Bike Style Life

Beating the Bus, and Other Bicycling Benefits

Close-up of a permanent bike counter showing 50,000 rides tallied so far.

The bike counter I pass on the West Seattle Bridge on my way to work. I’m such a transportation nerd – I always look back to make sure it counted me. It always does.

Today’s riding had many of the experiences I appreciate about bicycling.

The genuine health benefits of riding 8.5 miles to work. My ride to work gives me around 45 minutes of the 60 minutes per day adults should get, while getting me to work in a little less time then riding the bus would take.

The ease of combining modes to flatten hills and shorten time when I needed to make it to an appointment. (Never believe yourself when you’re saying, “Just one more email.” It always takes longer than you think.)

I biked to the International District Link Light Rail station, hopped on the train that arrived two minutes after I did, then rode from the Capitol Hill station to my destination five minutes away.

I got a kick out of this lineup by the bike rack at my destination: Papa Bear (too big), Mama Bear (too small), and my Baby Bear (just right).

The ease of adding a quick stop without having the hassle of finding a parking place, maybe having to circle blocks in heavy traffic. After my appointment I realized I was three minutes by bike from Trader Joe’s.

If you’re honest with yourself you’ll recognize that you’re never three minutes away from anything in a car. (Remember, factor in the total transportation time pre/post parking.)

The joy of feeling like a happy kid. It’s just fun. The same stretch of road that would feel very frustrating if I got impatient about having cars in front of me is a joy when I’m on my bike going downhill grinning and feeling the wind in my face. The bike lane down Pine helps a lot with this.

Being able to notice things around me. Among other features of Pine, it has a lot of people walking who need to cross the street. I appreciated the courtesy and care of the UPS truck driver in the lane next to mine, who stopped for every person who wanted to cross. And because I was on my bike I could also comment on this to the rider behind me and we could share a moment of appreciation while we waited for someone to finish crossing at a corner.

You can’t see the groceries (except for the baguette sticking out) but they’re in there.

A little urban race. When I got into downtown to the corner of 3rd and Pine near a stop for my bus home it was just pulling in. Not enough time to catch up, unload two bags off the bike, and load on the bus.

No problem! The bus driver has to stop to load passengers, after all. I don’t. I hesitated for a minute or two thinking about whether I wanted to run one more errand and wait for the next bus, but dinner was calling.

I dashed past the bus, dropped down a block to the 2nd Avenue protected bike lane, and thanks to the timing of the bike traffic signals could shoot most of the hill down to Pioneer Square (slowing appropriately for the hotel entrances along the way) and get to the stop I usually use. With five minutes to spare, no less, not counting my thinking time.

These are all reasons I ride. I know I often compare bicycling to driving and driving doesn’t hold up well. I used to drive a lot. I used to like to drive. But if I think about today’s transportation needs — get to work, run errands all over, make my way through heavy city traffic — I can’t imagine feeling any of the happiness or satisfaction I feel now if I had used a car.

I’m incredibly lucky to be able to experience the joy of bicycling. And beating the bus.

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The quest for the intersection of Style and Comfort