Ottawa bike to work month just finished. I think that I met my goal of 250km and beat it by some, but not really sure by how much because I do a horrible job of tracking my distance.
For the month I set my goal to be to bike in most days, leaving a factor for sick days or days where I would take the car for whatever reason. In the end I biked every single day. Beyond that, on some days I also ran errands on the way to or from work or took longer routes. I also counted those too; or would have, if I was counting at all, which would have meant starting the GPS tracker on my phone (and even harder, turning it off at the other end). Oh, I tried, which ended up tracking my pannier sitting still for an hour at the cafe or wandering around the grocery store at an average 3 kph.
I really like the idea of bike to work month. It’s an incentive for people that would normally bike for fun or maybe errands to try commuting a few times by bike; the gateway to a new habit of summer bike commuting. Being in May, it’s timed so that people can start after the snow is gone and then maybe deciding that it’s not so bad after all. The activities that go along with it, like the free bike tuneups, are great.
How people respond to bike to work month, particularly when it comes to tracking the distance traveled, is a great personality indicator. Some people get very competitive, obsessively comparing their total km to others and pushing to do more. Others are very strict and only allow themselves to count the distance of their commute. I love to see the reaction of various people discussing how their commutes are adding up.
Some people are disappointed that it’s a “Bike to work month” and not just a “Bike month”. Surely, getting people out of their cars and onto bikes is a worthwhile cause? There’s a lot of merit to that, and it’s something I would like to see. I also see the merit in emphasizing the “to work” part to specifically get people to commute to work by bike, as opposed to bike for sport or play.
The topic also brings up philosophical questions about the nature of work. If it’s a “Bike to work” month, then what exactly qualifies as work? Is doing errands work? Even if they are on the weekend and not on the way to and from the office? And what about stay at home parents, is everything that they do work? And retirees, who by definition don’t go to work anymore? It ties into deeper passions, especially when someone tells someone else that their trips don’t count because they are not “work”.
In the end I’d like to thank the folks who put it all together, it’s a great initiative.