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.
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.
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.