First — if any of the people from my Aikido dojo are reading this — I will be back at practice Monday night. Yes, at last. I think my knee is good enough to return.
This last week, on Thursday and Friday, I finally rode my bike to work. I’ve been trying to do it for the last month, but every day I didn’t need my car to get to drawing class or some other errand we had thunder storm.
Well, May is National Bike to Work Month, and finally I had a day that was all-systems-go.
With my bike all set up for commuting, I packed my work clothes and lunch in the panniers and set off. I’ve been reading advice for safe bike commuting for several months and I tried to put some of it into practice.
My commute is really nice. About 50% is on dedicated bike trails. Getting to the bike trail is all neighborhood streets. There is one short stretch where I do, in fact, ride on the sidewalk. It’s on a busy street, and really, as alert as you have to be on the sidewalk, it is just necessary.
I’ve found that at intersections, the best strategy seems to be to take the lane. If you are over on the right, drivers will not give you a break. They may not even see you. So I arrange things so at a red light I can patiently get in the lane behind the first or second car. At all of my intersections, once I’m through I’m either back on bike path, neighborhood street, or the parking lot of a mall.
The secrets seem to be patience, vigilance, and knowing when to assert your traffic rights without putting yourself in danger. It seems funny to put so much thought into it, since as teenagers my friends and I used to ride bikes all over the place and it was pretty easy.
The truth is, it is still easy. The ride to work is really pleasant. It takes 37 minutes, and when I get to work I’m awake, alert, and ready to work. A few minutes to cool down, a quick freshen-up and change of clothes, and I’m ready to go.
I was really inspired to start this by several factors. First, my friends Sean and Chrissy commute by bike a lot. If they can do it, so can I. Also, the need for exercise. Every day I ride, I get over an hour of exercise and 15 miles of riding. I actually got back on my bike in the first place to strengthen my hurt knee, and it has helped a lot. Gas prices — going to keep going up. It is cheaper to ride. It is better for you. And finally, as part of the Sustainability Committee at work, I’ve been wanting to do this for a while. Put my money where my mouth is, so to speak.
I realize there will be days when I do, in fact, need my car. But I think that at least 3 days a week I can ride.
Anyway, if you can, give bike commuting a try.