How to Encourage Your Fellow Citizens to Bike to Work





Introduction: How to Encourage Your Fellow Citizens to Bike to Work

May 15 is Bike to Work Day in San Francisco. Biking to work is great on most days, but Bike to Work Day is special because the San Francisco Bike Coalition encourages people to try biking to work with Energizer stations all over the city that reward bikers with small gifts and treats.

I wanted to volunteer at one of these stations, but I was sick during the training sessions so that was out of the question. Since our new office is on a major biking route in San Francisco, Folsom St., where half a dozen riders cross with every light I figured we could do something a little special for the riders on our own.

The solution here is to set up a finish line complete with a tape for riders to break through. We had cheerers, medals for winning, and a "mayor" who would hand out medals and pose for pictures with the winners.

Check it out.

Step 1: Make Up a Race and Prizes

Since it's Bike to Work Day we had to have a Bike to Work Race. And what's a race without a medal? These medals were laser-etched and cut out of a few different kinds of acrylic. The mirrored one is my favorite, though.

Step 2: Make Up Some Roles and Cool Name Tags

We needed to have someone give out the medals to the winners and why not invite the mayor? And if the mayor turns you down because you just sent an email to and it bounced, then make your own shiny name tag and let your friends be the mayor for a bit.

Step 3: Get Other Friends to Cheer on the Riders

We found that many people figured that the finish line was for someone else and would swerve around it. We needed to guide them to it and cheer them on in the process. These guys even brought their own crepe paper and turned them into pom-poms. Look at that enthusiasm!

Step 4: Make the Finish Line and Put It All Together

We had a couple pieces of PVC lying around and some scrap canvas that we spray-painted "FINISH" onto. Some rope ties it all together and the two people holding it are also in charge of the finish line tape, which was really just toilet paper.

For quick redeploying of the toilet paper after each winner, simply put the roll of toilet paper over the PVC pipe so that it easily unrolls.

Step 5: Catch the Winners and Give Them the Medals

Once people go through the finish line they can be pretty excited and keep on racing down the street past you. We set up the mayor station about 20 feet after the finish line and shouted at them to stop for their prize. Don't try to explain. Just shouting, "STOP! I have something for you!" seemed to work the best.

Don't forget to pose for pictures.

Step 6: Take Lots More Photos

It's a sunny day and people are surprised with something different. Take plenty of pics to remember it all.

A big thank you to everyone involved, including Noah, Rachel, Billy, Bilal, Paul, Mike, Brian, Benji, Matt, and Paul.



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    I live in Calgary, Alberta. We have oil. Every day, I see pickup after monstrous pickup following parades of SUV's. Each one has one occupant. The driver. Talking on a cell phone. All stuck, unmoving in traffic. Angry. It is sad. I live for my bike(s). I make a living with my bike. I refuse to own a car. Why work to drive to work? The logic is illogical. I tell people, "Just think, never go to a gas station again ('cept to pee). Free parking (in downtown Cowtown parking is more than my rent). No traffic jams. You get to point and laugh. Just ride the damn thing!

    Hey, I ride to work (20 miles round trip) and ride for fun on weekends, but avoid riding to the grocery store or any place where I have to leave my bike unattended (destroyed, stolen). Any tips? Thanks!

    That's awesome! I love hearing that people ride to work! There are a few things that you can do to decrease the risk of some one walking off with your bike: One thing that I'd highly suggest is not riding a flashy bike when you have to leave it locked up. (most thieves know little about bikes, and go for eye candy). I'd recommend buying a 'commuter' bike. If you hunt around (pawn shops, ebay, friends, etc) you can find a decent one for under $300. Short of that, you can "crapify" your bike, with stickers or paint etc (but it's hard to do that to a beautiful bike). The second thing is to properly lock your bike with a GOOD lock. Use a good cable lock (U-locks don't have enough room and can cause damage). Avoid the locks with round keys, they're easy to pick. Lock your bike in a public area, and away from parking cars, doors, driveways and places that people are likely to knock it as they walk by. Always (always, always) lock your bike to something solid (sign, light post, tree, parking meter etc. Unfortunately, most bike racks are crap). Put the lock through the back wheel, and around the seat tube so it locks the wheel and the frame. If you want to, take off the front wheel, seat, and seatpoast clamp, and lock them in there as well, or better yet, take them with you (bikes are harder to ride without a front wheel and seat). If you leave your front wheel on, and if your wheels are the quick release, you can use the bolt on skewers, or use a zip tie to tie the skewer to the fork to keep someone from opening it easily. Take a glance around for shifty lookin dudes (probably best to do before you lock it up). If you're paranoid, and/or leaving it for a long time, you can use two locks.

    You know... I just release my brakes, and use a really skimpy lock... Thinnest lock ever, but when someone tries to ride away, "OMGOMG NO BRAKES ON THIS BIKE AAAHHH A POLE!!!" *Crash*

    (: But seriously, your comment was epic.

    Haha that's a great way for your bike not to get stolen!

    Well, it's not exactly convienient for farther distance things, but I do agree that if you live close to wherever you have to go, it's better to go there (IE, I can ride up to a store near my house that sells milk and some other things, but my mom normally will go to the grocery store, though I haven't really ever considered that too bad, because we can't get much more than milk and candy at that store)

    Although I see where you're coming from, I see not having to spend $1000 a month on a car as being pretty convenient. I see being able to eat what I want to and not getting fat as being pretty convenient. I see the stress relieving qualities of bike riding pretty convenient. Most places in the city can be reached within half an hour, and a large portion of them can be reached without hitting a single red light (even through the heart of the city). Cargo capacity can be increased with a decent backpack, rack, panniers, or B.O.B. trailerB.O.B. trailer (I can carry a weeks worth of groceries).

    I'm a bikeaholic, I admit it.

    How much Would one of those trailers cost. I love biking and I'm actuallt pretty scared of rising gas prices. i love the idea of biking from place to place. Its great exercise and an awesome way to hang out.

    It warms my heart, and restores a little of my faith in humanity to hear people considering bicycles as a viable alternative!! I KNOW that people will be happier when they give it a whirl. I've seen it happen over and over again! Unfortunately, a band new one can be fairly expensive ($200-$450 depending on model, and where you buy). If you keep your eyes open, you can find a good used one for about $100. If you plan on packing on the cargo, or carry heavy things, it is a worthwhile investment as they don't cause the balance anomalies that racks and panniers do, they aren't back breaking like backpacks, and they are nice to your bike. They're remarkably stable, and durable (The trailer of choice for most bike messengers that use trailers). They're expensive to buy, but still faaaaaaar cheaper than cars and gas in the long run.

    so if your looking for a bike..... CRAIGSLIST! this is a great place to get a used bike. bikes need to be tuned up so either learn how to do it yourself, find a neighbor or go the expensive way