Sunday, June 16, 2013

Ride To Work

I am not one of those people who gives much thought to social events built into calendars. I am indifferent to National 911 Dispatcher Week, or Mother's Day, or Breast Cancer Awareness. Is there anyone not aware of breast cancer? In a country with no health insurance coverage worth a damn we need Co-Pay Awareness Month (how much is 20% of any cripplingly expensive "proceedure"?) or National No Coverage Week for the 60 million Americans with no health care plan outside a Hope and a Prayer. With that sort of attitude you might think I am not likely to give much credence to Ride To Work Day. Alongside Andy Goldfine, the founder of this awareness campaign I believe everyone should ride to work, to save resources, support national energy independence, conservation, reduce traffic jams and chaos and make people at large happier (even me). Goldfine is the owner of Aerostich the motorcycle gear company and thus he has a vested interest in getting people to ride. But that is not really the point. Aerostich makes gear in Minnesota with local people getting paid real money to do real work so if anything we should praise him even more for trying to get people to ride and buy his stuff, if that were the point, but I don't think it is. I am a fan of Aerostich gear, it is of good quality and works as advertised. That Goldfine has a sense of humor and enjoys his passion is a bonus. That he wants to share it with the world at large is evidence of his joi de vivre.


To that end Goldfine has written this piece about why people should ride as a social good. I've cut it short but you can find it online Ride To Work 2013 , under the Resources For Advocates or in the Aerostich catalogue which in itself makes for fun reading, really, you would be surprised! Aerostich.


Andy Goldfine:


Part 1: The Missing Piece


Two pieces, actually…First, riding is a social good. Same as eating healthy, exercising and higher education. Everything we do that makes us stronger, clearer, smarter, and sharper means we can better help ourselves and our species.We become better husbands, wives, parents, and workers…better leaders and followers.


Riding motorcycles does all of this,…and it gets us from A to B with a smaller ‘footprint’, and saves us time, and reduces congestion and increasesavailable parking. Win, win, win. Win. So why isn’t everyone riding?


Because it is harder. Sitting on a comfortable couch eating junk food, watching TV, smoking cigarettes, drinking, and uh,…it’s all bad. As are cars, pizza and ice cream. But that stuff all feels soooo good…and I like every bit of it, too. The people selling us our cars, pizza and ice cream are not going to tell us those things are bad for us. And I’m keeping my car, pizza and ice cream. I’m already eating about as healthy, exercising as much, and riding as often as I can.


What’s missing?


Incentives! I want to be rewarded for doing the right thing. Because, (ahem…) this is America! Everyone here deserves this. There are only two meaningful incentives. (I already can easily ride in almost any weather to almost any destination—comfortably, efficiently and cost-effectively. Not enough.)


1. I also want to be able to save time filtering between all of the cars, just like riders in

California (…and the entire rest of the world). It’s statistically well-proven to be far safer for everyone, and it’s super-easy once you’ve done it a few times.


2. I’d also like some legal protection in case something goes wrong. Like a ‘vulnerable road user’ law for all us walkers, bicyclers, skaters, skateboarders and motorcyclers. For everyone who uses roads not surrounded by glass, metal and airbags. We all need the same level of legal protection highway workers in states like Michigan enjoy. “Kill a worker: $10,000 fine + a year in jail” roadside construction zone sign there read. We want that level of protection, too.


Those are the two missing pieces: Lane sharing (‘splitting’ or ‘filtering’) tolerance and Vulnerable Road User protection law.


It’s that simple…


Part 2: How do we get there?


Begin with “all politics is local”. There’s no reason any municipality cannot enact a law

to allow lane sharing and separately another to better protect vulnerable road users. Yes, such laws would be extremely tough to pass (of course!), and anything like that is certain to be court-challenged at state and federal levels. But this is where the pressures for reform and social change must begin.

It could happen.

—Andy Goldfine 2013

That's my favorite line from the Aerostich library of catchphrases, "Every day. No Excuses. Have fun." Of course in my neck of the woods it seems easy to ride every day. Of 13 dispatchers on staff (officers get to take their patrol cars home) only three of us ride to work, and the other two ride scooters less than a mile each. I ride in the rain and my colleagues, who already think I'm crazy to live 25 miles out of town, think I'm stupid for not using my air conditioned car. I've given up explaining the pleasure I get from riding and the self knowledge I get from riding in the cold, in high winds or in rain heavy or light. Its not much of a challenge to drive a modern car in rain even though judging by other dirvers tentativeness you'd think so because mere puddles cause tremendous traffic jams as though they were lakes. As to whether I will ride tomorrow, it depends if I'm on duty! Actually I'm off, but I look forward to my commute by Bonneville...every other day.

So I live in a relatively comfortable climate for commuting, even though there is but one road and it is flat and mostly straight...According to Aerostich if you have the proper gear you can ride more often than you think. Check it out:
The thing is, for me I just like to ride and I actually enjoy a commute on two wheels where driving a car is simply tedious. Its not all about speed, though that helps when traffic is moving slowly as it usually seems to these days on the Overseas Highway, its also about being out and doing something necessary (like getting to work!) but feeling alive while doing it. That a motorcycle or scooter does that is a rare feat in a world deadened where most sensations are deadened for us by second hand contact, usally through a window or across an electronic bridge. Our neighbors spend more time watching sports and less time doing sports.
As absurd as it may seem I see myself as above when I'm out riding (and it's just as unlikely on the Bonneville as the Vespa, I might add) but the sentiment is real. Cars are useful but they deaden sensation. I'm 55 and I am looking at the short end of my life so sensation is more important than ever. I don't buy gadgets much, least of all for my bike but I do try to make it more useful and comfortable to ride. I am not much interested in changing machines or "upgrading" as added complexity leads to more repairs and less riding. I just like to ride, and I like what I have.
And that is what tomorrow is about. Tomorrow and everyday thereafter: Go riding! No excuses!! Have fun!!!


Martha Tenney said...

Some cars suck, but how can you hate an MG? Even if it does leak oil. Cars didn't always suck.

I'm going to reroute my trip to work to see if I can do my 40 mph ride safely.

Conchscooter said...

Damn, woman, that is a kick in the groin! MGs only suck when they don't work, which is why Miatas do'nt suck. Or Fiat 500s or... Well that was a low blow anyway.

Ride safely by looking in your mirror and let them by when they close in on you. I do it all the time when I meet drivers going faster than me. It's very relaxing that way.

Anonymous said...

An interesting ride to work map. Wonder how Andy deals with Minnesota winters?
As for me, none of his apparel would ever fit me, am just way too big and tall; but then no motorcycle fits either. There are reasons for
Honda trucks, for guys like me, and for our Canadian winters.

Conchscooter said...

Aerostich makes to measure. They also sell electric gear. I'd buy it all if I lived Up North.

Anonymous said...

Actually Aerostich will do custom, however my sizings for custom are far and away beyond what the company will modify. Mike, my arms are 40 inches long for starters, my lower legs from
knees down to the feet the length is 30 forget I am big.
Chest is 62 inches at last count, and
waist is about 52 inches (and getting smaller asI continue to lose weight.

So any clothing manufacturer really doesn't want to see me come in their door. Your normal polo shirts cost me over $100.00 each...