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Not-So-Wisecracks: Give Bike to Work Week a chance

Try getting around on two wheels for a change

It’s Bike to Work Week next week, but I won’t be taking part.

I’d like to, but my commute, 30-plus minutes by car, is a little long. The fact that I’m between bikes is also a consideration.

I’ve done Bike to Work Week before, though this was when I lived in Saskatoon and already rode my bike to work, at least during the above-zero months.

Commuting by bike saved on my fuel bill and guaranteed me a little exercise five times a week. As long as no major hills are involved, there are few physical activities I enjoy more. Maybe it’s because I couldn’t ride a bike for a long time. My dad made an ill-fated attempt to teach me at my Grade 1 birthday party, but the last thing I needed was an audience to see me go splat.

I finally taught myself a couple of years later. I’d somehow talked my folks into getting me one of those early BMX bikes that looked like a replica dirt bike, complete with fake fuel tank. The guilt got to me, so I figured I should learn to ride. I got on the seat and pushed it around the driveway, with my feet splayed, not worrying how to use the pedals.

After each lap, I gained my sense of balance and more confidence until I could pedal my way anywhere. If only life were always so easy….

I don’t think of myself as a cyclist, or pedestrian, or driver. I do all of these activities but don’t consider them part of my identity. It’s mostly because there are few discussions as tedious as people’s arguments about bikes, or worse, bike lanes. This should join religion and politics as a dinner topic best avoided. I understand the anger over obnoxious, aggressive bike riders, but if you’re constantly singling out cyclists for all of society’s evils, I guarantee you’re starting to sound boring.

Maybe no one will tell you, but chances are they’re tuning you out while they wait for dessert at the family dinner table.

North America’s approach to bike lanes, I admit, is traditionally flawed. It’s more of a slapdash fix for decades of bad urban planning. Some cities like Copenhagen have figured out better ways to integrate bikes with pedestrians and both moving and parked vehicles. Actually, “separate” would be a more accurate term.

We’re nowhere close to that yet, but perhaps someday. In the meantime, if you have a bike and it’s feasible to cycle to work next week, maybe give it a go. Or don’t. Whatever your choice, please stop kvetching about bikes. One of the greatest joys of riding is having only the sound of the wind in your ears.