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Bike Month? Celebrate The Bike All Year Long!

May 29, 2012

It’s been a pretty nice Bike Month thus far. As we look to the end of May, we start to wonder, how can we keep it going? It’s somewhat easy for a bike shop to be all about bikes, all the time. But how can we encourage everyone to celebrate Bike Month every month? Talking with our friends over at BikeCaffe Austin, they had some thoughts that we’d like to share–guest blogging this week, BikeCaffe’s Jerry Strickland.

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Live in Central Texas long enough and you realize May is a great month. It’s the month that cycling gets to showcase itself on a bigger stage. The pros may have the Giro in May, but us enthusiasts, commuters, and lifestylers–well, we get May to celebrate National Bike Month. It’s a month we celebrate everything great about the almighty crank. We do it through art, through music, through bike safety, through happy hours, and breakfast stations. And while all that celebrating is laudable and exciting, why then do we see bicycle commuting and safety awareness decrease in the months immediately after?

As a community it’s critical we continue to keep the momentum going in every way we can. As a cyclist and small business owner we don’t celebrate National Bike Month once a year. At BikeCaffe Austin we do it EVERY DAY. We do it to showcase a nontraditional approach to business and to transportation. Trust me, owning a coffee trailer pulled by a vehicle looks pretty appealing some days when we’re pedaling a 1,000 pound coffee shop built on a bike uphill, but then we’d be missing the point. We want to be different. We want others to re-think ways they can change their lives to incorporate pedal powered commerce, we want people to realize we can provide the same product as a brick-and-mortar coffee shop, and we want people to look at our bike and to smile. For you, it may not be a calling to open a cycling-related business, it may be to simply commute to work more, to facilitate a more active lifestyle among your family and coworkers, to volunteer at BikeTexas or a similar organization, to take bike safety course even if you think you know all the applicable laws, or to plan a bike rodeo at your child’s school.

Bike to Work? Work is a bike at BikeCaffe Austin!

I’m convinced that as a community we sometimes put so much focus on National Bike Month or Bike-to-Work Day that we miss the point. Find out something you can do now AND next week AND next month to see progress. You don’t have to look far to find inspiration. As we’re serving coffee at 9th and Congress in downtown Austin, we see local businesses using cycling as a way to travel, to transport, and to deliver. Of course there are the bike messengers from Beat the Clock who are longtime stalwarts, but we’re seeing others embrace the concept, too. Just a few weeks ago, we met a coffee tech from Casa Brasil coffee. He was delivering–via Surly and trailer–a commercial coffee brewer and some beans for a law office. A week later, we were impressed that a Whole Foods bicycle delivery trailer pulled up to the building where we’re located–816 Congress–made a food delivery in the driving rain. When asked how he was doing riding in the rain, the driver cheerfully said, “Great…. Better to be riding in the rain, than driving in the heat.” I’m proud to be among the businesses that are embracing that attitude. There may be easier ways to do business, but not better. It’s that commitment, though, that also needs support. Maybe that’s your calling for the post-Bike Month focus–find bike friendly businesses to frequent.

Local businesses embracing the bike as a viable means of doing business.

Let’s face it, if you ride bikes there will likely never come a day when you say, “Wow, I need to cut back on my riding.” Doesn’t matter what kind of bike you ride, or what kind of riding, the reasons are universal. You ride for the feeling it gives you, the benefits you see, the killer farmer’s tan and, most of all, because it’s a part of who you are. The problem is once May is over, we don’t re-think how we can incorporate our bikes into the solutions we all seek. Unfortunately for some, the only thing left from National Bike Month are the few extra pounds “once-a-year bike commuters” gain from eating pastries at five Bike-to-Work stations. Don’t be that cyclist. You owe it to yourself. You owe it to the bike.

Through rain, or sleet, or Austin Summers, Whole Foods delivery by bike makes it happen.

Jerry Strickland is a cycling coach and Chief Espresso Officer of BikeCaffe Austin, a full service coffee shop brewing fair trade, organic coffee at 9th & Congress in downtown Austin. When not working to give Austin it’s best, pedal-powered coffee experience, you can find Jerry riding his road bike with friends or chasing down his two kids on his 50lb cruiser bike equipped with a basket big enough to hold groceries and a few cold beverages. And, yes, full disclosure, Jerry’s wife puts some of the blame for his cycling addiction on Bicycle Sport Shop, because that’s where Jerry got his first road bike and he hasn’t stopped since! Twitter: BikeCaffeAustin :: Facebook: facebook.com/BikeCaffeAustin

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