Several weeks ago (before the family was struck down with H1N1) I was pleasantly surprised during my commute into work. Merging ahead of me was a bicycle with a decidedly “up right” riding style and full fenders. I put on the “gas” to catch up and get a closer look. As I neared the rider I was able to identify his bike as a Workcycle Bakfiet. I also recognized the man in the saddle! Roughly one year ago, the same rider, Paul, caught up to me and quized me about my own ride. At that time Paul was riding a road bike, was wearing a helmet and reflective vest, and had an odd car battery contraption powering massive headlights and a powerful horn. He was quite the site and not at all tuned into my own particular biking zen. Still, we chatted several times when our paths crossed on our way into downtown Minneapolis. After all, all bikers are brothers and sisters.
Now here he was again, riding a Bakfiet, without a helmet and with a big smile on his face. He recognized me and proudly proclaimed “I just can’t put this bike down. I’ve lost 7 pounds since I started riding it! You inspired me to get a Dutch bike.” We rode side-by-side for several blocks, chatting about the virtues of practical bikes.
Not only was I glad to have sent some business Stephan’s way at Dutch Bike Chicago, but I also feel proud to have “converted” a biker into a better cycling advocate. I’ve always maintained that neon-orange clad combat bikers are awful advertising for everyday biking. Paul’s new approach will hopefully breed more casual and relaxed bikers. Welcome to the fold, Paul!