Ride to Work Day: let's make it better

Is this the best we can do?

Did you ride to work last Monday? Good for you if did. You might not have even known it was Ride to Work Day, it could just be what you do every day.

As I rode into work on Ride to Work Day, I didn't notice any more motorcycles on the road than usual. Infact, if I'm being honest, there were less.

So this year I found myself questioning the point of it all. Actually, the point of doing it the way it's currently done.

According to the website of the Motorcycle Industry Association (the people in charge of 'organising' the day), one of the aims of Ride to Work day is: 'To demonstrate to a wide audience the number of motorcyclists in the UK'.

It should read positively demonstrate, as a wide audience realised how many bikers can hit the roads during the No To Bike Parking Tax campaign where hundreds of bikers jammed up the roads: demonstrating to a wide audience but not helping our image.

Now, I believe getting more people onto two wheels is a good thing and I'm not just saying that because more bikes equals more money in the industry and more chance of me staying in this job.

It makes sense for a large number of people to ditch the car or public transport and get onto two wheels but we're creatures of habit, often quite lazy and only do things with our own best interests in mind. So if we can counter these three things, we'll be well on our way to getting more people on two wheels.

Breaking the routine

Naming a date, sending out a few press releases and hoping it works is never going to work. That's never going to make people get up on a Monday morning and think: "I know, I never normally ride to work, but today I will because Visordown said I should even though I have no idea how long it will take and what the traffic is like, whether my bike's got fuel in it and whether I can find my rucksack to stick my work clothes in."

No-one's going to do it for the greater good and the image of motorcycling, they're only going to do it if it benefits them.

So if I stick with the MCIA's aims, we want to have more motorcycles on the road and have the general public take notice. Right, so...

Competing with cyclists

Why did we run Ride to Work day at the same time as Team Green Britain Bike Week? While I also love push-bikes and think they're a great way to get around and beat the traffic, surely any increase in cyclists will counter any visible rise in motorcycles if we run it at the same time.

Breaking the habit

There are two half-terms 'in the biking season'. This year they're Monday 30th of May to Friday 3rd of June and then Monday 24th of October to Friday 28th of October 2011.

Half-term is a time when the roads are actually much quieter, much better to commute in on. So shouldn't we be encouraging people to break their normal habit by saying "Look, the roads are empty, ditch the public transport or your car for a few days and enjoy your bike instead."

The way I see it, the Mums and Dads getting away with their kids on half-term are the least likely people to be riding motorcycles, so it's not like we'll lose out on potential bikers to be filling the roads when young families are heading off on holiday.

There are two half-terms

Why don't we run Ride To Work Day twice a year, in the Summer and Autumn half term? That way we get the message out earlier in the year and for those who don't make the first call, they have a chance to join in later on in the year when they're probably more likely to have dusted off the bike and been out a few more times.

Advertising on public transport

I understand just how little marketing budget exists in the UK motorcycle industry but in my opinion the MCIA should be pushing the benefits of Powered Two Wheelers on public transport because that's where you've got a captive audience who have chosen one option but perhaps haven't considered the benefits on another. If you get the attention of someone who's rammed in on a hot, sticky and delayed tube train, chances are they'll give anything else a try..

I wonder if we'll stick with the same 'strategy' for Ride to Work Day next year; as it currently stands, I don't think it makes a difference.

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