I’ve been talking a lot about “bike train” lately as a group of us launch this group ride for commuters in San Jose. “Bike buddies” is another program used to encourage newcomers to try cycling to work.
The Safe Routes to School people call the bike version of their Walking School Bus a bike train. The Walking School Bus and Bike Train to school are both ways to encourage active transportation to and from school while also dealing with “stranger danger” fears. These programs also help traffic safety — a big clump of children accompanied by adult chaperons are much easier to spot at intersections than a single kid.
For San Jose, I was inspired by LA Bike Train and SF2G, which, respectively, organize group bike commutes in the Los Angeles area and San Francisco to South Bay. I suspect similar social rides take place in other populated urban areas and I’d love to hear of them.
Bicycle Bike Buddies
I haven’t mentioned them in a while, but several bicycle organizations and transportation management agencies also provide ride partnering to match the “bike curious” with an experienced bike commuter. The San Francisco Bay Area carpool ridematching service, for example, allows you to find “bike buddies.” Santa Cruz County also participates in the Bay Area ride matching service.
Other bike buddy services operated by a transportation management or congestion relief agency are available in Sacramento, Tampa Bay, Wisconsin, San Diego, Utah, Austin, Washingon and Idaho.
Volunteer bicycle organizations also run “bike buddy” systems. I’ve found them in Toledo, Chicago and Atlanta.
How to find bike buddy programs in your area
If your area has a bike buddy program and you’re a regular bike commuter, I encourage you to submit your name so people can find you.
Nobody really publicizes bike buddy matching services, so how do you find a local bike buddy program? Google is your friend. Search for “bike buddy” or “bike buddies” and your city. If you don’t find any for your specific city, work your way out to the county or regional level, then to the state. Click through on some of the examples I gave above so you have an idea of what to look for.
If you still don’t find anything, find the local transportation management, traffic congestion relief, or air quality management agency for your area. Every large and mid-sized urban area has one. They’ll have a website with information about carpools, vanpools and ridesharing, and any bike buddy program will probably be included with the carpool ride matching service. Sometimes these are called “bike ambassadors,” although bike ambassadors are usually a little more formal program.
What does a bike buddy do?
The small handful of times I’ve been “matched” with a new commuter, contact has come through email. It turns out the ride-matching doesn’t work that well (small pool to draw matches from across a huge region) so actual rides don’t really work out, but I’ve been able to suggest routes via email conversation.
Have you helped new commuters? What other types of ride-matching services are available for bike commuters?
Southeast Michigan has MiRideShare that should be added to the list. The area is so dominated by sprawl though, that the only luck with it that I’ve had has been in the city and inner suburbs.
And it all started in Lisbon, Portugal with MUBi’s Bike Buddy program: http://bikebuddy.mubi.pt/
Good to know, Anon. How old is that Portuguese program?
I was inspired by LA’s bike trains too! Will do some practice rides from Santa Clara to San Jose.