Archive for October, 2011

October 31, 2011

Becoming a Bike Commuter, Part II: A Few More Miles

My idea of bikewear has . . . evolved a bit since my early days of riding.

At some point after becoming someone who rides her bike to work occasionally, I became a bike commuter. An every day, rain or shine, clipped-in-shoes, road-bike-riding commuter.

No more swapping stuff in and out of panniers—it’s always in the bag (now a cute one) if it’s riding season (which is at least 10 months of the year here, if you dress for the weather). Hassle factor gone.

The road bike and shoes were thanks to my sweet road-riding husband. When we started dating it was January, so my Costco special wasn’t much of an issue. When it got nice and we started riding some weekend distances, he was kind and patient. (I later learned that our pace is referred to as a recovery ride….)

Then he found my Specialized Dolce road bike and brought it home. Once I rode the 18-pound sweetie, I was hooked.

We loaded it up as a commuter with racks, lights, and fenders, which I suppose makes a “real roadie” cringe, but I’m not big on defining people as “real” riders or “not real”.

I can easily put in 10-20 miles a day riding from work at the Riverpoint Campus to meetings and errands everywhere from downtown to the Spokane Valley to the north side, or just my little 2.5 miles each way to and from work. (We moved and I’m a mile closer. Right after we moved, the city put in a bike lane a block from the house. I’ll just keep moving around town until we have a full bike network.)

When the snow gets too heavy (we had two crazy winters in a row), I ride the bus. (My road bike can’t take studded tires, and I worry about drivers sliding into me.)

But even in those years with crazy-deep snow, I was able to ride my bike every month of the year, finding days with open, dry roads in December, January, and February. I just don’t drive if I can help it.

Along the way I became a bike activist. I founded and chaired Spokane Bikes (formerly Bike to Work Spokane), served on the City of Spokane Bicycle Advisory Board, and on the leadership team of SmartRoutes Spokane (our participation in the Rails to Trails Conservancy 2010 Campaign). I joined the Bicycle Alliance of Washington and the League of American Bicyclists.

I made a final transition to go “back” a step. I stopped wearing bike shoes and locking my feet to my pedals because that too represented a hassle, and I now ride in any kind of shoe. My pedals have an SPD clip on one side, a regular platform on the other, representing my dual identity.

I also began adapting my wardrobe to make it easy to ride in everything in my closet.

I remind people that I don’t “use alternative transportation” when I bike or bus—I make a transportation choice. Each of us makes a choice every single day when we go out the door.

A bike runs on fat and saves you money. A car runs on money and makes you fat.Choice #1: Carry car keys. Park keister behind the steering wheel of a single occupancy something that uses a nonrenewable fuel. Drive (40% of all trips are within two miles of the home). At end of trip, circle the block looking for a parking spot as close as possible to the destination door, to minimize walking. Pay for every element of this choice, from the fuel to the parking-and while you’re at it, pay for a gym membership to get some exercise.

Choice #2: Hop on bike. Burn calories per mile instead of miles per gallon. Breathe fresh air. Greet neighbors. Smell flowers, green growing things, running water, roasting coffee, wonderful aromas from local restaurants. See–actually see–the architecture of local buildings. Arrive at work energized. When a midday meeting beckons, ride, lock bike to convenient signpost, walk in, sit down; you’re ready to go while the drivers circle the block.

Remember that feeling when you learned to ride a bike as a kid? Riding a bike meant freedom, independence, the ability to get somewhere under your own power instead of relying on others to supply the resources.

Your Turn

  • If you’re still an occasional rider, can you foresee going through more evolution to become an everyday commuter?
  • If you’re an everyday commuter, would you ever go back?
October 30, 2011

Becoming a Bike Commuter, Part I: It’s Easy, One Mile at a Time

My early vision of what it meant to dress for a bike ride. (I still dress this way for a ride like this one to Coeur d'Alene and back--84 miles on a sunny day.)

