Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Biking to Work

Last Friday was Bike to Work Day here in Seattle. In my job and my life I preach the gospel of every day being Bike to Work Day but this annual event does serve as a nice catalyst to get some new riders to try bike commuting. The folks at the Cascade Bicycle Club Education Foundation do a terrific job of lining up sponsors, coordinating volunteers and making sure a lot of little things happen to make the day a success. Each year my own commute is a little extra special on Bike to Work Day.

Friday I was out the door at 5:11 AM. About an hour later I rolled past the crew setting up the commute station on the Seattle side of the I-90 floating bridge. When I got to my office at Bikestation Seattle at 6:28 AM, Barb already had the table set up outside and we were getting our first commuters coming through. I dashed over to the nearby Starbucks to pick up the two big bags of scones and muffins they were donating to our station.

Over the next few hours, we saw a lot of commuters. We gave people various bike maps,Clif Bars, water bottles, pastries and clever little nylon neck wallets. Joe give people free bike inspections and quick bike adjustments. We completely sold out of $10 Bike to Work Day t-shirts and even sold a couple of the volunteer shirts we'd been given.

Eileen Kadesh from Metro has seemingly limitless reserves of energy. She not only got Starbucks to pledge us the scones, she'd ordered in the cool wallets. And every day she works to make the Metro system work for cyclists. Friday she spent the first few hours of the morning at another station before coming down to the Bikestation with another of her Metro colleagues to work the later shift at the table outside.

Elsewhere in the city, hundreds of other folks were doing similar things. The event was very successful. I don't think my buddy Chris Cameron will mind if I quote a bit from an email he sent us:

Our heartfelt thanks go out to you for an amazingly successful 2006 Starbucks Bike to Work Day. We had a good feeling this year was going to be significantly different than in years past. 2006 had 15,234 bicycle commuters counted by our forty stations compared to last year's 10,098 riders. (A 52% increase in twelve months and a 283% increase since we started counting in 2000)

We appreciate all of you who come over to Sand Point to pick up and drop off supplies, sell t-shirts, arrange workstations and volunteer your precious time to the event. We understand that the success of this event is a direct result of the time and effort put in by our station sponsors and our many wonderful volunteers. Every year the stress of producing such a huge event pales in comparison to the overwhelming positive wave and spirit of volunteerism that makes bike to work day so special.

Think about that. Over 15,000 commuters. Over 15,000 people not in cars. Maybe the price of gas should get as much credit as all the t-shirts and pastries and free water bottles and volunteer effort, but I'm not going to thank the oil companies. I'll thank Chris and Eileen and Barb and Joe and all the folks out there on bikes, doing their bit.

There is alternative energy, it's human energy. It's not just how these good people go to work every day, it's why they go to work every day.

Keep 'em rolling,



Ainsley Wiles said...

I wish we had that here in SC. Your event was mentioned at a bike summit in Columbia my state's capital. Hopefully in a few years we will have caught up with you. The fear of ending up under the wheels of a SUV has kept me from commuting, one day...

Chris said...

Biking to work rules. I've biked to work probably every day for the past nine months except for the rare times I had afternoon meetings too far to get my boss to let me bike too. And those I can count on less than my fingers. I love riding my bike to work everyday and not having to ever fill up for gas. Plus I get to eat all the delicious donuts my coworkers bring in with no guilt! :)

mike said...

The Human Powered Future...

Imagine that for a moment. Imagine that everything we do revolves around people - real people - living good lives - creating and making a life for themselves with their bodies, minds, and spirits.

Alternative energy indeed!

Keep writing Kent.
Mike, from far away in Vermont