Riding bikes is awesome, and riding bikes with buds is even better! In the spirit of National Bike Month, it's the perfect time to get your friends out of their cars and out on two wheels. In today's post we'll talk about bike trains and how to commute with a crew in your city!
What's a Bike Train?
A bike train is a little like a carpool, except everyone brings their own ride. There's safety in numbers on the road. Riding in a group makes it easier for cars to see you, discourages dangerous passes (because there's no room to try to "squeak by"), and gives you more "eyes" to call out hazards and avoid dangerous situations.
In your average bike train, riders will meet up at a pre-agreed spot and then all roll out together (typically to school, work, or public events like voting, CicLAvias, etc...). They work wonderfully for schools (because you've got a big chunk of people all going to the same place) and in cities that have clustered business districts (because you can typically find others that "share" your commute, at least within a mile or two).
So how do you find your local bike trains? The easiest thing to do is Google "Bike Train [Your City] or [Your School]"! That should turn up any existing groups/routes and joining up should be as easy as getting yourself to the meet point!
If you strike out there, check your local facebook riding groups and do a search for "bike train". You can always also make a post asking if any are already set up in town and the odds are, if one's not already running, you'll find a lot of people willing to join up!
Which brings us to starting your own...
Start Your Own
Starting your own bike train is way easier than you'd think, the most important bits are communication and consistency. Pick a meeting point somewhere that seems like a nice central location. Anything on a bike lane, path, or wherever you typically spy other riders is a safe bet (the fewer people that have to go "out of their way" to join up, the better chance you have of fielding a big group).
Once your meeting point is selected, make a post in your local ride groups saying that you're setting up a bike train. List the date, time, and the location/destination of the first meet up. Then just be sure to be there!
To begin, consider making it one day per week to cut down on people giving themselves the "I'll join up tomorrow" excuse. Once you've got a regular crew attending one day a week you can expand to multiple days. The upside to waiting until you have a semi-regular crew is that you'll have other "leaders" who know the route, routine, and will still be there to keep everything rolling if you have a sick day or a family emergency.
And that's it! You're the proud founder of a brand new bike train, and you'll be surprised just how many people show up to ride when they know they've got the support of a squad.
Don't forget to check when your local Bike to Work Day is this month because it's a great day to find existing bike trains and a perfect chance to start your own with lots of people making their first two-wheeled commute.
Choo choo. We'll see you out there.