Locomotion in its various forms, walking, kayaking, biking, skiing, hiking, swimming, are activities I’ve always loved and feel eager about including in my life. Biking through city traffic? Not so much.
But I wanted to do something, even a small thing, in regard to fossil fuel consumption. My husband takes this seriously and commutes through the city to work nearly every day. That I can’t match, partly because my work hasn’t accommodated it, and, truthfully, because I’m not prepared to ride the steep hills through downtown traffic, at least not yet.
I can, however, ride my bike to and from errands in my own neck of the woods. I’ve been doing that and feel smug as can be whenever I do. For those who’ve been biking around the neighborhood for ages, you’re way ahead of me and you’ve been an inspiration. Friend Judy, for example. Sports and the outdoors have always been a part of my life, but inexplicably I’m just getting on track with the bike-commuting thing, experiencing the satisfaction of saving a little fuel, a few bucks and getting a mini-workout on the way.
Three favorite grocery stores within 3.5 miles of my house is a pretty easy gig. There’s a long, upward grade on the way. My bags are empty so that’s ideal. On the way back it’s one big downhill glide. The surprise is that the round trip takes maybe half an hour, about fifteen minutes longer than the same shopping trip by car. I figure if I can hop on my bike instead of behind the wheel just once a week let’s say, save the 7 miles of gas times 52 weeks, theoretically speaking I’ll have saved 364 miles in a year. No comparison with the 200 miles Bob rides each month, but it’s a start. Short bike commutes.
So I’m thinking about sustainable actions, one step, one pedal at a time that collectively speaking add up to significant change. Small individual actions times thousands of others doing the same, like a lot more of us turning on our own internal combustion engines for the globe, the pocketbook, the bod. (Obviously, this is a message for us slackers who’ve taken a little time to jump on the short bike commute bandwagon – plenty of people caught on a while ago.)
Coincidentally NPR did a piece today on the electric bike and what a godsend it is for commuters who want to ride, but live in cities with formidable hillscapes like Seattle and San Francisco. And they didn’t portray the electric bike riders as wimps at all, but as conscientious commuters who are using their bikes more often when they have a nudge over steep hills. I have two friends with electric bikes, both of them fit and athletic, who love how it’s expanded their bike-commuting potential. This NPR feature is worth a listen if you’re interested, Electric Bikes Remove Strain of Riding.