True story: I’m a bicycle commuter because in around 2003, the City of Spokane put a bike path on Cedar, right in front of the house I lived in at the time. After complaining a bit about the lost on-street parking, I realized how convenient it looked.

(Irony alert) I used my car’s odometer to figure out how far it was to work, and started riding my big-box cheapo special, the “Iron Maiden,” a little bit, then a little bit more.

At first my bike commuting took place within strict parameters: very nice weather but not too hot, no meetings outside my office scheduled that day, no after-work events.

Before bike commuting on the selected day, I’d drive the 3.5 miles to work (downhill, then flat) with a couple of outfits and leave them there, and just take my shoes with me in the pannier bag.

Of course, I’d have a little wardrobe agony of the soul figuring out what to leave at work. After all, I wouldn’t be able to change my mind about what I felt like wearing, nor would those outfits be available to me at home on days I planned to drive.

I also underwent the back and forth of moving items such as my wallet with identification, notebook, and other things into and out of the panniers and whatever purse I wanted to carry.

I moved from this “once in a while” commuting to biking “pretty often,” including some slightly longer recreational outings on weekends, when I would amaze myself by going 8 miles or more.

Mind you, this was all on a Costco special: a heavy-duty quasi-mountain bike thing with shocks. It probably weighed 50 pounds before I put on the rack and panniers. So I actually was pushing a fair amount of metal.

And, as I like to point out, it was very definitely uphill on the way home. The first time I tried bike commuting Spokane was experiencing unusually hot weather, 105 degrees or so, in mid-July. Great time to start.

At the time I lived at 13th and Cedar. I hit the steep spot on Maple between 6th and 8th—locals will know exactly what spot I mean—and I had to get off and start pushing the bike uphill.

Some wit (at least, I think I’m half right) said, “Aren’t you supposed to be riding that thing?” I panted, “I have nothing to prove!” and kept pushing.

It became a point of pride to make it just a little farther up that hill each time I rode, until at long last came the day when I actually rode all the way home.

Woohoo! Feel the burn, and the sense of accomplishment.

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • What do you remember most about your early days of riding your bike for transportation?
October 29, 2011

Making Soup–Er, Bike Networks

Mia Birk, the author of Joyride: Pedaling Toward A Healthier Planet who will be speaking at WSU Pullman next week, wrote a blog post a while back, “The Bikeway Network Recipe.” She describes several communities, all of which took different routes to achieve increased levels of bike infrastructure and bike use.

Birk concludes that the specifics matter less than simply getting under way and moving quickly. (Kind of like a bike ride, when you think about it—the sooner you start riding the sooner you arrive.)

I’d like to extend the recipe analogy a little more. I make a lot of soup, especially this time of year, because it’s easy to include lots and lots of veggies and healthy grains and beans, it helps me use up leftovers although I can also just start from scratch, it freezes well for lunches, and my whole family is crazy about soup, although of course each person has his or her favorite.

I generally just start with whatever I have on hand. That could be leftovers or it could be a trip to pantry and freezer and a little cooking to prep some kind of grain/protein ingredient such as quinoa, rice or barley.

In thinking about Spokane’s recipe for bike infrastructure I conclude that we are making soup.

Cutting board with knives, open cansStarting with what we have on hand: This is where every improvisational recipe bike network has to start.

Including healthy ingredients: That’s kind of a no-brainer when you’re talking about riding a bike.

Using up leftovers: In a manner of speaking, yes. People on bikes often get the leftovers: the bit of shoulder or lane the driver doesn’t occupy (that day. You hope.).

This is also true in the positive sense of the word. Out of some “leftover” asphalt and paint you can create something wonderful by giving someone on a bike a travel lane.

The cost of adding bike infrastructure elements to a street project is mere pennies on the dollar, in return for which you get transportation that doesn’t create any wear and tear on the roads.

