I'm a little late to this post - we're halfway through May, and it's National Bike-to-Work month. With the seasons (finally!) shifting toward warmer temperatures for the next few months, there’s plenty of opportunity left to take another look at your commute.
How long do you spend in your car looking at bumpers? Like many in the Pacific Northwest, I live about 20 miles from our Redmond office, as the crow flies. Sprawl is made more complex here in Seattle by lots of “water features,” and while a 5am commute takes about 25 minutes, a commute anywhere between 7am and 10am (or between 5pm and 7pm) is going to take from 45 minutes to more than an hour. For me - someone who hates sitting in the I-5 parking lot - this was a no brainer. For work-life balance, anything was better than driving. I bus a lot, but also bike once or more a week all year round.
Sounds hardcore, but I’m no spandexer. I have an entry level mountain bike, and wear street clothes. Until the last couple of months, I was even biking on flat pedals (prior to the fancy clipless ones I inherited from a friend). Very little gear is required, and I highly recommend those that have less than 10 miles commute trying this once or twice this summer. Here’s what you need:
You can get fancier than that, but the complexity of “stuff” can outweigh the enjoyment of just getting on the bike and pedaling. Add equipment like pedals, slick tires (if you’re riding a mountain bike), fenders (for rainy riding) when you decide you’re ready for it. If you don’t want to sweat, I’d suggest planning on keeping about an 8-10mph pace (a quick division calculation using the miles to your office as the numerator can tell you how much time to budget). Depending on your local humidity, your sweat threshold may vary.
My own history: I started bringing my bike to work in 2007, when I worked in downtown Seattle. I would take the bike on the bus, and then ride home at night. Took about an hour and twenty minutes, but two or three times a week meant I exercised a minimum amount during the week, and the green trails took me almost door to door with no traffic stress.
I upgraded my commute options when changed jobs and started commuting to Redmond. The Sammamish River Trail took me straight from Shoreline to Redmond with zero traffic. In my second life as a contingent staffer at Microsoft, I also have access to showers and lockers on the Microsoft campus, a block from our Redmond office. This means I can log almost a couple of hours of exercise a day without taking significantly longer than hopping in my car. Bike down, shower, work all day, bike home. And the views!
Hope to see you out on the trail, and if you’re in Seattle, sign up for the Group Health May commute challenge – you can follow my progress here.
Tags: work life balance, commute, national bike-to-work month, cycling
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