There's been an interesting discussion lately over on the commuter board at MTBR about what makes one a commuter.
This has gotten me thinking a bit about commuting and how bike commuter isn't the best term for what I do. Yes, 90% of my riding is standard commuting - to and from work. But I also use the bike for transportation of other sorts. Maybe another 3 or 4% of my riding is doing things like running to the store to pick up ingredients for dinner or what have you.
Then there is the remaining of my riding, which is recreational. Generally, though, I use the bike for transportation to the trailhead before I begin recreating.
Then I got to thinking that maybe we just like to define things too much anymore? Everything, action, activity, thought, concept, approach has to have a name, a taxonomy. We no longer ride our bikes. We commute. We ride trail. We ride road. We are roadies. We are Freds. We don't walk. We hike. We trek.
If we don't have a name for some activity, how can the manufacturers market gear for that activity to us? That seems to be the heart of things - the ability to be marketed to. We have to categorize everything in order to be a valid market segment.
On Saturday night I rode my bike to Walmart to return a Redbox movie and pick up a few odds and ends. That was clearly not a commute. It was a fun ride, but not really a recreation ride. So what was it? Does it matter?
I'm always trying to get past this strange need to categorize myself and the things I do. Instead, I just want to ride my bike.
But in order to advocate for the bike as viable transport, it is necessary to call myself something, I guess. So I'll be a bike commuter in order to push forward the agenda.
One way I'm working to push forward the agenda is by creating a starting point plan for my company to make alternate forms of transportation more appealing to our employees. To support this plan, I've enlisted the help of a GIS specialist to make me some maps that show where our client's offices are in relation to our office to show that if the company provided some loaner bikes, we could likely get folks out there and riding when going to many of our client sites.
I think the next step is to generate a map with all of our employee's home locations on it so that we can see where they live in relation to the office and use that as a way to generate customer travel plans for those who wish to give bike commuting a try.
I'm excited by this and once I have had a chance to share the plan with my employer, I'll share it with you.