Friday, May 16, 2008

Drizzly Bike to Work Day (or Too Many "Naked Bikes"*)

Well, today was Bike to Work Day in the DC area, and as usual, I was at the Vienna, VA pit stop as the designated mechanic at 6am. Our shop, Bikes@Vienna, sponsors that stop, so my boss John and I pitch in and do our bit. It's a lot of fun, and gives me a chance to help folks who are riding to work, sometimes for the first time ever.

The day dawned grey and drizzly, and a bit on the cool side, so I'm sure turnout was lower than we had hoped. Still, there were quite a few folks who stopped by to avail themselves of drinks and treats and coffee, as well as take a chance on a raffle prize. Not too many came to me for mechanical help...most of what I did was pump tires for people who hadn't thought of it before leaving home.

One thing that really struck me today was the nearly total absence of fenders on the bikes people were riding today. In light of my recent post about commuter bikes and my personal feelings about fenders, I suppose it's not surprising that I would notice this. Of all the bikes that stopped by, I'd guess only 7 or 8 had fenders of any kind, and about half of those were what I think of as "vestigial fenders"... those clip-on, partial coverage, minimally effective bits of plastic that so many people choose when they finally give in to the reality that it does, in fact, rain in this world. In fact, I really only saw one person "fully equipped" (in my opinion)... the gentleman on a Cannondale touring bike with full coverage fenders, rack, lights, cycling-specific rain gear and waterproof (really! waterproof!) Ortleib panniers.

But the best part of the day was the excitement and commitment of everyone who stopped by on their ride to work today. Here's hoping that they stick with it, at least some of the time. I'm sure some will... it would be nice to think this could be the start of something big, but I think it's a long way down the road.

* I borrowed the term "naked bike" from Joe Breeze, one of the pioneers of the mountain bike and head honcho of Breezer Bicycles, a company dedicated to transportation bikes.

No comments: