Friday, June 25, 2010

Bike to Work Day

Colorado Bike to Work day was two days ago. It was a perfect day to commute by bicycle ~ sunny and nice, but not too hot. National Bike to Work day was May 21 ~ turns out it was a nice day here, but we've been known to have cold and snow for the national day, so we put it off 'til a little later.

I spent my day hanging out at the large bike-to-work-day expo for a couple hours, having a couple more breakfasts at some other stations on my way to work, riding back downtown to hang out at the bike home from work event, stopping for dinner on the way home where I sat and wrote for longer than I expected to.

Whenever my commute by car takes longer than it usually does, I tend to get just a little stressed. Like many of us, I'd just as soon be doing what I need to do instead of sitting in traffic. And so I was somewhat surprised that on Wednesday, when my commute took much longer than it usually does, I found that I was much more relaxed. Maybe this isn't a surprise to my seven readers, and maybe it shouldn't have been to me.

What happened to me was that instead of just wishing I could get to where I was going sooner, I actually enjoyed the journey. Now I commute by bicycle somewhat regularly ~ at least once a week in the summer all the way to the office, and all year long on the days where I work from coffee houses and bookstores within a five mile radius of my house ~ but bike to work day, with all its intentionality, emphasized for me the importance of slowing down and appreciating the journey.

Naturally, the trails and bike lanes were busier on Wednesday than they usually are. It wasn't too problematic ~ I only had to slow down because of bike traffic a couple times ~ but I wonder what it would be like if that many people biked to work every day. A big disincentive would be that the free breakfast stations are only open one day a year. But I'm certain that we'd be a healthier and happier society if we'd get a little more exercise, and if we didn't isolate ourselves from each other in our mobile steel and glass cages. Plus (obviously) we as a country would be less dependent on foreign sources of oil and gas if more of our fuel could be purchased at the grocery store or grown in back yard gardens.

The bike path I take to the church building affords me a clear view of one major highway in the Denver metro area. I feel a little guilty about this, but I was almost happy to see traffic at a dead stop on the interstate while I was traveling easily and quickly with a clear path to where I was going. I'd love it if most days were bike to work days for most people, and I'd love it if we had one day a year that was 'drive to work day', so we could remind ourselves what it's like to sit in traffic while our blood pressure and the pollution levels both increase unnecessarily.

If only bike to work day could expand beyond just one day a year. What would it be like if bike paths became so crowded on a regular basis that the governments has to close some streets to automobile traffic to accommodate but bicycle commuters?


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