MAG announced in September 2019 that, from 2020, it is to promote Ride To Work Day in the UK. MAG’s Director of Campaigns and Political Engagement, Colin Brown discusses the benefits and potential for this event in the UK.
Many of you will have noticed that Ride To Work Week 2019 did not happen. Some may feel, like me, that Ride To Work Week over the preceding few years lacked energy and enthusiasm. In the UK Ride To Work Week has been a Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) campaign. MAG discussed with the MCIA their logic of retiring the campaign.
The MCIA are trying a new approach. They have launched TryRIDE, aimed purely at encouraging new riders, is year-long campaign, not restricted to a single week.
To be fair this makes perfect sense for an industry that makes money by selling motorcycles.
MAG next contacted the international Ride To Work Day Organisation. They were happy to ratify MAG as UK promoters of the campaign. And so it came to pass that we took up the reins here in the UK.
So where did the Ride To Work Day campaign come from?
Ride to Work Day was inspired by “Work to Ride – Ride to Work'” marketing materials. The Aero Design and Manufacturing Company created these materials between 1989 and 1991. This inspired motorcycle magazine editor Fred Rau to write an editorial in 1992 calling for a national ride to work day.
The first annual Ride to Work Day event was proposed in Road Rider magazine in the May 1992 issue. Bob Carpenter had commented in his ‘Two Up’ column how neat it would be if there was one day a year when everyone who owned a motorcycle used it to ride to work. That comment was prompted by a T-shirt that simply said, ‘Work To Ride, Ride To Work.’ Everyone seemed to think that a national ‘Ride To Work’ day was one heck of a good idea.
The first Ride to Work Day was the 22nd July, 1992. Various motorcycle businesses informally promoted every third Wednesday in July as Ride To Work Day for several years . The event continued to grow as an informal grass roots demonstration every year until 2000. That year a non-profit organisation, Ride to Work was formed to help organise and promote Ride to Work Day.
In 2008, the date was changed to the third Monday In June. This move was catch better weather for riders world-wide. It gave more riders an opportunity to participate.
What does promoting Ride To Work Day mean to MAG?
For MAG the opportunity to promote this campaign holds many benefits.
- Promoting the campaign increases the level of recognition and awareness of MAG in the wider community.
- MAG actively promote modal shift to motorcycles as a key objective. It makes perfect sense that we encourage all motorcyclists to commute by motorcycle, not by car.
- The campaign is both well established and international. This adds weight, consistency and opportunity to carry the message that motorcycles are good to policy makers here in the UK.
I know that we will hear many motorcyclists stating that they already commute on their bikes.
To those individuals I say: “we salute you”.
However, the majority of motorcyclists these days probably fit into the hobbyist or “weekend warrior” category. At MAG we welcome purists, hobby riders and even those with just a passing interest in motorcycles. We do not make individuals feel guilty for not being hard-core, all weather bikers. The ‘I wouldn’t be seen dead in a car’ approach is not the agenda here. That said, there are many riders commuting by car that could make their daily trip a powered two wheel experience. – At least some of the time.
Why don’t more bikers ride to work?
Many obstacles discourage riders from commuting to work on a motorcycle, even for those that are enthusiasts. In life before MAG, I commuted to work by motorcycle for many years until I was promoted to a role that included a company car. When I asked if a company motorcycle was an option, I was firmly told not to limit my career. So I added 20 minutes to my 25 minute commute time and miserably sat in traffic jams for years.
I fought a number of battles with senior management on behalf of colleagues. They complained that there was no secure parking for their motorcycles at work. Often colleagues were frowned upon for making the office look untidy when they left a crash helmet on a filing cabinet.
MAG will promote Ride To Work Day in the UK with it’s usual passion. Biases, both conscious and unconscious will be tackled by MAG’s Ride To Work Campaign.
MAG sees no sense in bullying people into riding motorcycles. We don’t call for segregated road space to encourage nervous riders onto the road. We do want to ensure that all those that currently ride are not frowned upon. Equally we will support those that don’t ride to give it a go.
Motorcycling is not for everyone. Allowing those who wish to use the mode the genuine freedom to do so will be a benefit to all members of society. For every biker not currently commuting by motorcycle there could be one less car clogging the roads. All we ask is that the obstacles to choosing motorcycles be removed.
So get your 2020 diary out and mark down Monday 15th June 2020 as the first MAG Ride To Work Day.