I don’t normally use my blog to support activist campaigns, but since Bike Hour was my own amazing idea, I’ll make an exception. Bike Hour is coming folks! Sept 22, between 6 and 7 pm, wherever you happen to be, on your bike. For one rider last time, it looked like this:
Had this marvellous event been the brainchild of some moneygrubbing, egotistical power monger, it could never have gained the traction it has. How lucky we are that Bike Hour was the brainchild or one not wanting for money or fame, but a humble, unusually good looking servant of cycling, seeking only a better world for our children. Not all of our children. Let’s face it, most of the worlds children will grow up to love cars and fast food. It is for those kiddies with an inborn predisposition to bicycle transport that we offer our labours.
Now consider all the press we got last time! This interview on local radio, a story in The Malta Independent Online, a bit in The Star in Toronto in Canada, and an interview on Ride Time commercial radio station 610CKTB in Canada. And that’s not counting the online media that people actually read! As this reliable mainstream media source wishfully states, Bike Hour went viral!
Bike Hour is an hour of observance, between 6 and 7pm (your time) on the two equinox dates of the year. It is an hour when anyone who owns a functioning bike (and survey data tells us, that is just about everyone) simply gets on the darn thing and goes for a ride. You can ride with a group if you like, though most people ride on their own or with a partner. You may like to muster or have drinks with fellow Bike Hour observers after the ride, or you may prefer to head home and have dinner. You don’t have to, but you might like to promote Bike Hour via your website or organisation, or be a champion of Bike Hour in your country or region. Give interviews to your local media, or refer them to me (@behoovingmoving) if you are shy.
When Bike Hour first happened last March, it was a runaway success—at least for those who learned at short notice of its existence. People used the facebook page to share photos of themselves just out on their bikes, in Malta, the US, Singapore, Poland, Canada and of course my country, Australia. Those countries were the main hotspots, thanks to the efforts of individuals who spread the word among their own networks. All of us who played a part, are realistically hopeful of expodential growth in the next year or two, until just maybe Bike Hour yields some measurable impacts. And what might those impacts be?
The idea of Bike Hour is to remind politicians, non cyclists, and especially ourselves, of the locked up potential of bicycle transport and leisure. In my country (Australia) there are 1.6 bikes per household, hardly any of them regularly used. To put that another way, there is a 5 billion dollar transport asset, in a country of just 20 million people, gathering cobwebs because governments haven’t matched their citizens’ private investment with safe cycling infrastructure, lower speed limits, and smarter laws. That’s all we need.
Most urban areas (with the exception of medieval quarters in Europe) are too spread out for people to rely solely on walking. Public transport gives lonely men their nearest look at beautiful women, but otherwise doesn’t bring anyone joy. Cars make us poor, with less time in our days, less years in our lives, and far less cash in our wallets. Bikes, of all types, and now even electric assist bikes, give back to people, where other modes of transport just seem to take. We know that. That’s why we bought bikes.
I doubt though that you bought a bike to nude up and paint peace signs on your bum, or lead the peloton over the alps, or be a part of anyone else’s plans. Cycling is as personal to you as your shoes. And that has been the success of Bike Hour. It is simply an hour of observance, to observe in whatever manner suits you, with the passive aim of letting people know you have a bike, and would ride it more if that wasn’t so tricky or dangerous. You might ride a cheap bike to the shops for your milk, ride for leisure in parks, ride to work, ride for sport… you really can do as many things with a bike as you can do in shoes.
So what do you do now? Well, drop a note in your diary to remind yourself to be on your bike between 6 and 7 pm (your time) on the forthcoming equinox, which is Saturday the 22nd of September. That’s all.
If you like you can download and distribute the posters, kindly provided once more by Michael Newton. Hey, he’s even done some in Polish! Use your blog, or Facebook, or twitter, or mainstream media, to promote the idea. Keep in mind, there is no photo-op here for your newspaper or TV station. When anyone asks me now how many people do Bike Hour, I ask how many people face Mecca. There is no head count. No measure of success. As far as I know, only one in ten people who RSVP to the Facebook event page, exercise anything more than their mouse.
So those are my thoughts 7 weeks out from Bike Hour the Second. Personally, I’m looking forward to some kind of meet up after the ride, with a few fellow riders in my new home town of Launceston, Tasmania.