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  1. #1
    Senior Member tjspiel's Avatar
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    The Power of Belonging

    Our organization occupies two adjacent suites at our downtown location. I work in the smaller (much smaller) of the two suites. It's known as "The Annex". Along with housing about 10 people, "The Annex" has become the default bicycle garage for the organization.

    On nice days, you can find as many as 10 bikes crammed in back here. There are a few people who keep their bikes where they're supposed to (in the bike room down stairs), and one or two more who keep them in their office/cube or outside but this is where most of them end up.

    A slight majority of the people who spend their day in the Annex are regular bike commuters. This is a far larger percentage than the organization as a whole. We recently had someone move from the larger suite into this one. He too has now started riding his bike to work, - at least part of the time.

    My theory is that working amongst all these bikes and bike commuters has given him a little push. I'd also argue that one of the reasons more people don't ride their bikes is that it's not seen as "normal". Funny what can happen when all of a sudden it is.

    So while there are certainly practical considerations to deal with when it comes to motivating people to ride to work, the power of making it seem more mainstream can't be discounted.

    On the one hand, I'm a little irked that the Annex is viewed as a storage area by the rest of the organization, and it's not just bikes. On the other hand, I think the visibility of these bikes has contributed to getting other people to ride.
    Last edited by tjspiel; 10-26-11 at 09:21 AM.

  2. #2
    TortoiseNotHare BridgeNotTunnel's Avatar
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    It's pretty cool how a little exposure can change a persons opinion.

    I'm sure seeing how easy and enjoyable it was for others spurred this new guy on.

    Geography plays a big part in why more people do not ride to work.

    Many people think cycling in manhattan is suicidal and also travel much further than the average person is willing to ride a bike.

    One of my coworkers rides in from brooklyn sporadically but both of us have to lock up outside as this building is not very bike friendly.

    I jokingly suggested bike pooling to a coworker who lives near me and he showed no real interest.

    I did manage to get the bike commuter tax credit approved for next year, which I'm excited to take advantage of.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
    Our organization occupies two adjacent suites at our downtown location. I work in the smaller (much smaller) of the two suites. It's known as "The Annex". Along with housing about 10 people, "The Annex" has become the default bicycle garage for the organization.

    On nice days, you can find as many as 10 bikes crammed in back here. There are a few people who keep their bikes where they're supposed to (in the bike room down stairs), and one or two more who keep them in their office/cube or outside but this is where most of them end up.

    A slight majority of the people who spend their day in the Annex are regular bike commuters. This is a far larger percentage than the organization as a whole. We recently had someone move from the larger suite into this one. He too has now started riding his bike to work, - at least part of the time.

    My theory is that working amongst all these bikes and bike commuters has given him a little push. I'd also argue that one of the reasons more people don't ride their bikes is that it's not seen as "normal". Funny what can happen when all of a sudden it is.

    So while there are certainly practical considerations to deal with when it comes to motivating people to ride to work, the power of making it seem more mainstream can't be discounted.

    On the one hand, I'm a little irked that the Annex is viewed as a storage area by the rest of the organization, and it's not just bikes. On the other hand, I think the visibility of these bikes has contributed to getting other people to ride.
    I totally agree with you here, TJSpiel!

    We humans usually find solace and comfort in a group. As long as our group is small, we tend to be seen as marginally insignificant. However, as our group gains in membership, we become more recognizable. One thing about large groups though. Regardless as to how you may feel about them, you generally are made to respect them, just from their sheer numbers alone. The greater the number, the more potential power. Power commands either respect, fear, or sometimes, both.

    The good thing, is that in the case of your Annex, it's totally respect!

    - Slim
    Last edited by SlimRider; 10-26-11 at 09:56 AM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member El Gigante's Avatar
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    Good post TJSpiel! Although I'm the only bike commuter in my office, (primarily because we are a small group), I definitely notice a commraderie with other commuters that take their bikes on the subway to work. Seeing another person with a bike is an instant conversation starter because there is at least one thing that you have in common with them. And as other have noted, when a marginal group increases in size, it increases its clout - that's why bicycle advocacy has made such strides in your city and others like it.
    Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man.

  5. #5
    Senior Member alan s's Avatar
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    I try not to encourage people to ride bikes to work. I'll even go as far as emphasizing the downsides such as getting wet, cold, sweaty, etc.

    Too many bike commuters, and you run into problems like lack of space for bikes. Also, the last two times I fell off my bike were a result of other bike commuters forcing me to swerve out of my way to avoid their careless behavior.

    I know many here advocate for more bike commuters, but I would prefer they take public transportation, walk or drive, in that order. The fewer bike commuters out there, the better. I enjoy commuting in the winter much more because the fair weather bikers aren't out there.

  6. #6
    Old, but not really wise CptjohnC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alan s View Post
    I know many here advocate for more bike commuters, but I would prefer they take public transportation, walk or drive, in that order. The fewer bike commuters out there, the better. I enjoy commuting in the winter much more because the fair weather bikers aren't out there.
    I am certainly sympathetic to your plight, insofar as the crowding on the MUPs and bike lanes (and even the streets) can get annoying. Dodging cars is one thing, but having to dodge (or pass) other cyclists? Madness! I especially felt your pain the last couple of days on E Street as I was getting to the construction at... 5th st? and I had to slow way down because the cars were crawling behind some slow bikes... and I couldn't even creep past them because the cyclists were crawling essentially in the gutters!

    However, I am also a fan of bike infrastructure, and I recognize that it won't exist unless there is a critical mass of cyclists to generate support for it. I'm amazed at the increase in cycling in DC even over the past year or two -- particularly the impact of the red bikes. Sure, they can be annoying (and, admittedly unsafe) with their weaving, slow. unsteady riding, but maybe they find it annoying that I ride confidently out in the lane, and close to the speed of traffic, too. And I certainly do occasional 'unsafe' things, too -- including making errors of judgement that impact other cyclists on rare occasions.

    I'd also like to see the bike commuter incentive come closer in line with the incentives provided for other transit options (currently the Federal Gov't pays up to $230/ month for mass transit, but only $20 per month for cycling... which will hardly pay for a new set of tires, tubes, a new chain, replacement cycling oriented clothing, and other 'consumables', much less a bike shop tune up, upgrades, or the other toys I'd like). Again, without substantial increases in commuter cycling, this won't happen. I also think that an increase in the numbers of cyclists eventually will make such issues rarer, not more frequent, as cycling will be something folks do regularly, rather than something they dabble in and quit because it is 'too hard'.

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