So… I kind of hate Bike to Work Day. I have a good reason! I swear. I totally am a supporter of alternative transportation, and entirely rely upon it myself. I do not own a car and take the bus, train, bike or walk to my destinations. I have some privilege in the fact I live in an area that alternate transportation is possible. I actively communicate with people how I feel and why I do what I do to get around. I can talk through a “… How do you not own a CAR?!” conversation any day.
But Bike to Work rubs me the wrong way. For one thing, all these places are giving free breakfasts and food and giveaways and etc. Great. You’re trying to support the movement. Wonderful. But what that does is reward ONE DAY of not driving. They deserve an award! Hurrah everyone! They did the unthinkable! One day! I couldn’t imagine!
And it’s privileged and classist. It’s rewarding people who already own cars who can choose not to drive for one day. Those who cannot afford cars *must* use bicycles and public transportation to get around. Hello poor people and college students. Poor people are not riding a bike to save the world per se. They are riding a bike to actually get to work or to class. Sure, they can join in on the fun and all too, I get it. If they have time to stop on their bike ride to work and everything.
But what about those who get up at 4 am to take three buses to work fifty miles away? Why is it *just* bicycles? Buses and trains are also alternate transportation and can be very carbon neutral depending on the system. What I end up seeing is upper middle class people in spandex riding 4 thousand dollar Cannondales on Bike to Work Day. Another day to celebrate privileged consumerism! But who cares about the bus? The bus is what po’ people take. Let’s ignore it and celebrate that we exercised once!
To me, it’s like Coastal Cleanup Day- one day of good to wash clean the sins of every other 364 days.
It shouldn’t be just about *one* day. It should be encouraged to happen as much as it can. All alternate transportation. I know that’s the drive behind this movement. But bicycles aren’t the only solution- they are part of a bigger better plan.
I have an idea. Why don’t we retitle it “Ride (or Walk) to Work Day”? Then that way ALL alternative forms of transportation are encouraged and celebrated and addressed. It would fit better into the growing movement, and address the needs of everyone instead of a few.
Just a thought. For now I will glower at the Sunday riders as I walk my usual route to the bus, then walk the mile in the woods to work. As I do every day.