Tuesday, March 13, 2012

you deserve respect

One of the many things I dislike is mis-use of the word "lucky."  I was lucky to be born in a first world country where no one ever operated on the assumption that I'd spend my life as a trash-picker.  It is not luck that I have a safe dry place to park my bicycle when I get to work.  I have a place to park my bicycle because my company encourages bicycling. 

What you deserve if you are a bicycle commuter.

1.  A safe dry place to park your bicycle.  Locks are heavy and not always effective.  Bicycles are easy to steal and even a locked bicycle is subject to having it's peripherals ripped off. We need to know that our bicycle will be there, and look the same, at the end of our work day.

2.  The same consideration for a flat tire that is given to the automobile people.  If you get a flat tire on the way to work you're going to be late.  Car flat tires are treated as a weird unfortunate act of $deity.  Bicycle flat tires are (sometimes) treated as if the bicyclist took a reckless chance by not driving a car.  Our vehicles break down too and we don't need any added hassle from management.     

3.  Encouragement.  At my company there is an application where I track my trips completed by bicycle (pedestrians, roller-bladers and skateboarders are included here as well) and I earn money for each trip and once a year that money gets donated to a charity of my choosing. 

4.  A locker to put your stuff in, if you want it.  Work has lots of lockers but they are all "time of use" meaning you can only put a lock on for business hours.  Except for bicyclists and other non-car non-petroleum people.  If you commute forty or more times each quarter by bicycle (or feet) then you get a permanent locker of your own and a certificate for the locker.

5.  Guaranteed ride home in the event of an emergency.  You bicycle twenty miles to work and then get a call that your kid was injured on the playground and you need to go home immediately.  You need a car.  Your company calls you a cab and picks up the bill.  Or perhaps you get sick and start running a fever and you're too dizzy to walk or bicycle or whatever got you in that day.

6.  This one comes first for many people.  Showers.  I say "sure" to showers and a place to change.  I put this item last though because I'm tired of the background assumption that bicyclists are in dire need of a wash when we get to work.  Many of us travel just a few miles and I have yet to meet the person who smells worse than the '73 Volkswagen that stank up the road. 

Why do you deserve this?  What makes you so special?

1.  Anyone who does not think we have a car problem has their head in the sand.  Even if you do not believe or care about global warming and polar bears, cars are undeniable killers of adults, children, wild animals, and pets.  You deserve encouragement because you managed to escape the matrix that is the automobile experience.     

Personally I don't think I need anything after this.  The vast majority of us have some of the following:  pets, sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, mothers, fathers, step-parents, grandparents, friends, lovers, husbands, or wives.  Everything on this list is at risk of being turned into chipped beef by a car or pick-up truck or 16-wheeler.  If this is the moment you want to make a pitch about how you heard of a friend reading a story about some person somewhere who was hit and killed by a bicyclist?  Stow it.  Here's why you should stow it.  Ask any parent anywhere what they would prefer given a choice:  having their child hit by a car or having a child hit by a bicyclist.  Ask a pet owner if they had a choice between their dog being hit by a bicyclist and being hit by a car which would they choose.  No one wants to be hit by a car.  No one.  Nada.  People would rather stab their hand with a knife (really!!!) then be hit by a car.  How come?  Because cars are outrageously lethal. 

But anyways.  Here's a few more reasons why you deserve good treatment:

2.  You are not taking up a parking space.  Parking is expensive.  By bicycling you are saving your company a little bit of real estate.

3.  Bicycling (and walking) take up less room.  With seven billion people on the planet, there just isn't enough room for each person to drive their own car and cause their own pollution.


  1. This isn't something that a company can "provide" but man, can we have a moratorium on co-workers talking about how bikers must be insane to bike?

