Friday, February 13, 2009

The revolution will not be motorized

I took a brief tour of the new downtown museum expansion the other day, and the architect said there will be bike racks and showers for employees. Those features are among several elements of the project that should improve the museum’s chances of getting LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification as a “green” building. I hope they help, and I’m happy to see project managers making an effort to accommodate bike commuters.

But while driving home, I wondered how many workers hear of the rare employers that offer such amenities, and then make the excuse that they can’t ride to work because their companies don’t offer showers or locker rooms. Let’s face it, Americans are masters at rationalizing laziness.

Since graduating from college 22 years ago, I’ve worked for five different companies, and only one provided exercise and shower facilities. That probably makes me lucky—I’d be willing to bet that the average working American has never had an employer provide any equipment or facilities to accommodate healthy lifestyles.

That’s no excuse for not riding to work.

And if you’re trying to use it as an excuse, you’re part of the problem.

Most companies aren’t proactive or imaginative enough to invest in long-term investments to encourage bike commuting where none exists. They look at a building full of people and see one or two bike commuters—if any—and wonder why they should spend money on a “nonexistent” issue.

American workers—including those who call themselves bicyclists but continue driving to work—need to suck it up and start a movement, one bike at a time. No more using excuses like, “Oh, I have to dress nice for my job,” or “what about my hair?” Toughen up, buttercup. Adapt a little bit, like the rest of us have done for years. And encourage others to do the same. It’s not that hard.

Tired of being ignored when you ask your employer for help? That’s because you’re numerically insignificant when the bean counters measure things like lower annual insurance claims and the reduced cost of providing employee parking.

You’re going to continue being rejected when groups of three or four people ask for new bike racks, indoor bike parking or showers.

You need a group of 20, or 40, or 60.

Get busy.


Anonymous said...

You're dead right - these things come under the heading of 'excuses', not 'reasons'.

Ian Walker has an interesting post on this, giving examples of how the shower facilities were just not used at a couple of cycling organisations.

The Bike To Work Book by Carlton Reid & Tim Grahl also lists pretty much every excuse that anyone comes up with, along with the arguments to counter those excuses.

Good luck on getting your critical mass at the office together!

Jeff Moser said...

The same things that make our small town great for cycling also make it easy for drivers to keep driving. Very little traffic, plenty of free close parking, and short drives. It's hard to convince people that they don't need to drive here.

If we had a shower at work, I'm not sure I'd use it. A wet paper towel seems to do the trick for me, and I go out mountain biking at lunch too. There are a few of us now that ride, so there would probably be a line for the shower anyhow! And besides...people stink for a variety of reasons. Not just exercise. I'd rather smell a commuter than a smoker.

Doug said...

All those perfumes and colognes people wear stink more than a commuter does.

Unknown said...

I'm with you Timmy!!! ;-)
I still won't ride to work becuase of the distance and the whole authorities-don't-approve-of-strapping-kids-to-the-handlebars thing, but I would use a shower after a lunchtime walk

Grill Meister said...

People are so frickin vain about how they look at work. Just do your damn job. Who cares what your condition is while you accomplish what you are being paid to do. Besides people who ride to work are more awake and ready to get down to it immediately upon arriving. They don't need coffee or other stimulants to get them going, they are already "rolling". Save your damn vanity for the disco on Saturday night.

Grill Meister

Banger said...

As for stinking, I am a wool nazi, and it seems to totally take care of that problem for me.

On a totally non-fascist note, the bailout bill that congress passed recently included a $20 a month tax credit to companies for each employee they have the cycles to work. That being said if your company isn't doing something with it (like providing you a place to shower and stash your stankin chamois) I highly recommend that you go to your HR department and demand that they start including the credit on your paycheck. Just a thought.