Zach Chissell

Zach Chissell    Artist and interviewer: Kevin Easterly

Zach Chissell

Artist and interviewer: Kevin Easterly

Two Wheel Tuesday is a weekly celebration of biking and, more specifically, of biking to work. It grew out of Bike to Work Day, which is an annual event. Similar to Earth Day, it should be more than once a year. We started up Two Wheel Tuesday as a weekly version with the main goal of building the biking community in Baltimore and using social media to share the stories of people who are biking. So they can say, “Oh this person does that, maybe I can do it.” And through our checkpoints every week, we essentially share good vibes—whether that’s snacks from a local producer, tickets to an event, or just conversations in the morning, we try to create an extra benefit to leaving the keys at home and riding your bike on Tuesday.

Another thing we do is count cyclists where we are in order to give those numbers to the City Department of Transportation to help make the case for putting in infrastructure. We can take a before and after on Maryland Avenue to say, “Look how many more people bike now because of the new cycle track.” It’s important because the city does bike counts throughout the year, but they can’t go out there every week. We get people to volunteer to do those counts more consistently, so we have better metrics about you know, what happens in the winter versus the summer? Or on a rainy day, what is the elasticity of our biking demand? (laughs)

In the spirit of reducing the number of cars on the road, I think biking is a great tool to get people outside of that glass and metal shell and actually experiencing the city where they are. It’s about improving the city. It’s about making it a place where people live, and hang out, and don’t just drive through on 83 as they go away. So while we talk about bikes, and that’s kind of the tool, the goal is much bigger than just getting more people on bikes. It’s about making Baltimore a better city, a healthier city, a city with more vibrant communities—and not a smog-filled commuter city.

There’s a huge leadership change in Baltimore. It’s a great opportunity, and there are a lot of young, fresh ideas in City Council to reassess the Department of Transportation. From those decisions on down, a lot of policies get made about things like parking spots and space for buses—because buses and bikes really act together to allow someone to live car free. There’s also investments in the pedestrian realm… and all those small decisions add up to what this city looks like. Do we want to go back to highways and commuters and parking garages? Or do we want to reward people who live in Baltimore and want to use public transportation and walk and ride the bike? I think that’s a huge decision in front of us.

[So, what can folks do?]

Getting on your bikes is big. So is getting involved with Bikemore, the bicycle advocacy group in Baltimore. They are doing a great job of growing their membership and giving it a more powerful, unified voice in getting things done. They played a huge role in the reason we have the Maryland Avenue cycle track and in pushing for Bike Share. Two Wheel Tuesdays is just one of the awesome plethora of bike programs, whether it’s BYKE, which works with kids to repair bikes and teach them new skills, or Bike Party which is a great celebration with a festive atmosphere each month—the list goes on. That great ecosystem of cool bike programs is reflective of all the diversity of cyclists in Baltimore—and that’s what it’s all about.

Lastly, for some global inspiration on innovative bike share programs across the globe, check out this feature from Biking Expert