Truth in advertising: it has been too many years since I biked to work. In the ever ancient past, I lived within a few blocks and then a few miles of my job. Years on end, the majority of commutes were on two feet or two wheels. Not so close anymore, some bad roads, and other demands mean that commuting is a mix of public transit, carpooling, and that solo drive (total driving under 7000 miles/year ...). (Okay, bike doesn't get me to work even though it handles a decent share of that 'oops, no milk for cereal, bike to the store ...). Thus, a bit cheeky of me to remind that 15 May is "Bike to Work Day" ... that May is Bike to Work Month.
"Get on your bike and try it a little ..."
Now, for DC-area residents, if 15 May is "Bike to Work Day", 13 May is "Bike to Swiss Embassy Eve" as the Swiss Embassy is holding a Bike-to-Work forum & reception featuring some top-notch speakers from Switzerland and the United States.
It isn't just the Danes who are bike-friendly. The Swiss have made some real strides forward in fostering a more bike-friendly environment [pdf], including integrating bicycle infrastructure into other transport options. After building an underground, 1600 spot bike lot beneath the train station, Basel, Switzerland, has seen a 60 percent increase in biking to the train station. In Switzerland, about 9 percent of commuting is by bike compared to .4% in the United States. (The US has 88 percent of people commuting by car as compared to 58 percent in Switzerland.) Biking is part of the national culture, now. Biking skills education for fourth and fifth graders is part of the compulsory educational program nationwide. Zurich, for example, has a 319-mile network of bike paths scheduled for completion this year, trains immigrants about bikes, provides bikes for government employees for work use, and has begun Züri Rollt, a version of free bicycle availability for use within the city.
Bike-to-Work Day (even biking every day) isn't a Silver Bullet solution to the world's problems, but reality is that biking is the most efficient -- in terms of energy use -- transport option that we have.
Especially is with "Idaho Stop" laws ...
Building a Bicycle-Friendly World
As a completely emission-free form of transportation, bicycling is one of the simplest ways to reduce our carbon footprint and make our communities more livable. Yet, to make bicycling feasible requires specific infrastructure, financing, and a commitment of political and public will. Please join Swiss and American experts from government and the private sector to discuss strategies for making our cities and nations more bicycle friendly.
Panel presentation will be followed by audience Q & A and discussion:
Wednesday, May 13, 2009,
4:30 p.m. (Doors Open/Bicycling Exhibit)
5:00- 6:30 p.m.(Expert Panel & Discussion)
Reception to follow at Ambassador’s residence
* Elmar Ledergerber—Mayor of Zurich, Switzerland
Consistently voted "Word’s Most Liveable City," Zurich has a proactive bicycle plan overseen by Ledergerber, its "Bicycling Mayor."
* Tommy Wells—Councilmember, Washington, D.C.
A long-time advocate of green transportation, Mr. Wells sits on D.C.’s committees on Public Works & Transportation and Government Operations & The Environment
* Michelle Kranz—Manager, Media Relations, Switzerland Tourism
Switzerland Tourism is a partner in Switzerland’s national network of bicycle trails, created by a unique public-private cooperation.
* Thomas Gotshi, Ph.D.—Director of Research, Rails-To-Trails Conservancy
Dr. Gotschi authored the report "Active Transportation for America," which quantifies the nationwide benefits from walking and bicycling.
* Michael Jackson, (Moderator)—Director of Bicycle and Pedestrian Access, Maryland Department of Transportation
* Congressman Earl Blumenauer—(D, OR)
Congressman Blumenauer was instrumental in forming the Congressional Task Force on Livable Communities and the bipartisan Bicycle Caucus.
Embassy of Switzerland
2900 Cathedral Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Now, there are some serious bike commuters among the DKos community ... advice, stories, etc welcome.