Saturday, May 18, 2013

Every day is Bike To Work Day

"Are you part of Bike To Work Day?" a middle-aged, spandex-clad man asked me as Ollie and I caught up to him coming up that 4th Street hill in Northeast DC yesterday morning.

"Every day is Bike To Work Day for me," I smiled, suddenly feeling a little silly in my sundress and sneakers on a weathered touring bike next to this guy and his buddy on sleek racing bikes in matching outfits and clip-in shoes.

"Oh. That's pretty cool. Well, nice work getting up that hill. Have a great day!"

"Thanks. You, too!" I managed to mask the heavy breathing until we'd split off in different directions a block later. I have a badass biker reputation to uphold, after all, and I didn't want him to see me catching my breath after that killer incline.

Later, as I cycled home from teaching, a random guy in a crosswalk down near the White House called out, "Beautiful day, isn't it? Are you part of Bike To Work Day?" Now, I'm not used to such open friendliness towards bikers in this town, so I was a little startled. I didn't have a Bike To Work t-shirt on, and started to wonder if I looked like someone who didn't normally bike around. In retrospect, I realize that he might've just seen something in the news about it. I vaguely recall hearing something on NPR about BTWD as I was stepping into the shower that morning at the crack of 7am.... Okay, fine, maybe 7:30. Anyway, the memory was foggy.

Seems my local Bike Advocacy group, WABA, did a great job spreading the word around the city. While chatting with folks at a BTWD pit stop in my 'hood, and assuring them that I am a dues-paying member already, thank you very much, I learned that over 14,000 people in the DC area apparently registered to ride their bicycles to work yesterday. That's amazing! I might go so far as to suggest a low level of legitimate "traffic" in the bike lanes over the course of the day. Though it slowed me down slightly, I was elated to see so many cyclists during my morning, midday, and late afternoon commutes.

I've been noticing a lot more inverted U racks (for bike parking) and "share the road" signs around town lately. Is it possible that our nation's capital is at least becoming truly bikeable? With this many cyclists on the road, even for just one day each year, I'm hopeful.

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