Bike to Work Day: Many Advantages to Climbing in the Saddle

BlogHer Original Post

Some people, whether by necessity or choice or both, ride their bikes to work every day. They brave the weather, traffic, and sweat in order to do something good for their bodies and the environment. Other people are more casual about biking; they’ll bike to work on occasion, but only if the weather is nice or their car is in the shop. Once a year there’s also another occasion to climb on two wheels: a special event called Bike to Work Day.

Bike to Work Day “is an annual event held on the third Friday of May across the United States and Canada that promotes the bicycle as an option for commuting to work.” Many locales organize bicycle-related events and “in some areas, pit stops along bicycle routes with snacks.” [Wikipedia]

Even though I didn’t participate in Bike to Work Day, I did hear about it in advance -- I live right outside of Washington, DC, so I saw banners up in various places, and several local blogs had written about it. (This is a good example of the advantages of living in a large metropolitan area. There are so many things to do, there’s really no excuse for not participating in something that interests you.)

I like biking, but I live over ten miles away from where I work. I also like the feeling of rinsing off in a shower after I get sweaty (which would be especially true if I biked to work and then had to spend the next eight hours in my workplace). It’s bad enough that I have walk a mile to and from my Metro stop in the summer -- it can get pretty god-awful humid around here. On pretty days, being outside is wonderful. But when it’s not-so-great, I welcome the presence of an air-conditioned train.

Even though I’m not biking, I do feel good about the fact that I take public transportation to work. I’ve been commuting to my workplace in DC for almost two years and I’ve never once driven my car there. There are a lot of weeks where I only get in my car a few times, and that’s usually just for short trips (within a 3-4 miles radius) to the gym and grocery store.

If I lived closer to my workplace, I’d be much more likely to utilize the bike I bought last summer. At this point, riding for ten miles along various types of roads (plus having to deal with scary rush-hour commuters) doesn’t hold a lot of appeal to me. But I wouldn’t rule it out if my living situation changed.

Do you bike to work? If not, would you want to?

Related Reading:

Drea at Business Pundit says Get Your Butt in the Saddle. She has a lot of good reasons for casual cyclists to participate in Bike to Work Day, as well as a list of perks for those who choose to make biking to work a permanent activity.

DC Metblogs highlighted some of the cool things that local participants were able to take advantage of (being DC, there was also “a surprise visit by the Secretary of Energy and Nobel Laureate, Stephen Chu”). Some additional examples:

* The food was excellent -- bagels and schmears, apples and oranges all nicely quartered, hot coffee and cold tea -- and plenty of it. Yay, sponsors!

* The Coast Guard contingent was particularly impressive, led by Admiral Thad Allen.

* Excellent giveaways and raffles; the drawings are the only time during the event that everyone on the plaza pays strict attention.

Debbie Leight, a Google employee writing at The Official Google Blog, bikes to work almost every Friday...and that’s 45 miles one-way.

[I]t takes about 3 hours. Most people think I'm crazy, but seeing the sun rise over the bay and feeling the rush of the air as I speed down Cortland Hill at close to 30mph on my bike makes it all worth it.

Yokota Fritz at Cyclelicious participated in Bike to Work Day in the San Francisco bay area, riding 25 miles from San Jose to Menlo Park. Yokota said she “gained about 10 pounds scarfing down Hobee's coffee cakes from 11 Energizer Stations in six cities and two counties.” She also made a short video to commemorate her ride.

Elizabeth Press at StreetsBlog reports that “bicycling in New York City shot up 35 percent” last year, thanks to “bike lanes, bike racks and other amenities...popping up everywhere.”

Biker Chick Char lives in Alexandria, Virginia (same as me!) and commutes 32 miles round-trip to her job in Washington, DC. (I’m sure she’d have a thing or two to say about my excuses.) In this post, she describes the Bike to Work Day pit-stop she made.

A regular cyclist, Maude Bauschard volunteered at a Bike to Work Day event and used the opportunity to network for a job she’d like to have.

(Contributing editor Zandria blogs regularly at


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