A while back, we all talked about what could be done to get more people involved in using their bicycles.  While we had lots of interesting discussion on infrastructure ideas, gasoline prices affecting ridership, and such, I felt we were missing something.

Doing a little further reading, I found several cities who had instituted a Bicycle Commuting Mentor Program.  Basically,  experienced cyclists commit to helping anyone who is interested in learning how to use their bicycle for the purpose of transportation.  I thought this idea had a lot going for it.  It’s something that can start small, grow over time with others involvement, and eliminates one of the biggest obstacles in trying something like this — who can I call on for help?

Here in my office, I put up a notice on our daily email newsletter.  Here’s what I said:

Commute by Bike to Work!!

Have you thought about riding your bike to work, but were concerned about how safe it is?  Maybe you’ve tried commuting but weren’t sure how to cope with riding in the rain, in the dark or in traffic. Would you want to learn all the ins and outs of bicycle commuting?  Whatever your situation, let me, Andrew Harrell, be your “Bike Mentor” and help get you cycling to work.

I will work with you so that we can find a safe, easy commute between your neighborhood and workplace.  I can help you with all of the following:

  • selecting a comfortable route
  • riding safely in traffic
  • choosing gear for commuting
  • taking your bike on the bus
  • ride with you on your first trip to work
  • offer ongoing encouragement and advice
  • include you in a supportive community of like-minded bike commuters.

You’ll do wonders for your health (work out while getting to work!), for your pocketbook (save gas $$), for the environment, and for your state of mind (cycling makes you feel great!)

Contact Andrew Harrell at Ext. 435 if interested!!

Initial reaction was positive, with a couple people talking to me about options on occasionally riding to work. Right now, most have concerns about weather (cold!) and riding at night.

I know right now might not be the best time to try to recruit new riders, but what I really want is to hear from the readers of CommuteOrlando (and others in the cycling community) to see if such a program could be started from the “grass roots” . My thinking is that if we had something fully fleshed out and ready to go by March 2009 (Bike Month) it is then something that we can promote and advertise locally (at LBS, campuses, etc) and possibly get a nice response from!

More specifically, does anyone have any thougths about how we could incorporate something like a Bicycle Mentoring Program here inside of CommuteOrlando (I have spoken to Keri and she is in favor). If so, what kind of set up or arrangement would we want to have? Design ideas? Features? Email forum? I’d like to see CommuteOrlando as the website people go to to sign up for this kind of mentorship — and linger to read all the other great articles and information we have available!

If it helps, here are some examples of other communities that have initiated a Bike Mentor program:

Interested in hearing what you folks think about the idea … thanks for the feedback.

7 replies
  1. Mighk
    Mighk says: is a site that allows you to create a group (the site is currently down as of 6:PM Monday; hopefully this is not a recurring problem). The front end of a local mentoring site could cover the basic concept, while could serve as the matching system.

  2. fred_dot_u
    fred_dot_u says:

    I would be willing to provide mentorship to commuters in the Daytona Beach area, but I lack the organizational skills to set up and begin such a project.

    If there were already a site to make my offer known, I’d post straight away. Being self-employed and at the whims of my clients, my route varies, but I can easily adjust to other commuters.

  3. Keri
    Keri says:

    I have a fairly flexible schedule, so I could easily mentor someone. And I’m always available for route-planning assistance. Anyone can use the contact form to ask me for advice on how to get from point A to Point B.

  4. acline
    acline says:

    It’s a super idea. I’ve mentioned a couple of times on Carbon Trace that I’m willing to do this same thing. But you’ve taken it an important step further. So, I’ll just announce right here and now that I’m going to rip off your excellent handbill 🙂 I’ll also bring it up tomorrow night at our bicycle advocacy committee meeting.

  5. rodney
    rodney says:

    I’ve been trying to get a riding group together at work. Many of my coworkers are “amazed”, intrigued”, wowed” , and concerned that I commute to work after the sun has settled. A great deal has been learned since I began commuting over 14 months ago. Let me know how I can help make this happen. (Mentoring)

  6. eddie
    eddie says:

    this blog does a great job of pushing the idea that education is the one best thing an individual can do to improve the experience of “riding in the world as it is”.
    The road 1 class seems to be a good introduction that would build confidence, and facilitate a social interaction with peers that might offer mentoring possibilities.
    it’s a good step size of commitment. take a class, come to your own conclusions.
    accepting a mentorship is a bit more of a jump, with all these social what ifs that would make me pause.
    of course, as you said, you’e got a positive response so far, so good luck.
    I haven’t take the course, tho I want to. It just seems like if it was offered more often… milo is getting up so I leave it there…

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