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Ride to Work Day
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ROAD RIDER/October 1992
Postscript: Ride to Work Day, 1992
July 22, 1992, was a perfect motorcycling day in New Hampshire: it was cloudy and rainy in Oregon, cool In Illinois, balmy in Florida and warm and sunny in British Columbia. No one knows how many people rode motorcycles to work that day, but some did.
Among the unknown number of motorcyclists who saddled up for the first annual Ride-To-Work Day were a guitar salesman from Stow, Massachusetts; a painter and wall-covering specialist from Orlando, Florida; a motorcycling "grandma" from Alexandria. Virginia; the mayor of Kitimat,British Columbia: 15 members of the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Motorcycle Club: four extremely intelligent and good looking journalists from a publishing company in Mission Viejo, California; five hardworking bikers from Chuck Lindsay's Chevy Olds dealership in Morrison, Illinois, and six Rotarians from Anchorage, Alaska.
Chip Turner, a self-employed plumber from Pasedena, California, didn't ride to work on July 22. On the other hand, he did suit up in his Aerostich riding suit and posed for a photograph beside his Honda VFR. In the front of the photo. Chip spread out all the bulky paraphernalia of his trade, which obviously couldn't fit on the VFR.
"I think your Ride-To-Work Day is a great idea." Chip wrote. "I only wish I could participate." Upon further review, the official RTW judges think Chip's heart was in the right place. We counted him as a participant.
Larry Coleman rode his Harley Davidson Sportster from his home in Downers Grove, Illinois, to the York Barber Shop. He'd hoped for T-shirt temperatures, but got a chilly, rainy day instead. Larry exemplified the spirit of RTW Day when a "yuppy in her Volvo station wagon" pulled out in front of him on the way home.
"I didn't yell or do any obscene gesturing," Larry reported." I was proud of myself. Then with one mile to go, in the rain. I got stopped by the Amtrak. The commuter, then the 100-car coal train went by. By the time I made it to the garage. I was really soaked. It was fun!"
Chuck Esposito was one of several Readers who wrote a post-Ride-To-Work report wondering where all the bikes were on July 22. "I don't know how successful it was in the rest of the country, but I can tell you that in north metro Atlanta, I saw fewer motorcycles on the street than I normally do!"
Chuck wasn't alone in asking this question. Robert Martin on his H-D Dyna Glide and his riding partner on a Honda Shadow wondered the same thing on their way to work in Pittstown, New Jersey. CBS reporter Matt Conens of Medford, Oregon, had planned to do a TV story on the day, but had to scrap the idea when he couldn't find any motorcyclists to ride in front of his video camera.
"I certainly hope to see more bikes on the road on Ride to Work 93." wrote Matt.
In retrospect, the lack of apparent increase in bike riding on July 22 may not have been unusual, or even unexpected. Figure it this way: there are over 5,500 cities in the USA with populations of 5000 people or more. If 100,000 people had ridden to work, that would be an average of only 20 people per city. The odds of any two of those people being on the same street at the same time are pretty astronomical.
Give it some time. It'll get bigger. We figure that in three or four years when two or three million bikers come out to ride to work on the same day, it should draw some attention. The important thing is that lots of folks got things started in 1992 when they participated the first time around.
Folks like Steve Adams, who works for the University of New Hampshire's Sea Grant Program. Steve parked his Suzuki in front of the 300-year old farmhouse that is his office. "Marie Polk, one of my coworkers, agreed to shoot me in front of our office." Steve reported, then added. "She was only mildly disappointed when she realized I meant with a camera."
Folks like Bruce Ente, who works a a national health care agency in Wilmette, Illinois. "As I pulled into the company garage in pin-stripe suit and reflective vest on July 22, " Bruce wrote. "One of the older, more staid secretaries arriving at the same time said,'You've really found the right way to travel!' I couldn't have said it better myself."
And folks like Gary Niemberger, who rode to work in the rain in Littleton, Colorado. Gary shared the sentiments of all of us when he said, "Lets hope we got the first annual kicked off without an incident." Gary went on to write, "The Ride To Work '92 was a success behind my jacket, under my helmet and the rain can never dampen the spirit of our ride! Looking forward to many more!"
We got a kick out of the post-RTW report of Kitimat, British
Columbia, rider Paul Monaghan. Paul reported that the mayor of Kitimat, Rick Wozney, heard about the event and proclaimed July 22 as "Ride to Work Day in Kitimat." Then Mayor Wozney climbed aboard Paul's H-D FLHT and rode to work as his passenger.
Elsewhere on the governmental front, the Ride To Work Day was supported greatly in Pennsylvania by State Senator John Shumaker. With Senator Shumaker's assistance, the Harrisburg Motorcycle Club was able to secure temporary parking for the day in a special section set aside for RTW motorcyclists just outside the state capitol building. Frank Witmouth, president of the HMC reported that 15 club members-all of them Commonwealth of Pennsylvania employees-rode to work and parked proudly in the special RTW parking area.
Patricia Jeffries writes a regular column called "Grandma's Corner" for her local Gold Wing Road Riders Association chapter in the Washington
D.C. Area. Her tale of Ride-To-Work Day included carrying her "real" clothes (heels and a wrinkle-free dress) in a plastic bag tucked into her Honda Pacific Coast, getting all the way around Washington Circle without being cut off by a taxi cab (amazing!) and feeling like Superwoman in reverse as the garage attendants, building guards and co-workers all reacted with the proper degree of amazement to her commuter feat.
From Anchorage,Alaska RTW-er Jan Sands filed this report:
"In the land of the midnight sun, Alaskan motorcyclists who are also Rotarians celebrated July 22 by riding their bikes to their weekly Rotary meeting. A special table was decorated with balloons and riding helmets to honor the special Anchorage East Rotarians who ride motorcycles.
"This was an especially fun meeting and went a long way to promote and enhance the image of motorcycling. The table of bikers included a lawyer, a TV station general manager, a school administrator, a soft drink marketing manager, a stockbroker and an advertising executive."
So what does it all mean? Darned if we know. Depends on how cosmic you want to get.
There probably are few philosophical lessons to be drawn from the first Ride-To-Work Day. Governments did not topple and no unusual signs or portents appeared in the sky to herald significant changes in the universal tick-tocking of the planet Earth.
It was just a day when some folks got together and rode their motorcycles to their work places. Just for fun. Just to do it and enjoy.
As far as we're concerned, that's kind of neat. We thank everyone who participated. Let's do it again next year!
by Bob and Pattie