I should preface this contrarian proposal by affirming my support for Bike to Work Week, which begins today, Friday, May 9, and continues through next Friday, May 16 here in Madison. As someone who commutes to work by bicycle whenever the weather and other circumstances allow, I'm all for encouraging more people to do so. It's fun. It's healthy. It's relaxing. It's inexpensive. It's pretty darn green. The city's network of bike routes also makes it pretty darn easy and safe to bike to work. Depending on your route, it can also be quite scenic.
Sponsored by Isthmus and a long list of other cool businesses, Bike to Work Week includes a full schedule of events for commuting cyclists. This evening at 5 p.m., for example, the east-side Trek store is organizing "Bike to the Movies with Gary Fisher," an event featuring the renowned mountain-bike industry leader and a screening of the mountain-bike documentary Klunkerz; tickets for this Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin fund-raiser cost $30, and they're going fast.
Saturday's event is an Art Bike Rally convening at 10 a.m. outside the Madison Children's Museum for a ride around the Capitol starting at 11 a.m.
Sunday is Bike to Shop Day at the Willy Street Co-op, where We Are All Mechanics will offer 15-minute commuter safety checks from noon-1:30 p.m.
On Monday, Williamson Bicycle Works sponsors "Treat Your Bike Right Day," offering tech stops from 6:30-9 a.m. at its location on West Washington near the Southwest Commuter Bike Path.
Cafe Zoma and Revolution Cycles team up to offer coffee and bike safety checks from 6:30-9 a.m. Monday through Thursday during Bike to Work Week, on the East Isthmus Bike Path off the 2300 block of Atwood Avenue.
Tuesday is Isthmus Bike to Work Breakfast Day, with coffee and food supplied by local merchants and bike safety checks sponsored by Erik the Bike Man, from 7-9 a.m. outside the offices here at Isthmus at 101 King Street off Capitol Square.
The week also includes a good number of other events leading up to the Planet Bike Final Fiesta, featuring music by the German Art Students from 4-7 p.m. next Friday, May 16 at the Vilas Park shelter. Thecomplete schedule and all other fine print regarding festivities are available at the 2008 Bike To Work Week Madison guide provided by the Bike Fed.
But in perusing the schedule of Bike to Work Week activities, there is one glaring omission.
Here's my contrarian proposal: Bike to Work Week needs a Drive to Work Day. Designate one day during Bike to Work Week when participants who would otherwise commute to work by bike are prompted to leave their bikes at home and instead commute to work by car.
To be most effective at illustrating the advantages of cycling to work, Drive to Work Day participants should endeavor to arrive at their parking ramp or lot by 6 or 7 a.m. so as to improve the chances that all the parking stalls will be full by the time most habitual automobile commuters arrive. Talk about a Critical Mass ride: Imagine the long lines of cars backed up at the entrance to parking facilities, waiting for the RAMP FULL sign to blink off.
While drivers wait, it might dawn on them that when one bikes to work, there is never a shortage of places to park your bike for free.