Monday, April 27, 2009

Cycling into the Sunset...

I'm probably a little off the back with the timing of this post...but I'm probably the only cyclist who also reads Sunset Magazine from time to time, too. Last night, I was thumbing through the March issue (yes, a little late hence the apology at the start for poor timing) and picture of a bunch of people riding bikes with baskets down the street stopped me from turning the page. Not only was it a picture of people on bikes, it was an entire article devoted to commuting by bicycle entitled "Reinvent Your Wheels" with a byline that read "Reach for the handlebars instead of your car keys. Here's how you can smoothly roll into the new two-wheeled lifestyle".

This article does a fantastic job at showing just how easy and fun getting out on a bike can be and gives readers the resources to get started. The article has a brief bike buyer's guide as well as some suggestions about what bags and baskets are suited best for hauling your stuff in. There are also some short stories from real-world people about why they have chosen to ride their bikes instead of drive their cars.

My favorite quote was from an architect in San Francisco who sold his car 9 years ago in favor of riding one of his 12 bikes back and forth to work. Sunset asks, "How do you manage to look so put together when you've commuted to work by bike?" The architect answered, "I have two Dutch bikes--they are what I ride around the city because they are very dignified. The 'Old Dutch' Batavus has a fender, a chain case, and a guard so you don't get your pants or scarf caught in things. The Dutch want to wear regular clothes when they cycle, and so do I".

The very last sentence is the best part because I think it sums up why more people don't commute by bicycle. Many people envision "taking a bike ride" as this complex activity that requires special clothing, equipment, and might even involve loading up bikes in a car to drive them to a destination. Think about it...isn't that what most of us do when we go for a ride? Isn't that the perception many people might get when they go to their local bike shop and see all the related gear dripping from the walls of the shop?

What was so refreshing about this article was is was simple. It painted a picture about how simple taking a bike ride can be. It didn't tell you what kind of shoes you needed to buy to look cool on the bike path or what tire pressure you should run for optimal performance. It was more of an editorial suggestion about how cycling can improve your health, help the environment, and put a smile on your face.

Kudos to Sunset Magazine for devoting space to an article such as this one. We need more articles just like this one to appear in other non-endemic publications to encourage people to get out and ride a bike.

Unfortunately, Sunset does not have this article available online to read, but they do have the bike and bag buyer's guide that appeared in the print article on their website. I'll see if I can get the article scanned and posted here for everyone to see.

(In case anyone was wondering, Sunset Magazine has a readership of about one million people. That's a huge!)