Somehow I stumbled upon this plot to get people to ride their bikes for 30 days in April. It all got started by a couple of bike fanatics in Minnesota who decided to use the social network power of twitter to convince people to use pedal power as their prime source of getting around.
I pledged to ride and have had moderate success keeping up on a daily basis but I was curious about this site 30daysofbiking.com and wanted to learn more.
I contacted the organizers, Patrick Stephenson and Zach Schaap and asked them what inspired this project and how has it been going. Here is my Q and A with Patrick along with pictures from one of the group rides that recently happened in the twin cities.
Name, age and where you live. My name is Patrick Stephenson. I’m 27-years-old and I live in Saint Paul, MN, four blocks away from John Dillinger’s former Lexington Estates hide-out. I once biked the alleyway he escaped the feds down and felt Dillinger’s spirit pass through me. True story.
What bike(s) do you own. My primary bike is my single-speed Surly Steamroller, the ninja-black edition with skinny blue Conties. No bike matters before this one, but I also have a Schwinn Traveler III, a mountain bike, another single speed, and a junker POS I hide in the garage.
What will be your next bike purchase? I haven’t given this much thought, because I’m very happy with my Surly. I’d like to buy a frame and build a bike of my own for the first time in my life. I want the marrow-deep connection to my bike my friend, and #30daysofbiking co-creator, @zachamon has to his Schwinn Beesh. Right now, the connection is only bone-surface-deep.
How often do you ride? To commute, play, exercise? I ride my bike every friggin’ day. My commute is almost 18 miles, and lately I’ve been riding 150-200 miles a week. All of this is to play and exercise, and just to get around. I think of it as a vehicle, now, a tool as well as a toy. The bike has become an extension of self.
What’s it like biking where you live? Awesome! Bicycling magazine just rated Minneapolis/St. Paul the #1 city for biking for a reason, and the Cities have pledged another $25 million to bike paths and bike-friendly streets. There are plenty of viable commuting routes between St. Paul and Minneapolis, for instance. I could choose a different one every morning depending on how I’m feeling. Do I feel like biking with rush-hour traffic? Do I want massive hills and views of the Mississippi River? Do I want to bike the Midtown Greenway, paralleling railroad track in an old gorge beside Lake St.? I could even take the potholed University Ave., but I never do.
The drivers are pretty good. You get the occasional asshole SUV driver who bears down from behind and honks his horn, then drives past dangerously close. Mostly, though, people wait for you to cross; they even wave you across.
What’s the bike culture like? It’s amazing here. Minnesotan cyclists are some of the friendliest and most helpful you’ll find. I get asked if I’m all right if I’m standing on the side of the path on my cellphone. They’re always willing to offer a tool or a part. There are billions of stores around here, from Angry Catfish, the new coffee/bike bar on 42nd and 28th Ave., to Cars R Coffins, One on One, Freewheel, The Hub, and others; most offer a place to hang out and drink locally made coffee, like Peace Coffee, in addition to a place for bike stuff.
Events-wise, Critical Mass meets every month, in the parkâ€”Loring Parkâ€”right outside my employer. I’ve never been. I’ve heard they get beaten up and gassed by the cops, undesirable for the sake of bike advocacy even for a bike advocate like me. Bike polo games are currently every Thursday in McRae park. There are some awesome rides, like the Grand Rounds, a 50-mile ride that takes you all around Minneapolis’ beauty sights. @zachamon and I and some others biked that in the rain a few nights ago. Some friends and I are doing the Minnesota Ironman later this month; it offers 30-, 65-, and 100-mile options. We opted for the century.
What inspired 30 days? We love bikes! We also happen to love social media, like Twitter. #30daysofbiking brings the both of them together into this perfect, lightning-in-a-bottle mix, allowing people from around the world to talk about their biking adventures as they either (1) encourage themselves to bike every day, or (2) force themselves to bike at all. People are commuting to work for the first time because of us. After not having ridden a bike for 13 years, a girl in our challenge used it as an excuse to commute home from work, 10 miles, for the first time. She threw up for 10 minutes when she got home and biked again the next day.
Basically, we wanted to get peopleâ€”and ourselvesâ€”biking as much as possible, and we’ve succeeded.
How did it spread? WOM, Word of Mouth, most of it through Twitter. Since I joined Twitter in 2007, it has been endlessly amazing to me as a device for getting people together and celebrating what you love. @zachamon and I have tried to start memes on Twitter before. All of them failed, or succeeded to a very small degree. We haven’t had to do much work in promoting #30daysofbiking at all. It’s like hundreds of people were waiting for a push to bike, and then tweet about biking, and all this has done is give them that push. It’s been immensely viral.
