It should come as no surprise that the famously bike-friendly Dutch lead the western world in bicycle commuting. In the Netherlands, commuters routinely choose biking over driving, with a solid 30 percent of the country cycling to work each day. The U.S., by comparison, has only a fraction of bicycle commuters: 2 percent, though you can imagine that percentage is even lower in a city like Houston. To be fair, the Netherlands offers a more bike-friendly climate than the U.S., and we don't just mean the weather: there's infrastructure in place to protect cyclists from automobiles and other vehicles, and the Dutch learn how to share the road from an early age.
While BikeHouston can't do anything about Houston's actual climate—the humid subtropical one that often makes bike commuting impractical for entirely different reasons—it does intend to help teach novice cyclists the best and safest way to navigate our own, famously car-friendly streets. All month long, the local cycling advocacy group will be leading Bike to Work days throughout the city.
Tomorrow's big Bike to Work day will take place in Greenway Plaza and the Galleria, beginning at 6:45 a.m. The group ride will follow three different routes, each starting at three different locations: one at Heights Blvd. and 5th; one in Midtown at Holman and Fannin; and one near West U at Sunset Blvd. and Kent. All three rides will convene at Greenway Plaza by 7:45 a.m. and will continue on to Williams Tower, arriving at 8:05 a.m.
Anyone who's driven through Montrose has undoubtedly seen the cyclists taking their lives into their hands (and, hopefully, helmets) by braving Lower Westheimer and its tricky curves. BikeHouston's mission is to teach you not to be that person, and instead to learn the safer back roads and byways that will get you to work unharmed and, ideally, not nearly as sweaty—plenty of those back roads are shaded with Houston's big, leafy oak trees.
Bike to Work days will take place throughout the month, with the next group ride taking place in Sugar Land on Friday, the Energy Corridor and NASA on May 19, and finally downtown and The Woodlands on May 20. It may not transform Houston into Amsterdam overnight, but it's as good a start as any.