Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Trading four wheels in for two

By Bart Treece

The MV Samish sees plenty of bike commuters
on its run between Anacortes and
the San Juan Islands.
Each cyclist on the street has a different story as to why they decided to saddle up and use pedal-power to get from point a to point b. It may be for the pure joy of the ride, a romanticism of the roadway via two-wheeled transport. Others, it may be to incorporate more physical activities to improve or maintain their health.  And some believe they are doing their part to reduce urban congestion by removing themselves from the driver's seat. It's personal. Regardless of the reason, their common bond is that they are playing a greater role in the transportation picture.

For me, it was a gradual shift that was sparked by riders I'd see on Dexter Avenue in Seattle about five years ago. I had been a runner, but there were fewer opportunities to exercise with a new baby in the house. My blood pressure was also on a steady incline, and my doctor had warned me that a prescription may be needed if this trend continued. To fix this, I did a little math and figured that for the time I spend in the car commuting, I could make the same trip riding and get two workouts in a day. Encouraged by a close friend and coworker, I went all in and bought a bike. Just from the commutes I've tracked, (I've missed logging the occasional ride), I've pedaled just over 7,500 miles to-and-from work and my blood pressure is now normal.

WSDOT employees look forward to Bike to Work Day every year. This year's is on Friday, May 20.
Commuting
Ideal outdoor weather in the Pacific Northwest crescendos in the spring and peaks in the summertime, leaving a mixed bag for us to try to plan around during the rest of the year. This is why May is a perfect time for Bike Month, where everyone is encouraged to give cycling a spin – not just biking to work, but #BikeEverywhere. It may not be realistic to incorporate biking into your everyday transportation repertoire, but when you use this option, it helps keep people moving with the reduction of that vehicle from the roadway.

Bart Treece began biking to work for health
reasons and has pedaled more than
7,500 miles to his job since then.
Street smarts
If you have yet to take the plunge and commute by bike, consider trying it on Friday, May 20, Bike to Work Day across the nation. And if you do, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Know the rules of the road – Cyclists riding on the street have all the rights and responsibilities as the driver of a motor vehicle. You can find more details on our Washington State Bicycle Laws webpage.
  • Set yourself up for success – Be comfortable on a bike, and make sure your ride is in good working order and you have the proper safety gear. If it's been awhile, take it into your friendly neighborhood bike shop for a checkup.
  • Know your route – Many cities have bike lanes and paths that make riding easier and safer. There are some maps on our website, but you should also check locally to see what's available. A seasoned bike-commuting coworker is also a good resource.

What you may discover through this is that bike commuting can become addictive, and those who are hooked have often pedaled through puddles during the rainy season to get their fix. Whatever you decide, please remember that regardless if you use four wheels or two, we all have a stake in keeping people moving. Have fun, and share the road safely.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

When will bicyclists pay some taxes for their use of the public roadways?

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