, how to bike commute, the history of each bike culture, bike routes by city and region, and so much more. Go seek them out.
- Be nicer
Sometimes people driving deserve the bird. Most of the time they do not. As you roll through a confusing four-way stop, point the direction you’re going to the drivers and then give a friendly wave. Not only will they be a good ambassador for people who bike, you’ll also help prevent confusion or a dangerous collision. While you’re at it, when stopped at a light or biking up a hill with other people on bikes, smile and say hello.
- Prevent theft
Register your bike on Bike Index and Project 529 Garage. Know how to use a U-lock and always use it. If you see something sketchy at a bike swap or on eBay, Craigslist, Kijiji, Pinkbike, OfferUpNow, Facebook, or the streets, be a Good Samaritan and check it against Bike Index’s and Project 529’s stolen bike listings. You’ll get good karma for 2017.