Bike to Work Day
May 17, 2013
I’m wearing my new blue t-shirt from Bike to Work Day. It was a beautiful morning on the W.O. & D. trail. I hope you had a good ride yourself or at least wished you had when you saw bikes rolling by.
I was at a meet up stop In Vienna, Virginia, when a man rolled up and asked what was going on. When he heard that this was a distribution point for riders who had registered to get a free t-shirt, he asked “What do you get if you ride to work everyday?”
I didn’t hear a good answer to that from the group, although they offered him a t-shirt, but the obvious one is health, and the other is wealth. Compared to purchasing, insuring, maintaining and fueling a car, bicycling is a good deal with great side effects.
At the Falls Church stop, a group gathered around one of the city’s four police bike officers. The little bells were tinkling warnings to dog walkers, people with kids and all the folks out on the trail. A few people passed me keeping a faster pace.
Certainly this wonderful Friday was a great day to enjoy the trail. Honey locust trees in blossom perfumed the air. Irises added color to the verge and birdsong cheered me on. The trail into D.C. from Virginia is mostly downhill a lot easier than the way home which climbs out of sea level and up into the hills of the Piedmont.
I paused on the George Washington Bridge over the Potomac River. In the shallows near Roosevelt Island I spied turtles with their heads sticking above the water looking around. Out on the main branch, rowers skimmed over the river gracefully. I overtook the lines of cars moving slowly across the bridge and made my way through the busy campus of GWU. Crowds of people headed into offices along Pennsylvania Avenue and a thousand tourists in various matching t-shirts crowded the gates of the White House.
I sent an email to my Greenpeace colleagues asking if they had biked and if they did so regularly. More than 3 dozen told me they biked just above every day including today. No wonder it’s hard to find a place to park your bike in the office. Occasionally, our facilities department warns on the office intercom that a bike is about to be towed.
Relatively speaking, cars haven’t been around that long. Dec. 1, 2013, will mark 100 years since Henry Ford switched on the first automated assembly line. My grandmothers were born before the age of the automobile and they told me about a very different world without pavement. My parents are in the first American generation to use cars for most of their lives. Born in the 1920s, they walked, biked and rowed boats through the 1930s, but when the 1940s rolled around, so did a lot of cars. I was about 7 when my Dad ran alongside me helping me learn to balance a bike. I kept riding right up through the time I had a driver’s license and well into the 1970s. The late 70s came with Bruce Springsteen solidifying the profile of the automobile in songs like “Born to Run.” I rode a bicycle to work at a gas station for awhile and it was always on the radio. I got a Trek 320 when I was in college which made long distance rides possible. Bikes are fantastic way to see the world.
I have a car and I drive when I have to, but when I’m riding a bike I know I am doing something good for me, and for the planet.