Have you ever ridden a bike to church?
It’s Bike to Work Week here in Chicago, and this year U.S. Catholic has a team. We’re currently in 5th place for our size office with more than 70% participating by riding a bike to work. I’m the team leader and couldn’t be more proud of my co-workers. In the past year, three people started riding to work for the first time, and three more of us challenged ourselves to ride through the winter. Granted, we had a mild winter, but having watched the first snowflakes of the season from my bicycle made gave me warm feeling inside.
Since we’re a Catholic magazine, and I’m always looking for good Catholic stories, all this commuting by bike has had me thinking about how Catholics get to church. With the current trends of merging and supersizing parishes to accommodate both dwindling Mass attendance and the increasingly sprawling and less concentrated Catholic populations, I imagine for non-city dwellers, the seemingly only way to get to church is by car, which of course means bigger parking lots. And trying to get in and out of a parking lot before and after Mass can challenge even the most saintly among us.
I say seemingly, because, thanks to a dirge of alternative transit advocacy groups in the past 10 years, I’ve noticed bike lanes in places I'd previously deemed unlikely to have them. While visiting Tallahassee over Christmas, I took note of the freshly painted bike lanes even several miles from the center of town. Unfortunately, poorly planned bike lanes aren’t utilized by most bikers. It takes a good dose confidence (and then some) to share a lane with fast-moving vehicle traffic. Well-planned bike lanes are usually protected from cars by barriers of some kind or on roads where traffic has been strategically slowed by traffic lights, a single lane, or speed bumps. Even then, the knowledge that most drivers don’t know how to share the road with bicycles (or just don’t want to) adds to the reluctance on the part of would-be cyclists.
So, I created a poll to solicit the input from our readers. I want to know if you’ve ever ridden your bike to church. Feel free to leave a comment explaining why or why you haven’t.