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How Can We Make Bike Commuting “Normal”?

Lots of blogs around the Streetsblog Network are tackling issues related to bike commuting this week in honor of the upcoming Bike to Work Day on Friday. Baltimore Spokes weighs in with a post about how employers can tailor workplaces to encourage employees to ride in. Here are a few of their ideas:

20090511_bike_450.jpgInside the very popular bike room at the Environmental Protection Agency's DC office. Photo by Eric Vance.

Be Accessible: Most folks aren't going to want to hop on I-66 to wheel their way in. So, companies in neighborhoods near multi-use jogging and cycling trials -- like Bethesda, which is close to the Capital Crescent — are more likely to lure two-wheelers. Second best are offices near roads with bike lanes (or little traffic).

Keep it Clean: [One company] chose its location specifically for its shower facilities. In buildings without them, it's smart to negotiate a group discount at a nearby fitness center. Otherwise, the only real option for riders is a rubdown with wet wipes.

Provide Safe Parking: Outdoor bike racks are fine for cheaper wheels you won't worry about getting damaged or stolen. But riders generally feel safer with more secure storage.

Build a Community: "If people feel like they're alone out there doing this, it's not worth doing," says Angela Atwood-Moore, a research associate at the National Institutes of Health. As the president of the NIH Bicycle Commuter Club, she's been instrumental in keeping the Bethesda campus' 600 bike commuters informed through a Web site and an e-mail list (to which 300 riders subscribe).

Show Us the Money: It also can't hurt to offer financial incentives for ditching driving. Employers can institute the recently adopted monthly $20 tax rebate for cyclists, or go further.

Meanwhile, M-Bike.org in Detroit wants to project a different image of bike commuters. Like, they want them to look normal:

But if Metro Detroit has any hope of increasing the number of people biking to work, we need to make it look normal, starting by showing bike commuters in normal clothes.

Blue jeans. Khakis. Collared shirts. Perhaps a suit on occasion.

Biking to work doesn’t mean one must dress like Lance Armstrong. We need to show people that ride bikes to work, not cyclists that ride to work.

What are your suggestions for helping to make bike commuting a "normal" choice?

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