Bikers in Missoula: We love them when we ride with them. We hate them when we don’t.
This spring, the Bicycle Hangar is hosting a new event that may seem a little over the top and is something we at WTFMissoula can’t help but chuckle about: “Walk Your Bike to Work Week.” The idea came up as a joke while local Zach Hughes was at work at the Bicycle Hangar. Apparently, everyone laughed about it until Hughes’ boss realized it would be a great gimmick.
The ridiculous rendition of bicycle enthusiasm started in Palo Alto, California in 2010. It’s possible some did it just so they wouldn’t get sweaty or mess up their makeup before showing up to work, but now the Bicycle Hangar is throwing money at the idea to actually make it happen the first week of May.
“The caveat is that we haven’t told any bike shops or movements about it,” Hughes said. “It’s a giant tongue-in-cheek to everyone.”
It’s not unusual that Missoula wants to see people bike and walk more frequently. As the Bicycle and Pedestrian Office states, it’s more environmentally friendly, improves health and reduces pollution, congestion and parking pressure.
According to the Bicycle and Pedestrian Office, Missoula is ranked as a gold level bike friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists. The Garden City provides ample infrastructure for such green transportation, including bike lanes and river trails, as well as a variety of community events promoting it.
Annual events such as “Winter Bike to Work” day in February and “May in Motion Bike Month” get folks away from their vehicles and onto their two-wheelers. There’s also a Commuter Challenge, Bike to Work Day and Breakfast on the Bridges all put on by Missoula in Motion. And, for those who prefer to (uncomfortably) ride in the nude, there’s a naked public bike ride, “Bare as You Dare.”
For the most part, these events have stemmed from those in metropolitan cities in Oregon and Colorado. For example, in Boulder they celebrate “Bike to Work Day” in June, which has now become a national event.
The Bicycle Hangar’s new event will be an interesting and probably hilarious one. Though Hughes is a fairly sarcastic person, he is getting serious about “Walk Your Bike to Work Week” by writing a satire piece for the Independent to advertise the event, which will be part of Missoula’s two-week Commuter Challenge.
According to Hughes, the Bicycle Hangar will set up a few absurd events and roughly six businesses plan to participate in various giveaways. Prizes haven’t been decided yet, but Hughes said a bike will be in the mix. They’re also doing a bike-walk to a brewery, which will entail free beers for everyone who comes (Praise be to the bike lords!).
It’s hard to say “Walk Your Bike to Work Week” will have much success, since many people may not get the joke. But it does prove how serious Missoula is about cutting down on it’s environmental footprint while also showing how unserious it is about using any excuse to organize a community-oriented event.
So hipsters, get ready: walking your bike to work will actually look cool.