So somehow, somebody got the Mayor of Little Rock to agree to leave his car at home for a week and get around by bus and bike. He said he’d do some media stuff and really encourage people to join him in a car-free week. Great, said the Bike Friendly Community Committee.
Somehow, somebody (I really don’t think it was me) suggested that we hold a kind of educational event to teach practical skills so that people would feel more comfortable using their bikes for transportation. Somehow, I made suggestions about this event. And somehow I got put in charge of it. A Car-Free Learning Day. A Bike Fair. With three weeks to plan.
I made a list of twelve problems people might have when planning to ride a bike to work. I listed things like “Won’t People Think I’m Wierd?” and “How do I carry my stuff?” and “How do I Plan a Safe Route?”
We got lots of volunteers to help out. We had two people at each table, and I asked people to do things they really knew about. Brad has seen a huge improvement in his asthma since he started riding a lot – he was perfect answer the question ‘Why should I ride more?” The “How Can I Clean Up When I Get to Work?” table was covered by Julie (an attorney) and Kathy (a teacher) – if they can ride to work and look professional by 8am, anybody should be able to.
Ron King, the guy who heads up the Recycle Bikes for Kids program, was there to talk to folks about bike maintenance and repair. And I even got Central Arkansas Transit to bring a bus and let people try out the bike racks on the front. CAT donated some free passes, to help get cyclists to try out using CAT for part of their bike commute to work.
Mayor Stodola came to the Car-Free Fair and spoke to the four TV cameras that were there. I had to say stuff too, but mercifully they didn’t actually show me on the air that night. The newspaper interview went really well, and the photo that was published in the Democrat-Gazette showed Nick and Mandy knife-fighting on unicycles in the new ring we’d built just for the occasion.
It was such a good event. It wasn’t perfect, but with only three weeks or so to plan it, I was really proud of how our family and friends and the rest of the bike community showed up and helped out. Thanks, everybody. I think we really helped some people. I hope they’ll ask us to do it again next year.