Tuesday, June 5, 2007

BICYCLING TO WORK

LEAVE THE CAR AT HOME. I've committed to ride my bicycle to work two days a week this summer. Today, it took me 45 minutes from 56th Street & Dandy Trail at Eagle Creek Park to West Morris Street & Pershing near downtown. The main route was in a southeast direction on Lafayette Road. This is a four-lane roadway with wide shoulders and turn lanes. Traffic was fine. I hauled my laptop computer, a book, and change of clothes in saddle bags. I listened to several editions of news podcasts on my iPod while I rode, having downloaded updates earlier this morning.

MORE TIME, LESS STRESS. Bicycling to work has trade-offs, to be sure. It takes more time. I usually make it to work from home in about 20-25 minutes via my VW Beetle. The bike ride took me 45 minutes at a brisk but not rushed pace. When I drive, I am usually harried by the time I get to the church, having combated offensive drivers and hair-brained maneuvers all along the way. I arrived refreshed and invigorated via bicycle. I have to consider time to take a shower on this end of the journey, as well as when I arrive home in the evening.

WHAT'S SAVED AND ADVANCED. I saved money by cycling to work today. Driving round trip would have consumed at least two gallons @ $3.40+ per gallon. Anything I can do to deny petroleum tycoons a bit of their bloated power makes me feel good. I spared the environment to some extent, and that makes me feel good. I demonstrated to others what is possible as an alternative to driving around on fossil fuel, and that makes me feel good. I also burned excess calories and exercised my cardiovascular system and promoted good health habits, and that makes me feel good.

MOBILITY INTENSITY. I have fewer options for immediate and short-trip mobility by cycling to work. My work requires me to be mobile--to go to hospitals and nursing homes and homes and meetings throughout the day. This is why I am working on clustering these road trips on the same days as much as possible. For instance, Monday and Wednesday are heavy on appointments away from the church office. I drive on Monday and Wednesday. Tuesday and Thursday are planned to be focused at the church facility as much as possible, so I can ride my bike to work on these days. If there is an emergency, I can use a church vehicle as necessary. Friday is my day of rest and recreation. I work at home in the morning, sending in documents for publication for Sunday via e-mail and get out of the house by mid morning. Saturday's a day of visiting, preparation for Sunday, and tying up loose ends. It is the most flexible day of the week. Sunday's a work day for me. I drive to the church early in the morning and I'm usually one of the last people to leave in the afternoon.

GET BEYOND EXCUSES: RIDE FOR GOOD. I'm convinced I and most Americans have too many really poor excuses for not bicycling for things other that pure recreation. We are soft and puny in comparison to commuters in other cultures. It does not make you tough to ride around in a big SUV; it makes you weaker and lamer by the day. We're playing a loser's game at the expense of the poor of the world. I observed thousands of people in India use a bicycle for everything other than recreation. Where there is a will there is a way. I'm sure I can find ways to ride my bike more usefully if I try. What are the possibilities for you? What excuses can you set aside? What barriers do you have the wherewithal and will to overcome?

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