In the crude wake of BP fiasco, biking to work takes on new meaning.

June 16, 2010

Just do it!

Last year, I took a fall from my bike riding into work. There was a gash in the sidewalk and then a gash in my knee! Given I hit the pavement full on, it could have been a lot worse. I waited out the momentary shock –you perspire, you shake- and got back on my horse.

A copywriter by trade, you’d think I could come up with a better opening to a story about biking to work, especially given this is bike-to-work week in Chicago. But I won’t lie to you. Safeness is not a bicycle’s preeminent calling card, and if one elects to take surface streets in lieu of bike paths, it can get even harrier. Don’t forget to wear a helmet.

Still, riding’s pluses are manifest. Especially in Chicago. Our lakefront path is among the country’s longest and finest urban bike routes, with a Great Lake on one side and a world-class skyline on the other, spanning the leafy suburb of Evanston in the north to I’m not even sure how far south. One rides through Lincoln Park, Grant Park, and various museum campuses. The path even skirts Chicago’s newest jewel, Millennium Park.

Say what you will about Mayor Daley but he loves his parks and recreation. And it shows. Da Mayor is also a huge promoter of urban biking, and our city gets more bike-friendly every day.

Yet scenery is only one of the pluses that come with riding a bicycle and by no means the most desirable one. Public transportation costs two bucks or more one way. You go two ways. Parking downtown can cost over 20 dollars a day. And let’s not even get into the cost of petroleum. Biking is free. No parking. No gas. Even the bike itself is a bargain. After all, the most expensive bicycle in the world costs less than the cheapest car.

Next to running and swimming biking is the best form of aerobic exercise, and it won’t damage your legs –unless, of course, you fall. I’m told Alex Bogusky moved his agency to Boulder Colorado primarily because of the awesome biking opportunities. Perhaps riding to work has something to do with his agency’s prodigious creative output. Physical exercise stimulates the brain. After my morning ride, I know I hit the keyboard with gusto.

Biking is quintessentially green. The Toyota Prius is a gas hog by comparison. By definition riders aren’t driving. Duh. Imagine one thousand less cars on the road, then one hundred thousand. Let’s hope the number only increases as fear of global warming escalates. It has to. The ongoing BP crisis speaks for itself.

But one doesn’t need a heightened social conscience to get on a bike. There are plenty of selfish reasons: your body, your health, your pocket book, and your creativity. And then there’s the best reason of all: it’s fun. Some mornings I feel like a boy again, hauling ass, the wind at my back…

You get the picture. Get yourself a bicycle and ride it to work this week. It will change your life. As for the excuse about showering, there are usually some in every office. We have ‘em. Ask. Besides, most agency guys look like they just rolled about of bed. Axe up. No one will know the difference.

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9 Responses to “In the crude wake of BP fiasco, biking to work takes on new meaning.”

  1. tracy said

    One of my fondest wishes is to see biking and walking (my preferred means of local travel) normalized. Too often, especially outside of major cities, it’s regarded with a mixture of pity and suspicion. Likewise use of public transportation. I swoon every time I’m in Philly or Pittsburgh.

    In our small town (technically, officially a city), our office is within easy walking and biking distance of most things. In our shop, between economic concerns, green projects and spending hours in chairs in front of computers, we don’t drive unless we have to. Yet weekly it seems someone comments on seeing me or my partner “walk everywhere.” — My favorite was an acquaintance who told a mutual friend that he was surprised I knew how to drive.

    One of these days my Catholic good girl side will lose out to temper and I’ll suggest that “your ass and our planet could benefit from putting the car keys down once in a while.”

    Good for Chicago (and other places) for supporting alternative means of getting around. May it spread.

  2. SRP said

    Catholic school girls on bikes are the ultimate turn on. Go with God…and plaid knickers!

  3. Chris said

    For all the reasons to ride to work there are 100 excuses not to. I’ve looked outside on a number of days and thought too cold or looks like it will rain.

    This week I decided I was riding in everyday, no matter the weather or how I feel. And after tonight’s commute home in the downpour, I couldn’t be happier for my decision. What a refreshing ride it was.

    • SRP said

      I got caught in the rain too. About a mile out from home. But it was a warm rain; in the words of REO Speed Wagon: “A sweet sun shower!”

  4. kid awesome said

    Honestly, I think i like riding in the rain the most. When you whiz in and out of traffic and see the sad looks on the drivers faces even though they aren’t getting wet it’s a beautiful, yet somewhat elitist feeling. Riding a bike is also as close as you can get to being a kid again… That being said, every week should be bike to work week, this is Chicago, not LA; you can get anywhere in about an hour in this city on a bike. Just make sure you have good locks.

  5. Tom Fath said

    Just read Gods of Advertising. Biking takes on quite a different meaning out here, especially in the Sierra. You’re not avoiding moving cars, doors opening and errant pedestrians, you’re going down the side of a mountain at break neck speeds on a narrow path lined with pine and rock. You have the more experienced riders whizzing by you at warp speed. I’m not twenty anymore and it can be very scary, especially when you pick up speed and the path is twisting in every direction. I tend to stay on the maintenance roads that wind their way up to the top. Great views of Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and Reno. I’m a pussy and take it easy. It’s still exhilarating and beautiful.

    Hope you’re well, always think of you because I follow Gods of Advertising.

  6. jim schmidt said

    The biking is great. The attire bikers often wear is ridiculous. Like golf outifts from the 70’s.

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