Here in the United States, promoters of biking and various groups attempt to rally public awareness around the health, environmental, cost, and multiple other benefits of biking by having “bike to work month” and “bike to work day.” This is important, because these activities can turn the attention of a chaotic media landscape for a brief moment on the incredible versatility and value of biking.
The down side is, once the day, week, or month passes, the next worthwhile cause takes the spotlight, and the public’s attention quickly turns away from biking, and without sustained interest, meaningful policy work and political momentum fizzles. Luckily, I live in a Seattle that at least has a critical mass of cyclists and some more “advanced” infrastructure to help keep cyclists somewhat safe from the perils of sharing roads with vehicles. To Seattle’s credit, it is getting ready to update its bicycle master plan. (For anyone who is from Seattle and who has not taken the survey, please do so.) And nationally, many advocates are working hard to sustain a national movement one community at a time.
As a highlight of “bike to work day” on May 18 in Seattle, a portion of the Ballard neighborhood was closed to vehicle traffic. Bikers were able to lock their bikes to makeshift bike locks. This is a scene we seldom see in this country because too few businesses and governments support and pay for basic infrastructure to make cycling more doable — such as having secure areas to lock bikes and accommodate them. (This is not the case in every community, and cycling advocates throughout the country are working to ensure new developments accommodate bikes with the right bike racks.)
I remembered my travels to Germany. Even back in the 1980s, I found hundreds of bikes locked outside, in large bike parking areas, that were used during every month of the year, including winter months. I long for the day when bike racks are common in front of every building, and every rack is occupied by a locked bike.