Thursday, May 20, 2010

Why ‘Bike to Work Day’ is every day for me

by guest blogger Noel Brady

Noel Brady on his bike in Seattle.
There are two things that get me excited this time of year – one, it’s music-festival season and time to break out my 3-year-old son’s protective, DJ-style earmuffs; and two – the days are longer, the mornings are warmer and drier and there’s a quiet hill between my house and my office that makes riding my bike feel like flying an F-16.

Friday is Bike to Work Day across the country, but nowhere is it such an auspicious occasion than right here in Washington State, which for the third year in a row was named the nation’s most “Bicycle-Friendly State” by the League of American Bicyclists. Let’s face it – two-wheel travel is as much a part of life in the Northwest as soy lattes, megabytes and power-chord distortion. Last year, WSDOT volunteers counted 4,158 cycling commuters in a morning rush hour in 25 towns and cities across the state. It was the second annual bike and pedestrian count for the Washington State Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project.

So why are so many people burning their thighs instead of gasoline, you ask? Where should I start? When I wake up half alive and head out the door to my WSDOT office in Seattle’s Pioneer Square, exercise is about the last thing on my mind. But after I click into my pedals and cruise just a couple blocks, I feel my blood begin to flow. When I pass the fruit stand, I’m in the zone, and my legs are pumping themselves. By the time I clear that hill, make it across the railroad tracks and past the stadiums, I’m fully charged – and I’m not even a morning person.

I spent years riding bikes in high school and college. I even served time as a messenger in Richmond, VA. But seven years ago, I hung my bike from the basement ceiling and bought a motorcycle. I rode that old 750cc Honda to work every day until a few months ago when the engine finally blew. It was tough to let it go, but I don’t think about it much anymore. These days my ride to work is as important, if not more, than my first cup of coffee.

But energy and exercise aren’t the only reasons I became a true believer. The more people bike to work, the fewer vehicles in the rush-hour mess. And it’s great for the planet, just about the best way to get from place to place without spraying CO2 into the air. It isn’t bad on your wallet, either. In large urban areas, the League of American Bicyclists says, you can save more than $200 a month on parking alone, not to mention the arms and legs you save at the pump.

Why not consider this Bike to Work Day the first day of the new and improved you. Turn your commute into your passion and do something for yourself and the planet.

Local Bike to Work Day events

Commuting with your bike