Spring is here – time to hang out!

Cabal members Ricky Albores and Lynne Watanabe getting their coffee on. Photo by Jessica Lucas.

Cabal members Ricky Albores and Lynne Watanabe getting their coffee on. Photo by Jessica Lucas.

Looking for a great way to promote bike commuting in your area? We’ve got the answer: HIRL baby!

Why not organize a Bike Commuter Cabal Hangout in Real Life? 

Find a bike-friendly pizza joint or coffee shop and have a regular hangout for bike commuters to socialize and share mojo. Spring is here (or in the some places, coming, at least) and there will be even more commuters out and about. First-timers giving it a go in the great weather and experienced vets getting back into the swing. By organizing a regular meet-up you foster an environment that promotes sharing and support as well as putting a positive face on commuters for the non-commuters around you. Here’s some ideas to get you started.

  • Make it a regular thing. Every 2nd Tuesday of the month at lunch. Every Friday morning. Whatever. Start out with what you think feels right and then adjust from there. Maybe it becomes more often as attendance grows. Maybe its two different times for folks who can’t make one.
  • Spread the word. Post up online and in local bike forums. Make flyers and post them up on community bulletin boards or in bike shops. If a shop can’t post a flyer for you, at least make sure they know about your HIRL and will pass the word along to customers. Make sure you invite all the shop employees. In some cases you may even be able to get a shop to be a ‘sponsor’ donating swag or a dozen donuts.
  • Get creative. Give you HIRL a name/identity if you want. Set up a Google+ or Facebook page to keep people informed and let interested parties know when/where you meet and what to expect. Take photos at HIRLs and post them up to show everyone how much fun you’re having! Share them with us! Drop a line to local tv and radio outlets, print and online media, and let them know what you’re doing. Sometimes they might pick up on the story, at the very least maybe give you a shout out.

Important Stuff

Make sure you’re courteous and cooperative with business owners where you choose to hold your event. Honor any requests they might have with regard to larger gatherings/parties. If you think it appropriate, approach them ahead of time with what you’re planning. Work with them. In many cases they may be very supportive and offer suggestions on the best way to accommodate your group as well as their regulars. Make sure that bike parking is available and bikes outside the establishment aren’t an impediment to cars, foot traffic, and their regular customers. As your HIRL grows you may need to make adjustments or even change the venue.

Be all-inclusive. Offer a welcome environment to everyone from the Strava-kit-wearing triathlete commuter to the first-time-Mom with the flower basket and the step through cruiser. Encourage more experienced commuters to mentor the beginners. Welcome cyclists of any kind as well, even if they don’t commute.

Remember, have fun. As the ‘organizer’ of the event, it’s your responsibility to embody the spirit and attitude that you wish all participants to convey.

About Kent Fackenthall

Dad. Biker. Designer. Minister of Propaganda for the Bike Commuter Cabal. Find me on Google+ and Instagram.


  1. Marjolein Schat says

    Another great way to HIRL with fellow commuters is to start a bike train. @Cyclicious (+Richard Masoner) is part of a bike train in San Jose CA where ever couple of weeks they commute along a given route reaching specific meetup spots at given times. It sounds like a great way for experienced commuters to mentor new commuters. Richard describes his #biketrain here: http://www.cyclelicio.us/2014/san-jose-bike-train-begins-wednesday-february-5/

  2. Great morning @kaldicoffeebar with @jopamora @RyanSigworth @ebubar 4 #DTSSCoffeeclub – Silver Spring needs bike racks pic.twitter.com/BOiWE0TLyG— Ricky Lee Albores (@bikeeveryday) April 9, 2014

  3. Great suggestions and recommendations. Here in the DMV (DC/MD/VA) area, the quintessential HIRL is #fridaycoffeeclub (or FCC) on Twitter where all #bikeDC gathers on Fridays from 7ish to 9:30ish to sip M.E. Swings coffee and talk bikey stuff. At least two other FCCs have formed in the VA suburbs, and there is even a HDCC (Hump Day Coffeeclub) that occurs on Wed. in VA. The latest addition is a Tuesday coffeeclub in Silver Spring, MD (#DTSSCoffeeClub) started by Peter Kong (aka @jopamora on Twitter).

    All good stuff!

    • … and how could I forget my very own, once-a-month HIRL in down-town DC known as #ThursdayBikeBimBap where we gather for a delicious Korean rice bowl and of course talk about bikey stuff!