Street engineers will tell you that it isn’t coming up with money for new construction that’s the hardest part of the budget–it’s the maintenance. So a little bit of infrastructure that lets them reduce the hit to the budget and still move people? Magic.

To me this is the strongest parallel to the soup-making process. A magical transformation takes place when you chop up onions, potatoes, and other vegetables, choose some seasonings from the spice drawer, and throw in some leftover rice. Out of elements that others might not have thought of in quite this way you have created something wonderful that people appreciate.

But it doesn’t happen if you don’t start, and it doesn’t happen without any ingredients.

Tomato soup in potStarting from scratch: We need to do this too. In the case of something like the Centennial Trail or the Fish Lake Trail, people had the vision and put together the ingredients to create a new treat for everyone.

Creating something useful both in the short term and in the long run (like the leftovers that remain after a good dinner): Absolutely. In the short term we are piecing together individual stretches of bike lanes and other markings and signage that in the long run will come together in a connected network that provides access across the city.

When you’re in mid-soup sometimes it doesn’t taste like much. In similar fashion the appearance of short stretches of bike lanes in downtown might not appear to represent a huge step forward—it doesn’t take us all the way from raw veggies to soup. But given time those stretches of bike lane will get connected.

The important thing is to remember the goal and stay focused on making soup. Sometimes you don’t have quite the right mix of ingredients and you need to add a little balsamic vinegar or garlic (always garlic). The way the soup changes as the ingredients come together draws on a cook’s skills to keep adapting along the way.

Making different kinds of soup for different people: This will be essential to the long-term growth of bike riding in Spokane. We are not a one-soup-fits-all town.

The “fast and fearless”—those of us who know how to take the lane and who will assert our right to use the road for transportation—get out and ride with only minimal ingredients at hand.

The “interested but concerned” need the support of a more fully detailed recipe that takes into account their allergies (say, to close encounters with careless drivers) and special dietary needs (wayfinding, for example, to encourage the use of bikes on the short trips of 1-2 miles that constitute the majority of U.S. transportation trips).

The “no way no how” people just don’t like soup. But that’s no reason the rest of us can’t have our soup and ride it too.

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • Have a better metaphor? Do tell!
October 28, 2011

That Was No Accident

Did anyone promise you driving would be 100% problem-free when you were going through driver’s ed? Nope. They told you that the skills they were teaching you would help make you a safer driver, that’s all. Life, slippery streets, and inattentive people with cellphones abound whether you or they are moving around on two wheels, four wheels, or feet.

You drive anyway despite all the well-documented risks, don’t you? (Probably walk, too, and pedestrian injury/incident rates are nothing to sneeze at.)

(Side note: My darling Second Daughter finished driver’s ed this summer and we now have to rack up all those hours in the car before she can take the driver’s test so I have to look for excuses to drive–ugh. She biked to driver’s ed class. House Irony, that’s us.)

Those driver’s ed instructors might have added that we can’t completely get rid of the idiots on the streets so that’s why we all need to stay alert and follow the rules.

Looking at statistics on bike-related injuries, it’s quite clear that a critical piece of equipment is the major cause in many collisions: The nut that connects the handlebars to the seat.

Before you go look at your bike and try to figure out where that is, take a long hard look in the mirror. You’re the nut.

Operator error creates problems for new bike commuters the same way it does for new drivers. That’s why you need to do some homework, take some practice rides, and know the rules of the road.

Much of what you worry about can be prevented if you ride predictably and visibly and follow rules of the road so drivers know where you are and what to expect. 

The League of American Bicyclists provides a good page on the basics of riding safely. A brief recap:
  • Follow the rules of the road! You are a vehicle. Ride in the same direction as traffic, not against it; obey traffic signs and lights; and signal your intentions.
  • Be visible. Your riding behavior is key here–ride where drivers can see you. Have adequate lighting (white on front, red in back), especially important now that dusk falls earlier and the sun seems to be oversleeping a bit in the morning.
  • Be predictable. Ride in a straight line; don’t duck in and out of “safer” spaces adjacent to the street like empty curbside parking spots and sidewalks.
  • Anticipate conflicts. Be mindful of your surroundings and choose positions that reduce conflicts. I watched my friend Rider #1 tuck himself between a car and the curb at an intersection where that driver may have been planning to turn right–the perfect recipe for a right-hook collision that would have been created by the rider, not the driver.
  • Wear a helmet. No, it doesn’t prevent collisions. What it prevents is a higher rate of head injuries if you’re involved in a collision. You only have one brain. And in the city of Spokane, it’s the law. Check your local ordinances.

The good news: Both cyclist and pedestrian injury and death rates have been falling, according to data tracked by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Stay safe out there!

Related Reading

Your Turn
  • Do you follow these recommendations when you ride?
  • If you have kids, have you taught them bicycle safety rules and do you model good behavior when you ride with them?
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October 26, 2011

Wednesday Words: Bicycle Quotations on Women, Fashion, and Emancipation

Some of these are oldies but goodies that you’ll find on other sites—others are freshly picked.

Women, Fashion, and Emancipation

Don’t be afraid of going fast and getting hurt. You can always wear black stockings to cover up the scars! —Marla Streb; spotted at Pedal Panties

Let us now observe a moment of silence for the shiny Lycra stretch pants and neon nylon windbreakers that have been considered, for the past ten years, de rigueur for anyone traveling on two wheels…. A hot-pink boa works as well as a lime-green Gortex windbreaker to make you visible on the road. —Jennifer Worley, The New Colonist

The bicycle . . . has been more responsible for more movement in manners and morals than anything since Charles the Second . . . Under its influence have blossomed, wholly or in part, weekends, strong nerves, strong legs, strong language . . . equality of sex, good digestion and professional occupation—in four words, the emancipation of women. —Novelist John Galsworthy

[T]he bicycle will accomplish more for women’s sensible dress than all the reform movements that have ever been waged.  —Author Unknown, from Demerarest’s Family Magazine, 1895

“What shall we wear?” is a query rising from every channel of woman’s life: for upon each occasion we must be suitably clad to enjoy its peculiar benefits. This is especially noticeable for such exercise as bicycling, for, in this case, it is not only a matter of appearing well, but the health, the comfort and safety demand a carefully selected costume and equipment. —From The Ladies Standard Magazine, April 1894

Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman on a wheel. It gives a woman a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. —Susan B. Anthony, New York World, February 2, 1896

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October 25, 2011

Bike Commuting Manners: Is a Smile or a Nod Too Much to Ask?

Cover illustration for the book Quest for Good Manners

This illustration is from, a book by Karen Lefranc. Try your local bookstore or buy on Amazon (affiliate link). Administer to bike riders as needed. (I haven't read it--I just liked the title and the cover.)

This was going to be another rant about Rider #1, the guy I chicked recently. See, I chicked him again Monday morning, same way as last time (by taking a different route to the same point).

He whooshed past me with no verbal warning, ignoring my cheery “Good morning!” as he whizzed down Southeast Boulevard just below 14th riding with Lance Armstrong-approved cadence, knees nicely tucked in, racer focus written on his face. (I know what that looks like because Sweet Hubs races with Spokane Rocket Velo.)

Do you know this man? He’s white, perhaps in his 30s, built like a bike racer. When he got to work this morning sometime after 8:15 a.m., possibly in the downtown core, he was wearing bright blue bike tights (you look like Superman, man), black shorts, a red jacket, and a backpack.

This is a small town, so surely one of you knows him and can say, “Hey, man, is it too much to ask that you just let the lady on the bike with the Donkey Boxx who rides on Southeast Boulevard know that you’re passing on the left? She’s writing about you. And you may want to pick a different route to work because apparently she keeps passing you on Division. Don’t underestimate the skirt and high heels.”

