Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

Ah, I have heard so little talk of resolutions this year.
Benepe taking another, littler Benepe-Roberts for a Xmas day ride in the West Village.
Maybe too many of us are afraid that we can't even live up to our own expectations, let alone expose them to our friends and family and face possible derision when the year is up for failing to reach our goals.
I have made my own resolutions privately, but on the bike front, I think this is the ideal opportunity to make a public list.

They say if you broadcast your wishes and dreams to the universe you are halfway to making them come true.
(1) Never tire of teaching others about the ways of the bike. This is an old I-Ching teaching: The mark of a great person is someone who tirelessly explains the better way with the patience of a sage, and the love for all humankind.
This might sound arrogant, but we do have the vision that a kinder, gentler country would encompass more, safer bike lanes, tougher laws to protect cyclists, and all the other things to make that possible, including funding.
No matter how difficult it might seem, you should never give up sharing that vision. This country--and the world could be a more beautiful place with fewer animals being crushed on the roads, less pollution, less obesity, more peace and quiet, less lung disease, and fewer traffic deaths.

(2) Inspire at least two people to start cycling this year. Point them to safe places where they can ride if they are too scared. Tell them that the more people there are on the road, the safer it is. Help them find a bike--anyhow they can, from Recycle-A-Bicycle, to the top of the line Parlee, Trek, or Colnago. Help them shop for accessories, and show them how to use hand signals and how to change a flat tire. Introduce them to other cyclists and clubs that can ride with them. Then follow up, and take them cycling, going slower than you normally would or can!

(3) Get involved with your local cycling organizations. So many need your help and membership, from the New York Bicycling Coalition, to Transportation Alternatives, to TimesUp! It's not just money they need: they also need feedback on their ideas and policies, and if you sit there numbly in disagreement with them but also with a subsequent lack of will to get involved, you do yourself and them a big disservice. There is always a nice way to make your point. If they don't listen, you can always put your energies elsewhere. Donate your company's services for free or at no profit.

(4) Convert at least two trips this year that you normally take by public transit or car, into a bike trip. This should be easy for most of us, but if you pick a real challenge, it might be easier said than done. For example, have you considered converting your trip to your country house to a combined train and bike ride? Or how about some winter cycling? Expand your thinking a bit even if it seems a little uncomfortable.

(5) Make an effort to share your joy with other cyclists. Too often we ignore the joy that we share with other cyclists. Make an effort to schedule at least one bike ride a month with that friend who also rides and whom you rarely see.

(6) Take at least one Pedicab instead of a Yellow Taxi or gypsy cab. These guys work for living, and they fight every day for the right to stay on the street amidst the millions of cars.

(7) Get involved at least once this year in establishing more bike ways and lanes. Whether you are in the city, suburbs or the country, becoming more politically active is an extremely important way to get more cycling amenities. If a bike lane is being debated in your neighborhood, show up for the hearings, with a prepared message. If you live in the country where there are no bike routes, contact your local, state and federal reps to find ways to install them.

(8) Provide bike parking and showers in your place of business starting this year. If you aren't the boss, tell the boss you want them before you are hired. If you are the boss, tell the landlord and leasing agent you expect bikes should be allowed safe parking somewhere in the building. You can also provide incentives for employees who travel by bike by subsidizing their parking fees. If you are a garage owner, look into ways to provide these types of facilities at your location.

(9) Love your bike this year. Okay, this is a little weird, but how many people do we know who literally obsess over their cars? That's far stranger. Keep it clean, greased, and in good working condition. Don't leave it in the rain, ignore it for days, weeks, or months at a time. Give it a good place in the home where it won't be bumped or scratched.

(10) Teach at least two drivers how to drive around cyclists. Maybe it will be your aunt or uncle, and not that angry person on the road who just buzzed you. But if you let at least two people who have no connection to cycling how much space they need to pass, how not to turn in front of cyclists, and how to treat cyclists with dignity and respect instead of like second class citizens, can you imagine how many more people may come to appreciate cyclists?

(11) Use world class manners and safety measures on the road, starting today. Don't ride three abreast on a single lane road. No, it is not safer for you, and it irritates the hell out of drivers. Why would we want drivers to be pissed at us? It doesn't help us at all. Use your hands and arms to gesture when you are pulling out. Stop at lights to show that you are a part of traffic, and should be treated as such. Make it a point when riding in groups where peer pressure expects you to blow through red light intersections to declare that you are not a red light runner. Treat other cyclists with the same courtesy you would expect from drivers: politely pass, don't buzz them, and don't verbally abuse them.

I'd love to hear what you can add to this list.

Happy New Year.

2 comments:

Gary said...

Jen,
Did you build your own bike frame? I couldn't help but notice your name on the downtube.

chris said...

It is a ideal list, a little too nice, but definitely aspirational and idealistic. I really appreciate it.

I do many of those things, and am blessed with bike parking at work. I need to evangelize a little and share my joy, not like a crazy religious person but in the appropriate circumstances.