January 9, 2008

Small steps

I have a little computer on my bike that tells me how fast I’m going and how far I’ve gone. I don’t pay much attention to it. Most of the time I just have it set to show the clock time. The rides I take are almost always to get me somewhere that I need to be, so how far it is doesn’t really matter, I just need to get there. My trips are almost all just around Issaquah. It’s rare for me to be on the bike for more than a couple of miles at a time.

I point these things out because I get the impression people think of me as some endurance gonzo bicycle guy. And somehow when I tell them that my commute is 2.5 miles each way and I usually mosey along at 10-15mph, they still think I’m one of those standard recreational fitness racer wannabe riders. That is so not me.

The kind of riding I do is the kind that anyone can do. Other than rain gear and my helmet I don’t wear any special bike clothes. I ride slow enough that I don’t get sweaty so I don’t have to change or shower when I get where I’m going.

Which is why I was so surprised when I decided to reset the mileage on my bike computer at the beginning of the year so I could start paying attention to it. It was showing 7900 miles! How’d that happen? Granted I’m not quite sure when I reset it last. I think it was when I got this bike which was almost 7 years ago. So 1100 miles a year? Still sounds like a long ways. But that’s only 21 miles a week. 3 miles a day. I guess it’s not so much after all. Those little trips add up.

January 4, 2008

Reason #3: Wildlife

On my bike ride home from work last night as I passed under SE 56th Street on the Pickering Trail there was an owl sitting on the ground alongside the trail who looked up and silently took off as my glowing bike went by.

I’ve seen foxes and coyotes and deer, raccoons, and possums on that and other trails around town. There are always rabbits. Great blue herons, cedar waxwings, mergansers (common and hooded), lots of different ducks and other birds are common sights and sounds on and near the trails through our town.

Walking or biking is quiet enough that these shy creatures aren’t frightened away. We have the freedom to stop and look when we catch some motion out of the corner of our eyes. These are wonderful reminders of how many wild animals peacefully share our town with us.

January 2, 2008

Reason #2: Shared streets become safer

The more people walk and bike, the safer walking and biking become for everyone.

This counter-intuitive result has been reported various places including a post on the Sightline Institute blog.

The theory is that as bike/ped numbers increase so do drivers’ expectation of encountering them. If drivers are used to seeing people on bikes or walking then they more automatically look out for them.

I like to think that not only do drivers become more cautious of walkers and bikers, they also become more likely to leave their cars parked for short errands adding further to the number of people on the streets and making it even safer for us all.

So when you get around Issaquah under your own power your example makes it both safer and easier for others to do the same.