We have bikers in China, in Korea, in France, in England, in Indonesia, in Australia, and in tons of other places. I haven’t kept a record. I’m continually surprised by how far this has reached.
How has it been going so far? Amazingly. People fill up the stream with #30daysofbiking tweets on a daily basisâ€”hundred a day, bunches every hour. Our site had almost 1,000 hits on the very first day and it’s been exploding ever since. The proudest accomplishment of this, for me, is that it inspired my dad, who is 58-years-old, to bike to work for the first time this morning. He left me a voicemail, “Hi, I rode my bicycle to work! Bye.” It’s giving people a reason to ride with their families. Family-time shit, away from the TV and the computer and the fkn iPods. It’s a push to get out and do something, like eat at a restaurant or see a show, when you would’ve stayed homeâ€”because you need to get those miles in.
It’s also a way to meet people. The #bikegangride we set up last week had almost 40 people attend. Seeing 40 people bike around Minneapolis’ Lake Calhoun, in a huge cohesive group, and knowing you’re a part of that is… great.
How many people are signed up so far? Almost 400.
Future plans to develop 30 days? Zach and I don’t know how to think that far ahead. We live in the moment. The moment right now is #30daysofbiking. We’ll figure out what’s next afterward.
Future cycling goals? Finish the Ironman century without pooping my pants. Talk about #30daysofbiking on live television tomorrow without exploding into a sweaty, nervous-wreck bubble.
I’m not going to miss a day of #30daysofbiking, I guarantee it.
Anything you’d wished I’d asked you? Here is the origin story I wrote up for someone else: A Twitterer named @lizbastian came up with #30daysofyoga, and I proposed a biking alternativeâ€”#30daysofbikingâ€”to begin April 1. People, including the original group of cyclists we assembled for our St. Patrick’s Eve bike gang rideâ€”latched onto it immediately. I compiled an information brief and distributed it through Twitter, then a friend of mine and Zach’s set up 30daysofbiking.com. It EXPLODED from there. 24 hours later we had more than a hundred people signed up and we were working on getting sponsors for the party we’re hosting at month’s end. The website has turned into this mini biking mecca where we can post photos and video, philosophize about biking, and have people explain why they’ve signed up, whether to lose weight or face a fear of biking in traffic. All of this happened because of Twitter, and all of it happened within the last five days.
For more info on all this, visit their site: 30daysofbiking.com
You still have about 15 days to play along. Join the twitter feed and follow along.
Listen to a on air radio interview with Minnesota public radio, here.
100 years of baseball history in 10 miles and 3 hours! Whether you live in Brooklyn or not, most baseball fans know about the great Brooklyn Dodger teams of the 1950s. You’ve probably heard about Jackie Robinson and the color barrier, the magic of Ebbets Field, or the meteoric rise of Brooklyn’s own Sandy Koufax. This bike tour takes you from the roots of Civil War era “base ball” to the exit of the Dodgers in 1957… all while rolling along one of the finest circuits of urban bike paths in the country.
Meet in Brooklyn in front of Ride Brooklyn bike shop, 468 Bergen Street (bike rentals available). Trains: 2/3 to Bergen; 4/5/6/D/N/R/M/LIRR to Atlantic-Pacific
Weâ€™re doing a promotion on Saturday, April 24th around Washington Square Park which will require around 50-60 bike riders to work that day. It will be a 7 hour day, with only 4 hours worth of actual work. The pay is $120/person plus lunch. We need people who are riding fixed gear or single speed bikes for the most part. I was wondering if any of your readers might be interested in picking up a little extra cash?? They would be helping promote a new restaurant opening in the area. But it will be a fun day and itâ€™s easy money.
Check the flyer:
April 11th, 2010 | Category: Ads | 3 comments - (Comments are closed)
YOU are invited: On April 15, you will have finished your taxes, so treat yourself to a beer and pick yourself up a nice, new Crumpler bag. Showcase your financial savvy by paying only $15 for entry and enjoying free beer and an amazing 30% discount off of Crumpler merchandise while supplies last! Learn more about TEAM T.A. and meet the team members and coaches. All proceeds support TEAM T.A., a group of riders who are training for the NYC Century Bike Tour and supporting Transportation Alternativesâ€™ advocacy work all over New York City. Invite your friends! Plan your ride over there using Ride the City on BikingRules.org: http://bikingrules.org/ridethecity
Time: 7pm – 8:30pm
Location: Crumpler, 49 8th Avenue, New York, NY 100014
Event link: http://transalt.org/events/calendar/4420
127 W.26th Street, Suite 1002
New York, NY 10001
Fax: 212-629-8334 transalt.org