A companion site (THE PRACTICAL CYCLIST) is home to
genuinely practical information about using bikes for transportation.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Lousy Tree-Huggers -or- Reducing the Barriers

Ugg. Generally I agree with the Sierra Club. Almost always. But frequently I don't like their tone. For example, here is a wee test/quiz/survey that assesses the environmental impact of one's bicycle riding. I get it, and I agree (that's why this website is called The Practical Cyclist), but do they have to judge people to get the point across? Is the cause best served in doing so? I suggest it is not. I suggest that making people answer a survey like this makes them justify and defend their behavior, and sets up barriers to improvement. If I check off, "I drive to and from the starting point of my rides," I know what the <em>best</em> answer is, and right away I feel the need to justify my actions. I might as well add, "because it's too far away," or "because I don't feel safe riding on city streets."

Why not just start the conversation on a positive note? Lets take a cue from the enormously successful fields of sales and marketing, and lead in with a few pre-emptive suggestions like these:
  • Here's how to fix a flat...
  • Riding in the city, or with auto-traffic, can be safe and enjoyable. Here are some tips...
  • Do you dread getting in the car on the weekend? This week, try doing one errand on your bike. Plan ahead, make sure your bike is in good shape and you have a lock. A helmet can be useful too, but only if you crash ;-).
  • If you're feeling really adventuresome, break out a map and plan a route for Bike to Work Day. It's May 16th this year, if you live in the DC area.
So there you go, that's the word. If you read this, and you actually do live in the DC area, and want help using a bicycle to commute or do errands, get in touch, or check out The Practical Cyclist's other website, which still needs a lot of work.
Or try the Bike Commuter Tips blog, by Paul Dorn, or the Bike Now page at C.I.C.L.E.
Just in case you're wondering, my score on the quiz was pretty good, and is not the source of my critical attitude. While I'm at it, let me just give the Sierra Club kudos for their efforts. The fact is, human beings are too complicated to exist without a few hypocrisies. Props also to Gordon Inkeles, who keeps The Social Biking Blog, and noticed the Sierra Club quiz.

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