Friday is officially Bike to Work Day. Hopefully, the streets and bike paths will be busy with loads of new bike commuters. It’s the one day when you can count on seeing a wide variety of people riding to work on all manner of bikes. Personally, I hope there's a lot of smooth-running beater bikes out there with smiling riders on them.
I changed my approach to bike commuting several years ago after reading a post by Patrick O’Grady over at Mad Dog Media. I can’t remember all the details, but Patrick basically suggested that everyone would be better off if we chucked the lycra and fancy jerseys, and started riding to work in casual shorts and Hawaiian shirts.
Bike commuters should set a good example, he wrote, by making the ride to work look like something anyone could enjoy. Dressing up like a bunch of wannabe racers and zipping around on exotic-looking bikes only serves to make bike commuting look alien to an outsider, so we should strive to look like average people doing a normal thing.
His logic was brilliant, and I adopted his philosophy as a daily habit. The bike I ride to work is old, dirty and practical, complete with fenders. My pants are cotton cargo shorts from Cabela’s—unfashionable, but loose and comfortable enough for short rides—paired with a common T-shirt when the weather allows. I’m also fond of coasting while casually carving big, slow slalom turns, because it’s fun. And looks it.
This whole approach is a win-win for me because, frankly, I’d look pretty stupid all gussied up in lycra shorts while pedaling a muddy old bike with fenders, slicks and a rack trunk. But I also like thinking that maybe—just maybe—a few drivers will see enough casual schlubs like me riding to work and one day think to themselves, “Hell, I could do that. ... Hmm.”
Have a great Bike to Work Day. I hope you’ll make it a casual Friday.