RIDE ON for a Better Future /

AIGA + Alternative Transportation

Designers Walk, Bike, and Ride Toward a Better Future

This past May marks AIGA Seattle's first year participating in Cascade Bicycle Club's annual Commute Challenge for Bike-to-Work Month. We didn't hear about the city-wide challenge until the last minute, but it called out like neon cam-o to a newly self-proclaimed hipster and we just couldn't ignore it.

Seattle is home to one of the country's most bike-friendly cities with great off-street paths, bike lanes, and an unending plethora of biking resources. It is also home to many entrepreneurs/designers who have found a unique niche in the biking industry like Iva JeanHub & BespokeAlchemy Goods and great events like Artcrank that revel in the glory of biking through a poster design party. Surprisingly, even in this inspiring and resourceful community, two-wheeling in Seattle isn’t growing like it is in other cities. For AIGA, the Bike-to-Work Month Challenge was a way to inspire designers to get out into the world in a new way and make a big difference in the community through one of the easiest ways possible.

Although there was only a two-week window to gather the troops,15 brave souls assembled into 2 teams under the umbrella of AIGA. Hornall Anderson put together a team of 7 people to ride who consistently put away the miles each week. A second team, Helvetica's Angel's, was a mash-up of 9 designer / cycling enthusiasts from all over the city who gathered to ride as one. Finishing with 153 trips and roughly 1600 miles, we came in just under a 50% commute rate. That’s roughly 160 lbs of CO2 saved in one month! Overall AIGA finished 171st of 1062 organizations – not too shabby for our first attempt.

A few individual riders deserve special recognition for going above and beyond. Kaitlin Powell, a UI designer at Moby, crushed the challenge with 95.7% commute rate. Robert Zweibel and Jonas Land, both designers at Hornall Anderson, challenged each other to ride everyday and finished successfully with a 100% commute rate. In the end Jonas peddled just 41 miles shy of Robert's impressive 374 cataloged miles in 22 trips. If Robert were a crow, he’d have been just outside of San Francisco by May 31st. 

Albeit fun, the distance data isn’t the take away here. Participation in community events has important impact. First and foremost, AIGA fosters the Living Principalsand Design for Goodplatforms that actively pursue design efforts that make way for social change. The world as we know it is becoming increasingly more populated and the demands on energy are stressed like never before. Add to that an American obesity epidemic and economic hardship and one can see there is plenty of room for improvement. Biking is one of the simplest ways to make short and long-term positive change to finances, health, and energy usage. It also just happens to be a blast.

Put more simply, “Biking is such a great way to improve [ones] lifestyle.”  - Robert Zwiebel

Getting designers actively involved in community events like this shows the world at large that designers actively care about the communities we live in. Huge corporations, architects and engineering firms often participate in these events, but finding design teams in the long list is like picking a needle out of a haystack. Through participation, the design community can promote philanthropy, camaraderie among our members and foster positive social change. If anybody can communicate the value and cool-factor of two-wheels, it’s us, but we all know that learning by example far exceeds the impact of suggestion. We are trendsetters and innovators. Let’s set the pace for the future.

Sad you missed out on this one or biking isn’t your thing? Good news! The Seattle Department of Transportation is hosting a Walk Bike Ride Challenge from June 15th-Sept 9th. Track your walk to the grocery store, bus trip to work, bike ride to a friend’s house, or carpool to the beach. This challenge lets you log any trip you avoid using a single person car to travel anywhere in the city. The more you log, and the more friends you invite to participate, the more chances you have to win great prizes.

Join AIGA Alt-Ttoday to get a fresh perspective on Seattle this summer!

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