My mother raised me to respond to greetings in kind. If someone says “hello” or “good morning” you respond, even if you’re wearing your grumpy pants at that particular moment.

Sweet Hubs tells me I need to let this go because some people say hi and some people don’t. He’s right, but…. Let’s make this about safety instead of manners, although I think it’s about both.

In the bike world, many of us—obviously not all—call out when coming up on someone from behind. This isn’t about being my best buddy. It’s about letting me know you’re there.

If I hadn’t heard his whooshing from behind me this morning I wouldn’t have known he was there. A startled cyclist (particularly a beginner, although I’m not one) can be an unsafe cyclist.

If a squirrel had run out in front of me or I’d swerved suddenly to avoid a tree limb or nest of pine cones—things that happen often riding in a Tree City USA—I would have maneuvered quickly around the hazard, much to his unpleasant surprise.

With a clear signal that someone’s coming up from behind I can make choices about whether I go left or right to avoid a hazard.

This is equally true whether I’m riding on city streets, bike lanes, or separated paths. The Centennial Trail can be full of hazardous interactions that leave you muttering like a crabby driver in rush hour traffic, or you can ride courteously and let people know you’re coming with a cheery “Passing on your left!” or a ring of your bell.

So it’s not about my need for social interaction, it’s about your safety, Mr. Can’t Be Bothered to Say Good Morning.

When I last saw Grumpy Pants (other than in my rearview mirror on Division at Sprague—ha!), he had moved over into the far left lane on northbound Division and probably took the left turn onto Spokane Falls Boulevard. This was sometime between 8:15-8:30 a.m.

Say hi to him for me, will you? And let me know if he says anything in return.

Your Turn

  • Do you say hello to riders you meet or pass? Why or why not?
  • Do you know this man?
October 24, 2011

Capturing Bike Beauty and Inspiration: Adventure Cycling’s Bike Travel Photo Contest

Eric Abbott and Barb Chamberlain on a bike ride.

On a local bike adventure with my sweetheart: a ride of around 84 miles to Coeur d'Alene and back summer 2010. Stopped at the Liberty Lake Starbucks to say hi to the Belles and Baskets ladies and friend Angie Feser took this photo.

I have yet to venture forth for any “adventure cycling” beyond Tour des Lacs a few years ago and the adventure that awaits when we go bikespeditioning for treats and shopping, but I can’t wait to see the beautiful photos that will be submitted to the upcoming 3rd Annual Bicycle Travel Photo Contest from Adventure Cycling.

They’re looking for beautiful photography representing the beauty, inspiration, and spirit of bike touring. Original images in digital format, capturing all aspects of bike travel, are eligible for the competition. Deadline is November 30.

Adventure Cycling is especially interested in images that showcase the wide range of bike-touring experiences: road and dirt riding, rural and urban settings, scenery, people, and their emotions. For some examples, check out the “Adventure Cyclist” feature (PDF format) on last year’s winners.

The winner’s image will be printed in the February 2012 issue of Adventure Cyclist magazine, reaching over 50,000 people worldwide. The image will also be featured on Adventure Cycling’s Website, which is visited by more than a million people annually. The first-place winner will also receive a two-year membership with Adventure Cycling and a $100 gift certificate for the Cyclosource store.

Enter the contest today. Katherine Widing, a bike travel writer who lives in Spokane, and Wilma Flanagan of Belles and Baskets who went to The Netherlands this summer, how about it?

Your Turn

  • Have you done any bike touring? Where did you go and what was it like? Going again?
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October 23, 2011

Cutest Dress You’ll Ever Sweat In: I Heart Nuu-Muus & Ruu-Muus

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My product review of Nuu-Muus/Ruu-Muus is long overdue, given how many times I rave about them and show Betsy or myself in one on a bikespedition or at an event.

