Thursday, August 14, 2008

The conversation begins

Something I've not commented on here but which deserves some mention is the fact that my commuting to work via bicycle has been the subject of many conversations involving not only me and my colleagues but also, I've learned, among my colleagues when I'm not around. They have questions about my route and whether I've had trouble with motorists; they mention that they've been dusting off their own bicycles and thinking about them as a way to get some exercise. I can only assume that those of you reading this who are also commuting to work have had similar conversations. This is all to the good, especially in a town like ours with a, shall we say, nascent cycling culture.

But I've also learned a bit anecdotally, here and there, about cycling's past here in Wichita. My colleague Larry the Movie Guy for some reason told me yesterday that when he worked for Cessna (about 20 years ago) "a few" of his co-workers cycled to work--"and one guy even ran to work!"

Our numbers are growing: I learned yesterday while I was out at McConnell that some students have asked about base regulations governing cycling onto the base. Some are choosing to cycle because of fuel costs; others have some problem or other with their cars' documentation (expired/no insurance?) that won't permit them to bring their cars on base. But no matter. The regulations for bikes are minimal; moreover, the base, as I've mentioned before, may be the bike-friendliest place in Wichita. Also, our building has a small bike rack by the entrance. While I don't expect to see it filled to overflowing any time soon, it'll be nice for my Fuji to have some company this coming semester.

As I was leaving our Rock Road office with my bike yesterday, a woman waiting to enroll said, "That there is the best transportation you can have."

So how about you other bike-commuters? Are you having these conversations as well?

9 comments:

R. Sherman said...

My god, you're becoming a movement!

Cheers.

Todd said...

I'm having very similar conversations. A number of my coworkers are jealous that I live close enough to ride. I did notice another bike at our office this morning, so maybe my riding is having an effect?

John B. said...

Randall,
Bow and scrape. Don't look at me with the naked eye.

Todd,
I'm glad to hear it. It does make me wonder, though, how far away your co-workers live. You can tell them that my commute is 10 miles one way; maybe that will inspire them.

Cordelia said...

Someone's done some early morning posting... I've been up to nocturnal new thoughts as well, and invite you to stop by. I am looking for other academics who blog about biking, and this blog so far constitutes half of my findings. Ten miles one way ? I am impressed. How go the mundane aspects mentioned on other bike commuter blogs ? To wit: heat, sweat, attire, and the like ?

coppercorn said...

I used to bike commute but am now too lazy so ride a little scooter instead. My co-workers still have those conversations about me... although one has taken to occasionally riding his bicycle to work (9 miles each way.)

My daughter was the envy of her 2nd grade class last year because my husband regularly takes her to/from school on the bike. Not just any bike, but a tandem with stoker kit (my daugter rides that) attached to trail-a-bike (my new kindergarten son rides that) attached to Burley trailer (my two-year-old rides in that.) They rode in today so I expect two news classes will be suitable jealous.

We moved here five years ago from Southern California where, although people still thought we were crazy for bike-commuting, craziness is regarded as a valid lifestyle choice.

Tom said...

From what I understand the air force will pay a stipend to bicyclists.

John B. said...

Coppercorn and Tom, thanks for coming by and commenting.

Coppercorn, I'm seriously impressed with the outfit you describe your husband and kids as riding. You need some pinwheels attached to it now, like I saw a couple of weeks ago on a bike and trailer-bike on the river path.

Tom, I'm a civilian--I just teach on the base--so I don't know about stipends for AF people. I would hope, though, that the military in some form or fashion would encourage their personnel to cycle to work.

John B. said...

Cordelia,
I forgot to answer your questions.
The sweat and attire stuff: I sweat. Profusely. It's one of those things I happen to be very very good at. Especially once teaching starts up again for me, I will have to do something about clothes for work. One of the good things about starting this commuting thing while I'm on sabbatical is that I have lots of time to experiment with solutions. What I've been doing for now is bringing an extra T-shirt with me to change in to when I get to the base. That has worked out pretty well. As for the heat, not too long ago we had a stretch of not quite a week with temperatures over 100 degrees and high humidity besides. As much as I wanted to ride, I just said No. The past three days, though, it's barely hit 80 for highs--very unusual for us this time of year. But--I sweat, no matter how cool the weather. So, I take water for the ride and a bottle of Gatorade for when I get to work.

Tom said...

John- check out http://www.navy.mil/navydata/transportation/alnav038-01.txt
I'm not sure what this means for the airforce ut apparently the marines implement it (see http://bikecommutetips.blogspot.com/2008/07/marine-corps-looks-to-bicycles.html) btw I used to live in Wichita. I lived about 1-2 miles from the base there on McDowell Drive. But that was in the early 1990's.