I have a confession to make…
I own a bike sharing company, but I don’t own a bike. In fact, I don’t even consider myself a biker!
Yes, there’s a whole lot of irony in that fact, and maybe even borderline hypocrisy some may even say. But to be truthfully honest, I don’t see it that way.
When we first started weBike, although I certainly was a proponent of biking, I never had any intention of becoming a biker myself. Funnily enough, the main reason I first wanted to implement a bike share on my college’s campus was so I didn’t have to look at the countless overcrowded bike racks (and railings, fences, and signposts) filled with other people’s bikes, and listen to those other people complain about how they could never find a place to lock their bike.
And despite the fact that at that time I did (and still do) consider myself a pretty eco-concious individual, it was probably at least a year after we started working on our original class project before I even got on a bike for the first time since I was a kid.
The reason was the same, I suspect, that many of us don’t bike. There’s a huge mental hurdle to overcome in order to become a “biker.” In addition to the cost of purchasing a bike comes the responsibility of ownership and the risk of theft, which was prevalent at my university. And beyond that, the biking community to me seemed somewhat exclusive and somewhere that I didn’t quite fit in. To be a biker, it seemed, you needed to always have one pant leg rolled up; be able to confidently weave through traffic, scale hills, and brave the elements; and being seen driving a car was tantamount to treason.
I’ll admit, it was easier for me not to become a biker than it was to become one. That being said, I still faced all of the challenges that came with not traveling by bike: paying for gas and parking, walking a mile between classes, waiting for buses, etc. And although intellectually, I understood that biking was a way better form of transportation, the barriers of bike ownership and my resistance to change held me back.
When bike sharing came to DC, I was thrilled. I remember my very first ride from Georgetown to Mt. Vernon and how it completely changed my paradigm. (Those who live in DC know just how much of a pain that trip can ordinarily be!) Knowing the benefits of biking is one thing, experiencing them is entirely something else.
Today, I’m an annual Capital Bikeshare member, and I want everyone, everywhere to also be able to experience the joys and benefits of bike sharing like I do.
I bike share not because I own a bike sharing company. I bike share because it’s faster and cheaper than any other form of transit. I bike share because I can get to places that I couldn’t easily get to before. I bike share because I can bike when it’s most convenient, and drive when it’s not. But most of all, I bike share because every time I get on a bike, it brings a smile to my face.
This is why I am so passionate about weBike. Bike sharing shatters all of the barriers that prevented me from choosing to travel on two wheels before. It gives me all of the benefits of biking with none of the responsibilities or limitations of ownership. And when everyone else in the community rides the same kind of bike as you do, the biking world suddenly feels less like an exclusive club and more like a community we were all meant to be a part of in the first place.