Some of the reasons I love them:

  • The silky, body-skimming fabric is wonderful on your skin and utterly forgiving of lumps, bumps, and bulges.
  • The fabric choices generally are “busy” patterns. Busy in a good way, that is. I tend toward pretty conservative solids and small patterns in my work clothing but have learned that their choices are great for distracting the eye and further disguising said lumps, bumps, and bulges.
  • They dry in a flash whether wet from sweat or from a quick swish in the sink while you’re traveling–always ready to wear the next day. Friends have taken them to Italy and The Netherlands and report that in humid weather when nothing else would dry, the Nuu or Ruu was ready to rock.
  • The Ruu-Muu pocket is especially handy. Not just for biking, when you might want to stash arm warmers or sunglasses for weather changes, but for tennis balls, golf balls, and other athletic stuff–or for your car keys if you’re wearing it to the grocery store. No more fishing in your purse!
  • They’re well-made, made in the US, and last a long time. Betsy and I each have one we purchased around five years ago and they’re still going strong with no signs of wear–and believe me, we wear them like crazy!
  • I’m thrilled that when I sell them I’m supporting a woman-owned business right here in my home state of Washington. So many great products I’ve found, like Po Campo bags and Pedal Panties, are the result of women who ride together, identify a gap in the existing bike products line-up, and create something made just for us. These aren’t the result of a focus group–they’re from the heart.

Betsy in a Bluebelle Ruu-Muu (size XS).

I’ve told a Nuu-Muu-inspired story about how body image can hold us back or we can free ourselves. They seriously, seriously, look good on women of all sizes. One woman who tried on a size XXL at a Summer Parkways event said wonderingly, “These make my legs look great.

Betsy and I were at the South Perry Street Fair and a woman said to size 00 Betsy, “Well, of course they look great on you. You’re a size nothing! What about someone who has some junk in the trunk?” Betsy called out, “Hey Barb! Turn around!”

I turned around (Exhibit A). She bought one. Unfortunately, so far they only go up to a size XXL but if you’re a size XXL and think you can’t wear cute little dresses, try on one of these.

Paired with Pedal Panties, they’re my standard summer riding wear. In fact, I have to confess that now if I ride in a “regular” bike outfit of jersey and shorts I feel a little . . . naked. Not fully dressed the way I would feel in a cute little dress that keeps my butt (AKA trunk junk) covered. If I get off the bike at a coffee shop or store I don’t feel out of place; I’m wearing a dress and ready to go anywhere.

Bottom line, they are cute-cute-CUTE. My Nuus and Ruus are my automatic go-to every weekend all summer long and into the fall. I throw on a jacket or arm warmers and some tights to keep wearing them as long as I can.

You want one.

Hint: They also make great gifts for your biking mom/daughter/niece/friend.

Barb Chamberlain on bike wearing Nuu-Muu, Sheila Moon knickers, Sheila Moon bolero

Rockin’ the Ruu-Muu with Sheila Moon black lace-trimmed lingerie knickers and a Sheila Moon white bolero.

October 22, 2011

Everyday Riders and Unseen Cyclists

I’m thrilled to see more bikes on the street every day. The signs are everywhere that bikes are big.

Local symptoms include:

I see more people–and in particular more women–riding Spokane’s streets. That’s good for all of us on two wheels, since collision rates decline as the number of riders increases.

On the national and global scale bikes are hip, bikes are chic, bikes are photographed because movie stars ride them.

This fashion trend isn’t as substantive as the policy wonkish stuff I care about, but it puts bikes in front of mainstream America, strips them of their Spandex and sweat image, and makes them more approachable, more everyday, than the elite zero-body-fat racing images. (As long as we don’t just replace those images with elite zero-body-fat movie star and model images.)

The increase in bikes isn’t just nice road bikes and well-dressed commuters, though. It’s also people hit hard by rising fuel prices that affect not only transportation but also food, and increasingly—as winter sets in—the ability to heat your home.

