10 Reasons Walking/Running an Event is Better than Biking

I usually join in our local Bridge Pedal/Bridge Stride event and Sunday Parkways events in Portland, Oregon. I walk while I watch people trying to maneuver on bikes. These aren't races, they are just for fun. I can list the ways walking or running at these events is much easier and more fun. If you have a friendly debate going with your spandex-clad friends about biking vs. walking, here are my talking points.

Getting To and From the Start/Finish

Mountain Bikers and Hikers
Matelly/Cultura/Getty Images
Walkers and runners just hop into a car, bus, train, or get there on foot, without a major piece of equipment to deal with. Bikers have to either cycle there and back or they have to deal with getting the bike onto a vehicle. That takes extra time and drama. Bikes fly off of bike racks. Bus riders glower at the delay you cause securing the bike. If you have to line up to start an event, it's much easier to do it on two feet, with far less chance of falling than if you are on a bike. After the finish, bikers have to get the bike home or find a safe place to secure it, while we walkers are free to stroll.

Grabbing Goodies

Clif Bar Goodie Stop at Providence Bridge Pedal
Clif Bar Goodie Stop at Providence Bridge Pedal. Wendy Bumgardner © 2013

If you love the free energy bars, energy gels, sports drink, and giveaways at races and community events, you will score more on foot. Bikers need Tour de France-level skills for grabbing on the go balancing on two wheels if they don't want to get off the bike at the goodie stop. And then you have to figure out where to stash your goodies. Meanwhile, the walkers and runners have grabbed and stashed and gone on to the next goodie stop. She who gets the most freebies wins!

Road Rash

Road Rash from Bike Crash
Road Rash from Bike Crash. Wendy Bumgardner © 2013

I've wiped out on foot, but I'd wager the risks and the injury potential are much worse on a bike. What biker do you know who hasn't broken a collarbone? I was formulating this list as I walked the Providence Bridge Pedal/Stride. I figured I would be able to get a photo of an unfortunate biker. Sure enough, just three blocks from the finish line I heard skreeeeeech, bam, arrrrggghhhhh behind me. Two cyclists let the speed get to them coming down from the bridge and hit the asphalt. One bike lost both wheels and the handlebars! Luckily, the bikers got up and were walking around and the event official was there with a radio to call for assistance. What's Your Worst Walking Injury?

Flat Tires vs. Loose Laces

Loose Shoelaces
Loose Shoelaces. Wendy Bumgardner © 2013

Bikers inevitably find themselves at the side of the road dealing with a mechanical issue. You get a flat tire. Your chain breaks or derails. Brakes misbehave. Walkers and runners only have to deal with loose shoelaces and removing pebbles or debris from our shoes. We are up and going in a few seconds. Bikers may have to take the walk of shame back or call for a pick-up. 

Making a Restroom Stop

Bicyclists Line Up at the Portable Toilets
Bicyclists Line Up at the Portable Toilets. Wendy Bumgardner © 2013
It's lot easier for walkers/runners to line up at the porta-johns at the event start/finish than it is for bikers. This gaggle of bikers really looked clueless as to who was next in line and were still debating what to do with the bikes when they went into the little green house. When nature calls, walkers and runners can dash into a public restroom, porta-john or local business. Bikers have to park and lock the bike. If you need to make an emergency dash behind some shrubbery, it's harder to hide both your bare bum and the bike.

Taking Selfies

Taking Selfie - Valencia, Spain
Taking Selfie - Valencia, Spain. Andy Smith/Cultura/Getty Images
Unless you have a helmet cam, it isn't easy to take photos and video from your bike while you are moving. Walkers and runners can just pause, snap, and go. I saw a lot of camera juggling as bikers came to the top of the freeway bridge on the Bridge Pedal. My gang of walkers didn't have to dismount to pose for the view portrait.

Headwear Requirements

Walking Hats
Walking Hats. © Wendy Bumgardner

It's not only smart to wear a bike helmet, in many places it's the law, and most organized bike rides require them anyway. No brain bucket, no ride. Meanwhile, walkers have a choice of exposing their scalp to solar radiation damage or risking hat hair. While you can get snazzy bike helmet designs, you have a much wider choice in walking hats and visors.

Bringing Your Dog With You

Happy Walking Dog on Leash
Elizabeth W. Kearley/Moment Mobile/Getty

While I've seen bikers out "walking" their dog on a leash while riding, it looks like an accident waiting to happen. Taking them along in a doggie trailer or the basket of your bike doesn't give them any exercise. If you want quality time with your pet, you want to walk or run. 

Checking the Route Map

Touring with a Map and Guidebook
Touring with a Map and Guidebook. Frank and Helena/Vetta/Getty Images

Do you know where are you going? Are you sure? Bikers have fewer hands-free choices for checking their route, and less time to spot route signage. Walkers and runner can check their maps or apps while still moving to know where they are and how to get to the finish line.

Talking the Talk


It's a lot harder to ride side by side for chatting than it is for those on foot to walk/run abreast. Even on a tandem bike you can't see each others' faces. Biking together often means seeing rather than socializing. Taking a walk together is one of the easiest ways to enjoy natural conversations with your teen who hasn't given you more than a grunt or whine in the past two years. On a bike, you'd probably only spot them off in the distance. To talk the talk, you want to walk the walk.

Next: 10 Ways Walking is Better than Running