In the last two nights, after work, looking around at the cars around me has reminded me why I try bike commute as often as possible…
Normally I work from 7 AM until 330 PM. I have always been better at an early shift than a late one. If I have extra work to do (as I am salary and don’t get overtime) I just get to work earlier to do it. With Seattle traffic, this shift makes it less bad (not good, but less bad) on those days I do have to drive.
This last Thursday though, I knew I was stuck in downtown until 5 PM. Folks, no lie, from the downtown office to the freeway, about a half mile as the crow flies, if can take an hour to get there, then another hour of stop and go traffic to get the 12 miles to my house.
Knowing this, I sucked it up and dealt with the 21 degree morning temps, and biked to work (See: I am SO glad I sucked it up) I have to tell you, there was a VERY long hot shower in our locker room before I felt my toes again.
Eventually, 5 o’clock rolls around, and I was out the door and heading home. Sure as hell, the traffic heading south from the office (to turn left toward the freeway) was backed up and not moving. I turned right, and headed north in a wide open bike lane.
Just over the rise, I noticed the turn off to get to SR 99, one of the two main North-South routes to and thru Seattle. Yep, backed up all the way to the road I was on. Easily a 15 minute or more wait just to merge into even more gridlock… UGH. I, on the other hand, hit the down hill and cruised to the Fremont Bridge. Luckily it did NOT look like this.
As I crossed, I noticed the surface streets entering and leaving Fremont were backed up as well. Me? The bike lane was again wide open and I passed no less than 30 cars to get to the Burke Gilman trail.
Off in the distance, for the trail, I could see I-5. Yep both north and south, moving at a crawl. I can only imagine how cranky some of the drivers were.
Meanwhile, as always, I was cruising along at 13.5 MPH. No it’s not fast, and never will be. But rain or shine, summer or winter, concert in town, or presidential visit, my commute time rarely changes. I might stop to take a picture
And occasionally I have to pull into a park to use the restroom (try THAT when you are in traffic on a freeway) But otherwise I know how long it will take me to get there. And added bonus, I get home having my work out done, work stress gone and not mad at traffic.
Now, as tough as I am, not EVERY day can be a bike commute day. This was yesterday from the window at work. Yep it was snowing.
As Clint Eastwood once said “A man’s got to know his limitations!”
Riding in this kind of weather would result in a cold, hard crash. Luckily, Michelle and I had already decided to carpool to work in the Lynnwood office that day so we could go out to dinner. Once again, though, getting to work early got us there before the snow and traffic got bad.
Dinner was good, but service mediocre at the Macaroni Grill after work, but we enjoyed just being with each other. On the way home, traffic sucked! Turns out, there was a major accident on N/B I-5 north of us, so there was close to a 9 mile backup. This meant the surface streets we were using to get home were backed up by those trying to get around the back up!
We live only 5 miles away, so even though it took longer, it wasn’t too bad. However, as I drove slowly, I looked at the bike lanes along the way. Had I had two wheels, I would’ve once again flown by the cars on the road. In fact, my normal bike ride home would’ve been unaffected by the crash.
So after all my rambling, here it is in a nutshell. The more people who ride the bike to work, the fewer cars that are on the road. My bike trails can handle 100s more riding to work, which would save those in cars from the stress of riding.
Riding to work would make commuters healthier both mentally and physically. Less sick days, happier dispositions, and, like me, you look forward to the trip home.
Yes you need a bike. The bike needs lights, and especially in the winter months, the right clothes. It takes practice and preparation. But, if you try it, you might like it!
Like the wind!! I am so glad I started almost 4 years ago….