I would write more about this, but it’s already been said, and said well, by Dave Steele on these “Unseen Bicyclists” at Next American City.

Read it, and let’s talk about inclusion.

October 21, 2011

Car, Bike, Bus: 3 Transportation Perspectives

A Spokane Transit bus and a woman on a bike next to it.I’ve already written about the shift in perspective I’ve experienced that makes me view driving as a nest of factors that cost me time, money and frustration. I thought I’d break down my bike ride into a few more comparisons that come to mind once in a while on my morning or evening pedal. Your mileage may vary.

Red Lights

In a car: Damn it! I almost caught that yellow light. I would have been able to arrive at work a full 120 seconds earlier if I hadn’t gotten stuck at this stupid light.

On a bike: Oh, good, a chance to catch my breath.

In a bus: Light? What light? I’m in the middle of a really exciting part of this book.

What It Means to Go Fast

In a car: Am I pushing the speed limit so much I’m going to get caught? Those tickets are expensive.

On a bike: I feel so strong! I’m flying along at almost 25 miles an hours and doing it all myself. This is exhilarating! And I’m not even going downhill. Well, not much.

On a bus: Speed? What speed? I’m in the middle of a really exciting part of this book.



In a car: Smells? What smells? All I get is the exhaust from that oil-burning smoke bomb in front of me. He needs to get that looked at.

On a bike: The lilacs are in bloom! And the coffee roaster must be doing her thing today—I can smell the beans when I pass that block. Last night’s rain sure made everything smell fresh and clean.

On a bus: Smells? What smells? I’m in the middle of a really exciting part of this book. Although that girl next to me really needs to learn the meaning of the word “subtle” when it comes to perfume.

Snow on the Ground

In a car: Dang it! First I had to shovel the driveway just to get out. Then I had to shovel off the car and scrape the windshield. Now I’m not sure I can stop at the bottom of this hill.

On a bike: So glad I switched to the bus—I don’t think that driver’s going to be able to stop at the bottom of this hill.

On a bus: Snow? What snow? I’m in the middle of a really exciting part of this book. I’m just glad (or, I just wish) my neighbors shoveled their walks for the trek to the bus stop. But look–that car isn’t going to be able to stop at the bottom of that hill.

Speed Limits

In a car: You know, if they made the speed limit here 35 instead of 30 I bet I could get to work faster. I could still stop in time if one of those pedestrians wanted to cross the street–it’s not as if I’m going to kill someone or anything like that.

On a bike: I love it when I can keep up with the speed limit. Especially when those cars that jack-rabbit through downtown have to stop at all the lights because they speed, and I can just catch up at each red light.

On a bus: Speed limit? What speed limit? I’m about to finish this really exciting book. Then I’m going to check my email on my phone and delete the spam before I get to work. Oh, but there was that driver who zoomed by on my way to the bus stop–just glad I had time to jump back to the curb. I wish he knew that at 35mph, he’s twice as likely to kill someone as he is at 30.


In a car: Shoot, there’s nothing close to my building. I’m going to have to look for a spot and that’s going to make me late to my meeting. Wonder if I have change for the meter?

On a bike: I’ll just park in the rack (or hitch to that sign) and be inside in a jif.

On a bus: Parking? What parking? Not my problem. I think I’ll stop by the library in this little gap between buses and get another book to read. Twenty minutes is just right for me to squeeze in one errand before heading home and I’ll have a nice walk to boot.


In a car: Happiness? What does commuting have to do with happiness? This is the worst part of my day (and there’s research to support this).

On a bike: I love riding my bike!

On a bus: Happiness is a good book and time to read it.

Inspired by Jonah Lehrer’s post and comments on commuting and happinessMatthew Yglesias’s post on congestion pricing, and the smell of roasting coffee on my ride to work.

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • How would you compare the experience of riding your biking to driving, taking transit, or walking? (I left that off as a separate category because I don’t use it myself for full-on transportation; it’s part of my transit trips.)
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