    I have a new coworker (office manager) who lives in the 'burbs and is considerably older than the rest of the office. 3 of our regular 12 employees ride 9 months of the year, and 2 of us do all 12 Our boss rides cyclecross and bikes to work very occasionally- he lives 45 miles away. Probably 3 mornings out of 5 when I'm making my coffee in the morning, this new coworker says something to the effect of "I don't know how (why) you do it, drivers are so dangerous"

    I know you get this a lot too. I've always kind of assumed she means "I drive, and I don't give a shit about bikers, so you should watch out for drivers like me."
    This assumption was proved true when earlier this week she said (as part of her morning lecture) I even hit a bicyclist when I was in NYC driving" (I refuse to comment) "She totally wasn't abiding by the rules of the road" (I decline to ask her if she has any idea what the rules of the road are for bicyclists in NYC) "I was doing a U turn" (I bite my tongue and manage not to ask her if she was doing an illegal U turn without signaling). "she only had a tiny light, and she yelled at me saying didn't you see me"

    At this point I walked away without saying anything, steam coming from my ears. If we could have a rule that people don't spout out anti-bike ignorance and passive aggressive hate, that would make a lot of workplaces more bike-friendly!
    end rant, thanks for listening- I'd blog it but some of my co-workers read the blog, so I'm trying not to.

    PS- did I post about your employer today?

  2. It's been weeks since anyone said anything to me about the dangers of bicycling, possibly because I'm such an unpleasant person. As you are a pleasant and well-socialized individual I foresee months of suffering in your future. I'm told that kind of thing improves a person, obviously I wouldn't know. If this co-worker's behavior continues into the summer, give me the plate number and I'll come by with a suitable bumper sticker ("Someone In California Hates Me") and then use my cable snips to permanently let the air out of their tires and we can both breathe a sigh of guilty relief.

    Fwiw I told the Contraption Captain that I mostly got this sort of thing from women and suggested that it was a female thing but he disagrees and says guys say it's too dangerous to bike, most recently "I used to bicycle but it's way too dangerous so I stopped." He is still mad (as mad as he gets anyways) about the guy who does not bicycle because his bicyclist friend was killed by a car. What? By this logic the victims of gunshot wounds should marry Smith&Wesson but whatever.

    I spoke to a bicyclist (!!) whose wife drives the three miles to work because "I don't let my wife bicycle to work, it's too dangerous, I just love her too much." And you know, your husband doesn't love you quite as much as that. Nor mine, apparently. Actually mine bought me my bicycle which must mean he sticks around hoping for a life insurance payout. Right?

    I can't imagine a nice company like that one employing a misanthrope like myself ;-)

    1. Don't tell anyone, but I'm totally paranoid about the Scientist's safety when he bikes.
      I worry he rides in the door zone, I worry he'll get right hooked while filtering. I worry about plane crashes when he's traveling a lot. I just worry, because worrying about something bad happening to people we love is part of loving them. The rest of loving them is that we bite our tongues and trust them to live their lives and come home to us safely.
      I put a lot more miles in, and bike much more often in objectively dangerous situations (in the dark, in the rain, in parts of town that aren't super bike friendly). But he never tries to talk me out of biking or worries out loud about my safety (other than the not escalating things with meatheads).

    2. The idea of being hit by a car is terrifying, and it really does stop people from bicycling, which makes everything worse. I totally get why people are too afraid to bicycle even though it frustrates me. I worry about the Contraption Captain although now that he is not bicycling in SF it is not quite as nerve-wracking. My general reminder to myself is that people die in their cars all the time. They die so often that it barely gets a remark. But you can't be a thinking bicyclist and not worry that you or someone you like will be killed.


  3. Showers are huge. they're not a luxury, they're a basic human consideration. Water to drink, a toilet to use, and - gasp - a shower to clean up in are a pretty meager baseline for a first-world employer. And yet it's so rare.

    1. Showers are not hug to *me* (then again, I have a wide array of showers to choose from so..) but they are huge to other people. Probably a lot of people. And so I have them here because if a bicyclist needs it to commute comfortably, I am for it.

      What I do not like is non-bicyclists suggesting they get an opinion on our hygiene. I don't give a rat's ass about what they car-people want.

  4. Nice post. I ride a folding bike to work, so I store my bike under my desk during the day, but you make some good points about other stuff - especially flat tires!
    Also - yes, 100 times I would rather be hit by a bike than a car. I've been hit by a car, and it hurts.

    1. Contraption Captain used a folder when he commuted to SF, he had (still has but it gets not so much play) a Bike Friday Tiket, super fast to fold, very cute!

      More bicycles means a safer ride for all of us (it trains the cars to look for us) so we have to have good situations for everyone, from folders to recumbents. Which you knew of course.

      Did you write up your bike-car accident? I'm always interested in reading these.