Jan 112024
First Ride of 2024

Today I pedaled along East Bay Drive, smiling because I was riding my bike in the sunshine.

So far this month we’ve had days of rain interspersed with sun and I’ve been getting in some long walks in Squaxin Park. Sometimes in rain, sometimes under overcast skies, sometimes in sunshine I’ve been moving through the forest surrounded by emerald mosses, ferns, bushes and trees. But I haven’t had any real reason to go somewhere by bike. I have a 100% telework schedule unless I choose to go into the office, a privilege I greatly appreciate because it means taking walk breaks in the woods.

Today I had the perfect reason to ride: Going to the capitol to testify to the Senate Transportation Committee about the active transportation grant programs overseen by my division. I don’t write much about work here but I’m proud of our programs and loved the ride not only because the sun shone as I pedaled, but because it was so apropos to ride to this event.

The winter air chilled my lungs, but riding I’m my own heater. I was warm enough in tights, wool socks, boots, a dress, suit jacket, wool overcoat and scarf. The hat I tucked under my helmet had ear flaps to block the breeze. Despite my heavy duty gloves I felt the cold in my fingertips a bit; maybe I’ll need to get out those lobster-claw winter gloves from my Spokane days after all.

When I got to the capitol campus I was delighted to find that I wasn’t the only one undertaking the international icy bike winter commuting challenge today. The octagonal bike parking structure held three or four other bikes. I can’t lift Zelda to hang vertically; those bike parking installations that assume specific physical abilities aren’t truly accessible for all. But I can still lock the frame to the structure and she was there when I came out after the hearing to ride home in the freezing dark, admiring the streaks of light across the water in the bay.

One of the things I love about Olympia and where I ended up living: I can ride from home to work on pretty much 100% bike lanes and quiet streets with very low to zero traffic. Even in downtown I have bike lanes and can choose a route that keeps me on quieter cross streets. Drivers here are generally courteous and leave space when they pass. Good thing, too, since state law requires them to move over a full lane if they can.

TVW recorded the hearing so if you want to know what we talked about you can watch it. The focus was on the programs funded in the Move Ahead Washington 16-year transportation investment package, particularly those that receive funding thanks to the Climate Commitment Act. You’ll learn about WSDOT success in landing federal grants and other programs funded with the Climate Commitment Act if you start at the beginning.

My testimony starts at about 57 minutes in. Be sure to keep playing after my session wraps to hear Lee Lambert, executive director of Cascade Bicycle Club, talk about the school-based bicycle education program my division contracts with them to deliver. Following him, Maria Ramirez of Reconnect South Park talks about their community-led work that got seed money from the Climate Commitment Act that led to getting a federal Reconnecting Communities grant for more work. Bonus points from me to Lee for talking about both his e-bike and his acoustic bike.

Total mileage: 6.5+ miles
Total happiness quotient: 100% because riding always makes me happy

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