By Patrick Stephenson
In March 2010, during an especially balmy and bright Minneapolis spring, best friends Patrick Stephenson (yours truly) and Zachariah Schaap co-founded a Social Media Beast named 30 Days of Biking.
The premise of 30 Days of Biking was beautifully simple: Pledge to bike every day in April, 1–30, no matter the weather, then share your adventures online, #30daysofbiking. It didn’t matter how far you rode. It could be 20 miles or two, around the block or across the state. You just had to bike. People from not only Minneapolis but also around the world joined in—until 300-some cyclists had pledged to ride 30 days in a row. And just like that, 30 Days of Biking blew up.
The response 30 Days of Biking has received since its inception in 2010 has been staggering. People love bikes and want to ride every day. Our movement just gave their desire a name—and a month.
We don’t want 30 Days of Biking participants to worry about whether they have the right bike, or whether their butts look good in spandex. We just want ‘em out there, pedaling through our communities. Our goal is not to reject cars so much as promote bikes as a viable alternative to cars. We want you to remember how riding around your neighborhood felt when you were a kid, when a bike was your only transportation and you loved it. We want you to remember the freedom bicycling offers. The happiness, the independence. These things aren’t lost to the ages or the past. They’re still available. And, ultimately, they lead to a healthier life.
Now, in 2014, 30 Days of Biking is still here, still strong, with pledges made by thousands of people, some from as far away as Gijón, Spain and Minsk, Belarus. We’ve adopted a cyan XXX logo, a symbol for our community of joyful cyclists that represents the Roman numerals for 30 and looks like a partial hashtag (a shout-out to our Twitter roots). We’ve encouraged people to set up local chapters—and they have with city captains in Dubuque, Iowa; Detroit, Michigan; Boston, Massachusetts; and the Northwoods of Wisconsin, among many other locations. AND, we finally have merchandise with a line of bags from Banjo Brothers and our first official T-shirt.
Our biggest 2014 update is our partnership with Free Bikes 4 Kidz. For every 30 pledges, we are donating a free bike to a kid in need with funds raised from sponsorships, merchandising, and a poster show organized by Adam Turman. Like 30 Days of Biking, Free Bikes 4 Kidz is a Minneapolis organization that believes the world can change, profoundly, if we spread the word about bicycling—and put bikes into the hands of those who don’t have them. A bike is especially transformative for a kid. It’s a kid’s first hint of independence and we want to pass that power on. This 2014 partnership is a great fifth-year step for us. It’s an expansion of our mission—from improving yourself to improving the Earth.
Our goal this year is to reach 9,000 pledges, which translates into 300 Free Bikes 4 Kidz. That’s more than twice the number we’ve ever garnered, but we can do it.
Make the pledge, right now. Ride with us throughout April. You won’t regret it.