Saturday, April 21, 2007

Earth Day at IKEA

This time of year I wind up going to a lot of Environmental and Transit Fairs. Today I rode from my home in Issaquah to the Seattle Bike Station, loaded the rear basket of my bike with bike maps and brochures and rode south to the IKEA in Renton. A dank parking garage isn't exactly number one on the list of places I'd pick to be on a Saturday, but I was spreading the gospel of bike commuting to the folks down there.

The trip along the Green River was lovely. I saw ducks and gulls and huge heron taking flight. I also saw a river restoration crew setting up for a clean-up work day. I had Peanut M&Ms and Gummy Worms in my bike's front basket, to give me the fuel I needed to haul the maps. When I go to these bike-map intensive events, I actually haul more of a load than I do when I go out on a cross-country tour, but my $20 bike excels as a beast of burden.

At the fair, the bike itself wound up being the subject of a lot of conversations. The recycled fenders and the bar-tape made from old inner tubes fit well with the re-use and recycle theme of the day. I got to chat with a lot of folks about bicycle commuting. One woman said, "I would bike commute, but I have to haul a lot of stuff." I countered that bikes can carry pretty big loads if they are set up right. I pointed to my big pile of maps and said "I brought all this on that" and then I pointed to my bike.

But once I'd made the point about hauling stuff, I switched to the technique that I've always found works the best when folks do the "I would, but..." thing.

I agree with them.

"Yep," I said, "it is kind of pain to haul stuff, but you probably don't have to haul a bunch of stuff every day. And if you can work it so there's one day when you can bike, and for gosh sakes, pick a sunny day, well then you might find you like it." She took a couple of maps. She might even ride some sunny day. She took my card as well and maybe next fall she'll give me a call asking for advice about riding in the rain and the dark. You never know how these things will turn out.

I talked with a lot of folks and gave away lots of maps and advice. There were a bunch of other eco-friendly folks displaying things and pitching their causes. Earth Corps folks were handing out Red Cedar and Douglas Fir seedlings. In addition to maps, I gave out "ONE LESS CAR", "NO POLLUTE COMMUTE" "LIVE FREE OR DRIVE" and "QUESTION INTERNAL COMBUSTION" stickers. The folks over at the National Parks Conservation Association took turns wearing the hot, stuffy bear suit. I'm really glad that the Bicycle Alliance doesn't have a mascot!

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