Now that fall is here what seemed so easy and natural during the summer may take more effort. Take commuting, for example. Walking, riding a bike or even a scooter makes perfect sense when the sun is shining and the days are long. Will all of our good intentions fade away once the days are short and the skies are gray? I know at least two people who are committed to their alternative modes of transportation and they plan to continue rain or shine.
Chris rides his Lambretta scooter from home in Maple Leaf to work in Ballard everyday. His scooter is 49cc and isn’t designed to go over 30 miles per hour. For a scooter this size (under 50cc) you aren’t required to get a special motorcycle license. It gets 66 miles per gallon which is a definite plus. He can park it much like a bicycle saving time and money. On the con side, this scooter is not a vehicle you want to take on the freeway or even major streets. It only goes about 20 mph uphill so staying on secondary roads is a good idea. Even then, drivers of cars that are slowed down by scooters (and bicycles) tend to get upset. As far as commuting in bad weather, Chris has brightly colored rain gear and a waterproof bag to take extra dry clothes in case he needs them. For now, it sure seems nice to be able to get door-to-door without having to drive a car.
Kimberly works at Children’s Hospital downtown. They have a new program where they are giving bicycles to 100 employees in exchange for a commitment to commute by bike at least 2 days a week. These bikes are top-of-the-line and come complete with fenders, lights, a rack and a helmet — almost everything she needs for commuting (she has to buy her own panniers). They have made it easy for her to store her bike once she gets to work, have showers available and give a bus pass on top of all that. They have loaner bikes for employees to use if they want to bike while at work or to try out commuting by bike before making the commitment.
Neither Chris nor Kimberly seemed too worried about dealing with bad weather. Drivers of cars and their lack of awareness are much more of an issue. For those of us not using alternative transportation, we can help by being extra aware and careful of those who are. Kimberly had a great suggestion — people should be required to ride a bicycle for a year before getting their driver’s license. Nothing like putting yourself in the rider’s seat to see the roads from a different perspective.