Taking the Show on the Road

This is how you ride your bike to work.

This is how you ride your bike to work.

It’s that simple

A big part of the Bike Commuter Cabal philosophy is finding ways to help people engage the bike, whether to take it up for the first time (maybe in a long time), or remove barriers to riding. One way we do this is by demystifying transport cycling.

No, riding a bike for transport is not a complicated concept nor task, yet we regularly see that people do not ‘get it.’ A number of factors contribute to this confusion:

  • The thoroughly modern concept of the ‘cyclist’ as a Lycra-clad racer
  • Absence of large numbers of people on bikes on the roads
  • A persistent impression of the bicycle as a kid’s toy, just for getting around the neighborhood
  • Decades of ingrained social behavior that treats anything but the motor vehicle as impractical

Ask any one of us in person or over social media and we will enlighten you, and we have been successful in this regard. Now it is time to take the next step and move out into the real world.

Last Friday I visited Summit Consulting, a Washington, DC-based big-data consulting firm, where my wife works in human capital. Her firm is young, both in age and average age, the firm is very progressive on matters that encourage positive social outcomes, both in terms of reducing pollution and congestion, and in terms of employee health and well-being, and they wanted employees to hear about bike commuting from us. Over 90 minutes, we discussed the why (and the probably why not), the how, safety, the law and basic bicycle maintenance. And while we could have spent hours on any one of these topics, probably the most important thing I could impart upon my audience is this:

There are as many different ways to ride your bike as there are people. The spectrum runs from no special clothes, no special bike, no prior planning, just hop on and go (as typified by our #TeamCivvies captain Kristen Suzda in Philadelphia) all the way down to BCC-themed Lycra kit on a fast bike with prepositioned gear and on-site shower (as exemplified by yours truly, of #TeamThereMustBeOrder). You can ride all the way or you can mix your modes and do some subway, some bus, some car(pool) and some bike. You can ride in the nice weather or when your schedule permits it or whenever the heck you want.

Getting past How do I even is the hardest part. The rest is just a bike ride.

Summit’s blog entry on the event is here. Let us know if your organization is ready for the transport cycling moment of clarity, we will bring it to you too.

About Ben Folsom

Ben Folsom is a founding member of the Bike Commuter Cabal, a worldwide group of transport cyclists dedicated to protecting the rights of all road users and to encouraging people everywhere to ride more. Ben and his bikes live with his family in Alexandria, Virginia.


  1. I believe the bicycle has the power to change the world and I believe in your project wholeheartedly. Whenever I discuss bicycle for transport or travel by bike with others, the number one issue people bring up is safety. There is a deep belief that riding a bicycle on roadways is dangerous and life threatening. Though there is truth to the fact that a bicyclist is extremely vulnerable next to an automobile, I believe a lot of the fear is unfounded. I receive a weekly google alert with news on “bicycling”. It’s eye opening to see how many articles are written about cyclists killed or hurt in accidents. Though I haven’t tried it yet, I’m willing to bet the same google alert for ” automobiles” would not turn up lists of stories about deaths on our roadways. The truth is driving a car is extremely dangerous. Statistics prove this. But no one considers that aspect when driving to work or going on a road trip. Our culture has an unfair bias against bicycling and its time to address this. Thanks for your dedication.