What used to be Bike to Work Month is now Bike Everywhere Month. This is kind of cool for people like my hubby Doug who aren’t in a situation where pedaling to work is feasible at the moment (in his case, because the idea of riding downtown on a recumbent trike = scary) can still participate and log miles for running errands, recreational riding, etc. Yesterday he rode his trike to PT and back. This is the kind of freedom he needs and has been missing, so I’m super happy for him.
I’ll be participating this May as part of the City of Seattle’s Greenhouse G-ass Kickers and logging most of my miles commuting. Tomorrow’s looking decent for the kick-off, so it will be fun to see lots of bikes (and maybe some unis and trikes?) around town.
I’ve been a bike commuter for about 12 years and have ridden a few different routes around Seattle (including the dreaded ferry commute – more on that later), with my least favorite being the ride from Ballard to lower Queen Anne. So glad I don’t have to do that anymore – the whole Seattle Center area is so chaotic with Aurora, Dexter, Denny and all that.
Some crazy things have definitely happened on my commutes. Yes, I’ve fallen a few times, usually stupid things I did when roads were rain-slick. Braked too hard, hit the ferry ramp at an odd angle…nothing is more humiliating than falling in front of a bunch of tough 365 riders on the ferry (they ride every day, no matter what the weather is doing). I’m mostly a fair-weather rider but sometimes you gamble and it’s easy to get caught in the rain around here.
One night I almost ran into/over a raccoon. Luckily I think it saw my headlight and scuttled across the road just in time. I just caught a flash of the green eyes, no way I’d have stopped in time. I’ve eaten some bugs. No bees though, although a few have bounced off my lips and teeth.
Recently, a bus on 5th Ave. nearly took me out, prompting me to get the bus number and email Sound Transit the minute I got home. I don’t know if buses vs. bikes is usually a problem, I haven’t had too many experiences like that myself but I don’t have to ride many streets where there are buses. I also popped a tire at almost the exact same spot when I hit a terrible crevice in the road. This actually turned out to be quite convenient as I was right at the International District light rail station and just hopped on there. Had to walk my poor wounded bike home a mile and fixing it was more challenging than I was used to, not having had to work around disc brakes before. Got it done though!
In spite of the random things you can encounter, I love bike commuting, I truly think it’s the best way to get around for a bunch of reasons. First and foremost is exercise. You can’t beat the calories you burn and the energy you get from a 30+ minute ride at the beginning and end of your work days. Plus, no gym needed! And more snacks.
It’s faster than transit and can be faster than driving depending on time of day and/or sporting events. Mid-day Mariners games are killers for evening traffic, but on a bike, you just cruise right on by the mayhem. You sure as hell spend a lot less time being pissed at other people. Well, occasionally you still get pissed at drivers (see bus story) or even other bikers, so it’s not totally wrath-free. Interesting conversations can happen, like this one where a Seattle biker asked a woman if she knew she had parked in a bike lane. Zoiks.
Of course, I love that it’s a carbon-free form of transportation. Well, I do have to exhale when I’m riding and people have actually suggested that because you breathe more heavily when biking you’re contributing more to climate change than if you say, drove certain vehicles. Complete crazy talk, as discussed here.
My bike is pretty great – bought it two years ago from Ride Bicycles in the Roosevelt area. It’s the Spot Acme with a belt drive instead of a chain (yay, no more grease!) and slightly wider tires for traction. I added a Seahawks flag to the back and other bikers sometimes tease me about trying to make friends with drivers through whatever means possible, which is fair (and why not?) but 12s should put their pride on whatever form of transportation is at their disposal if you ask me!
I do a lot of thinking on my bike. I like to make up stories, or try to think in French as I observe things I ride past. This usually involves sentences that sound like a 6-year old since I have lost most of my vocabulary. One day I spent a good part of my ride trying to remember the word for leaf; it must have been fall, when the leaves were turning and starting to drop. You see the seasons unfurling each day when you’re on a bike.
I’m inspired to see more and more people getting on their bikes and I think we’re at a tipping point. Seattle’s traffic just keeps getting worse, so I think the appeal will grow. If you haven’t tried riding yet, get out there, ask another biker to show you the ropes, explore your neighborhood by bike, just do it! You’ll get addicted.