Minneapolis Bike Week and My Personal Biking Story

Minneapolis Bike Week is here! It’s all about inspiring new people to try biking (or biking more). I hope you can help inspire new bicyclists this week by being a Bike Buddy (& get free goodies!), sharing Bike Week events with your friends, or more (here are 5 easy ways you can help!).

  • Monday, May 11: Fix it Day
    Learn how to fix and tune up your bike while you cycle around town.
  • Tuesday, May 12: Go by Bike Day
    Learn how to pedal instead of drive to your destination.
  • Wednesday, May 13: Nice Ride Day
    Enjoy the City using the bike-share program to get around.
  • Thursday, May 14: Women’s Day
    Focus on women/trans/femme cyclists.
  • Friday, May 15: Bike to Work Day
    Get communing tips and join group rides make biking to work easy and fun.
  • Saturday, May 16: Bike to Small Businesses Day
    Visit local neighborhood businesses on a bike.
  • Sunday, May 17: Family Parks Day
    Get the whole family biking together.

Here are the biggest events:

  • Minneapolis Bike to Work Day (Friday)
    • Morning Rides to a Downtown celebration with Mayor Hodges, City Council Members (7 already confirmed to participate), and County Commissioners
    • Downtown Bike Expo 11:30-1:30 at the Government Center Plaza
    • Post-work Joy Rides and ice cream from Gold Medal Park to all over (you can host your own ride too)
  • Go By Bike Day Commuter Challenge and festivities (Tuesday)
    • 4-5:45pm happenings at Target Field Station
    • “Race” between Council Member Lisa Bender on a bike, Commissioner Marion Greene on transit/bike combo, Star Tribune’s Tim Harlow on transit/walk, and Car2Go driving
    • 5:45-7pm finish line for race and other happenings (including Sea Salt discounts) at Minnehaha Park Pavilion

 

Bike Week is a tool to motivate new people to try biking. But we know it is really about individuals talking one-on-one with friends, family, and co-workers about why you bike and helping them get over their hurdles to biking. At the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition, we’ll be sharing personal biking stories from our staff and Board leaders this week. I hope you will share your story too!

Here’s the story of how I got into biking and why I bike…

The street I grew up

I grew up on a farmstead (the clump of trees in the distance in the picture to the right–Google Street View hasn’t made it down our road yet). We lived on a gravel road. My nearest neighbor was 1/2 mile away. I think I biked to town once before I had my license, but it really didn’t occur to me to bike for transportation. I came down to Minneapolis to go to the U of M in 2000. I came with a car and while I didn’t drive to class (that doesn’t work), I drove basically everywhere other than class. When I went back home for summers, I drove all over again, including delivering pizzas. I really never thought about anything other than driving everywhere.

Then in September 2002, my car engine blew up (somewhat spectacularly on I-35W) and I didn’t have money for a new car (after all, I was struggling to afford the one I had). So, I started biking to off-campus things as well. Literally, within months, my entire mindset changed.

I now can honestly say that my car blowing up was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I’m happier, healthier, wealthier, and more connected to my community because of biking (and walking and transit). I went from being constantly frustrated driving (I have a Type-A personality and hate sitting, especially in traffic) to actually enjoying getting places. I went from spending a lot on transportation and having little for other things to spending very little on transportation and being able to afford to travel, eat out, etc. (I even managed to go to Europe in college on a shoestring).

My personal transformation from auto-dependent to auto-free is what inspires me to do the work I do. I think: how many other people are just like I was–auto-dependent without liking it or even thinking about it? How many other people would be happier, healthier, wealthier if they also could be inspired to try it differently? I realize long trips are hard, but how big a difference would it make in someone’s life if they biked/walked 80% of trips of less than 3 miles?

When I finished grad school and started looking for jobs, I was so settled on my new way of thinking, that I would not look at jobs I couldn’t get to easily without driving. It took me longer to get a full-time job in my field because of that, but it was certainly for the best. (I realize the privilege that I have to be well educated enough to have the luxury to be job picky.) When my wife, Lesley, and I decided we might buy a home, we only looked in places where it was easy to bike, walk, and take transit.

Me with my wife Lesley

Now, Lesley and I certainly have enough money to afford a car or two. But we don’t need it. We don’t want it. In fact, we sold Lesley’s car 18 months ago and it has been easier not owning a car and instead using Car2Go, HOURCar, and car rentals on the occasion we need it. We pay for nearly all of our transportation with the money we get from leasing our parking spot.

I still drive some–when it makes sense (but infrequently enough that I temporarily forgot how to pump gas recently and mistakenly spilled all over). But mostly I bike (I take transit and walk some too). And it really does make sense to bike for nearly all of my trips. And, of course, it makes me feel good that I am helping to support the type of city I really want to live in (like Amsterdam) and reduce my (still too high) impact on the ability for future generations to live comfortably on our earth. Plus, I’m part of the biking community too–I’ve met tons of great people and that inspires me too.

So, I ask you to try biking for at least one trip this week that you would have driven otherwise. If it has been awhile, make it a short one on the weekend. The weather should be nice!

If your bike has been stowed away for awhile, pump up your tires, test your brakes (and bring to a bike shop if they need love or a Commuter Pit Stop), and make sure your chain is reasonably clean (and ideally throw some chain oil on it). Or just try a Nice Ride or other bike share.

Who knows, maybe you’ll realize–like I did–that biking to get places might work for you more than you ever imagined.

 


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4 Responses to Minneapolis Bike Week and My Personal Biking Story

  1. Matt Steele
    Matt Steele May 11, 2015 at 4:51 pm #

    This is great. Thanks for sharing your personal story, and for your work at MBC to pull off Mpls Bike Week.

    • Ethan Fawley May 11, 2015 at 10:45 pm #

      Thanks!

  2. Bill Lindeke
    Bill Lindeke May 13, 2015 at 11:42 am #

    If you pulled up in a crappy Honda and delivered me a pizza, I think I might die on the spot.

    • Ethan Fawley
      Ethan Fawley May 16, 2015 at 4:21 pm #

      Don’t worry, it was a Toyota!