Becoming a Bike Commuter, Part II: A Few More Miles
At some point after becoming someone who rides her bike to work occasionally, I became a bike commuter. An every day, rain or shine, clipped-in-shoes, road-bike-riding commuter.
No more swapping stuff in and out of panniers—it’s always in the bag (now a cute one) if it’s riding season (which is at least 10 months of the year here, if you dress for the weather). Hassle factor gone.
The road bike and shoes were thanks to my sweet road-riding husband. When we started dating it was January, so my Costco special wasn’t much of an issue. When it got nice and we started riding some weekend distances, he was kind and patient. (I later learned that our pace is referred to as a recovery ride….)
Then he found my Specialized Dolce road bike and brought it home. Once I rode the 18-pound sweetie, I was hooked.
We loaded it up as a commuter with racks, lights, and fenders, which I suppose makes a “real roadie” cringe, but I’m not big on defining people as “real” riders or “not real”.
I can easily put in 10-20 miles a day riding from work at the Riverpoint Campus to meetings and errands everywhere from downtown to the Spokane Valley to the north side, or just my little 2.5 miles each way to and from work. (We moved and I’m a mile closer. Right after we moved, the city put in a bike lane a block from the house. I’ll just keep moving around town until we have a full bike network.)
When the snow gets too heavy (we had two crazy winters in a row), I ride the bus. (My road bike can’t take studded tires, and I worry about drivers sliding into me.)
But even in those years with crazy-deep snow, I was able to ride my bike every month of the year, finding days with open, dry roads in December, January, and February. I just don’t drive if I can help it.
Along the way I became a bike activist. I founded and chaired Spokane Bikes (formerly Bike to Work Spokane), served on the City of Spokane Bicycle Advisory Board, and on the leadership team of SmartRoutes Spokane (our participation in the Rails to Trails Conservancy 2010 Campaign). I joined the Bicycle Alliance of Washington and the League of American Bicyclists.
I also began adapting my wardrobe to make it easy to ride in everything in my closet.
I remind people that I don’t “use alternative transportation” when I bike or bus—I make a transportation choice. Each of us makes a choice every single day when we go out the door.
Choice #2: Hop on bike. Burn calories per mile instead of miles per gallon. Breathe fresh air. Greet neighbors. Smell flowers, green growing things, running water, roasting coffee, wonderful aromas from local restaurants. See–actually see–the architecture of local buildings. Arrive at work energized. When a midday meeting beckons, ride, lock bike to convenient signpost, walk in, sit down; you’re ready to go while the drivers circle the block.
Remember that feeling when you learned to ride a bike as a kid? Riding a bike meant freedom, independence, the ability to get somewhere under your own power instead of relying on others to supply the resources.
It still does. Wheeee!
- If you’re still an occasional rider, can you foresee going through more evolution to become an everyday commuter?
- If you’re an everyday commuter, would you ever go back?