Thousands of people will ditch the car keys and instead grab their bikes on Friday, May 16, as part of the 17th annual Bike to Work and School Day.
It may be a little uncomfortable to pedal the miles rather than push the pedal, but it doesn't have to be thanks to a Bellingham company pioneered by Charlie Heggem and Paul Barkley.
The duo have created a bike seat that makes any bike for any person comfortable. The invention is called the BodyFloat Isolation Seat Post.
BodyFloat uses advanced technology to isolate the rider from the bike, making it so the rider doesn't have to feel the bumps and vibrations of the road, similar to what a car does.
"What the BodyFloat does is it levitates the rider over the bike," Heggem said in a phone interview. "The body stays stable and the bike is free to move underneath, eliminating any uncomfortable movements."
The BodyFloat looks as if it will be very bouncy, due to the two springs that appear as the key element in the product. That's exactly the opposite of what the BodyFloat does.
"People that ride it look and see springs and think they will bounce," Heggem said. "Once they sit on it, it's massively effective."
The seat can be installed on any bike and sells for $395, although Heggem and Barkley, who was the original inventor of the the product, are working to bring the cost down so more people can use it.
The people who have already purchased the item say it's more cost-effective than purchasing a nice set of wheels that can be as much as $3,000.
The BodyFloat can also be tuned for anyone from 50 to 300 pounds.
"It makes any bike better," Heggem said.
Any bike can now be comfortable for 400 feet or 400 miles, but it also provides therapeutical benefits. That was the reason Heggem and Barkley first started the process.
Heggem has worked with several disabled riders and has sold the seat to nine of Seattle physical therapist Eric Moen's patients.
"It's extremely helpful in post-surgery situations," Heggem said. "We can start soft and tune it through your recovery until it gets back to normal."
After a four-year process of creating and developing the product, the BodyFloat finally hit the market three months ago. Since then, nearly 300 seats have been sold.
The response has been "absurdly good," Heggem said.
"Of our customers that have been on it, not one has returned it," Heggem said. "We actually have not had one complaint. ... If it doesn't feel the way it's supposed to, we just tune it to make it work."
Even riders who have never been happy riding a bike before found the seat made riding more accessible.
"I had two testimonials recently from two ladies, who were both in excess of 200 pounds, who never found something they could ride and be comfortable," Heggem said. "They called me in tears, saying that the product was truly amazing and said, 'I can ride my bike. I want to ride now. It's going to make losing weight easier.'"
Testimonials like the two women's inspire Heggem to continue doing what he's doing. His goal: to make riding accessible to everyone.
Heggem is confident in his product and the fact he can sell it to anyone from the beginner to the professional. It's suitable for anyone and everyone.
"We realize this product is real and it works," Heggem said. "We are preparing for significant growth as we enter shops."
Heggem is so proud of the product, he was surprised nobody had thought of it first. Of course, he gives all the credit for the idea to Barkley.
After hearing Barkley was starting to create this product, Heggem hopped on the project and helped create the company, Cirrus Cycles, to sell it. The company is only five-people large, with one employee and four partners contributing.
Places that sell the BodyFloat include Cirrus Cycles at 611 Kentucky Street, Suite A and Fairhaven Bike and Ski on 1108 11th Street.
After checking out the BodyFloat, don't forget to ride by one of the 26 Bike to Work and School Day celebration stations, where bells will be ringing and cookies handed out in honor of the commitment to alternative transportation.
Last year, more than 9,000 people participated in the celebration.
For a full list of station locations, visit biketoworkandschoolday.org
The stations will be handing out stickers that read, "I biked to work." Several Bellingham shops will be offering discounts on Friday if the sticker is present.
Reach Joshua Hart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2851.
BIKE TO WORK AND SCHOOL DAY
When: Friday, May 16
Where: 26 Bellingham and Whatcom County locations
CELEBRATION STATION LOCATIONS
City Locations: Bakerview & Northwest; Barkley Village Gazebo; Bellingham Technical College; Lakeway & Lincoln; Community Food Co-Op (Cordata at Westerly); Holly & Railroad; Iowa & Lincoln; Dupont & Broadway; 12th & Finnegan; Marine Drive & Bennett; Meridian & Illinois; Squalicum & Ellis; Roeder Ave & Bellwether Way; Public Market (Cornwall Ave & York St); Bill McDonald Parkway and Samish Way; Fairhaven Pkwy & 30th; Sunnyland Elementary School (James St. at Ped bridge); The HUB (South Bay Trail); Whatcom Community College; WWU Red Square; WWU Student Recreation Center
County Locations: Northwest at Smith Road; Ferndale Main Street (at Hardware Store); Blaine Schools ( H Street); Everson/Nooksack (Nooksack Valley Middle School); Lummi Fitness Center