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[Photo: Kelly Hagen]
[Photo: Kelly Hagen]

NDistinct Chatter: Bike to Work Today

Kelly Hagen
 May 20, 2022
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Every day is special.

No, literally. Search the Google webs for “calendar of special days,” and you find out all sorts of things about the days we’re all living through. Today (or what will be today since I wrote this ahead of time because I’m a wizard of forethought), May 20, is simultaneously National Rescue Dog Day, National Pizza Party Day and National Pick Strawberries Day.

Go rescue a dog with strawberries in your pocket, freshly picked, and throw your new dog a pizza party, I guess.

Today is also National Bike to Work Day, and that’s the National Day I’d like to talk to you all about today. As it happens, NBtWD is the culmination of Bike to Work Week, which started May 16 and I must have missed the memo on when Bike to Work Day became Bike to Work Week. That’s a lot of pressure.

Writing this column is kind of like work, but it’s work I only do once per week, from a spare room in the basement of my house, so biking to this work would mean riding a bike down the stairs. I mean, I’ll do it, but I don’t know what benefit I’ll receive from it other than breaking some bones or this beautiful face of mine.

I do have a full-time job outside of writing this column, though, and an office that’s approximately six miles from my house. And, because there were some nice days earlier this week, I happened to be celebrating Bike to Work Week without even knowing it. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, I rode 12 miles round-trip, to and from work. And by Thursday (today, if you’re the one person writing this column; yesterday, if you’re the one person reading it), my legs were Jell-O and I drove to and fro. But I felt deep shame about it, if that’s any consolation.

Also, it’s raining in Bismarck. Motor vehicles feature considerably more roofs than bicycles do. They should promote that advantage in their marketing materials, if that’s not already happening.

Like I said, though, I was just biking to work this week for the sake of biking to work and wasn’t aware that this was a special week for doing that. I must not have been the only one in town unaware of Bike to Work Week, though. Didn’t see a lot of other bicyclists on the work paths with me. Which is fine. I come to praise you, not to guilt you.

Bike lanes are quite thin, and I’m concerned enough about motor vehicles passing me and (hopefully) not killing me their rearview mirrors to the back of my helmeted head. Last thing I need is packs of fellow bike commuters competing for space with me in those same lanes. Like fellow cyclist Pee Wee Herman, “I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel.”

A rebel with a bright blue helmet on my dome and a bell I ring when I want people to see me. But still, a rebel all the same.

A study from the University of Glasgow in 2017 found that riding a bike to work instead of taking “a non-active commute” was associated with a 45% lower chance of getting cancer and 46% lower risk of developing heart disease. I couldn’t find any studies on the increase chance of spinning out on a puddle while descending a hill and scraping up half your limbs and/or your beautiful face. Or what about monkeypox? Does it increase or decrease your risk of catching that one?

If I haven’t convinced you to try biking to work yet, here’s this: gas prices. They’re high now, if you haven’t noticed. Riding your bike is free. Do that.

So, if you’re the one person reading what I had to write and there’s still some National Bike to Work Day/Week left to celebrate, go get on your Schwinn and pedal ’til you get to your place of employment. You’ll save money, decrease your chances of getting cancer, heart disease and (possibly) monkeypox, and you’ll feel special doing it. Happy day.

kelly.hagen@mydakotan.com

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