Saturday, June 26, 2010

Bike to Work

The people in my office know that I prefer to bike to work, and usually do.  While I ride, like on the sidewalk trail along Lamar where all the cars are creeping along, I often wonder why more people don't.  The main reason I do is, I just like it - the sensation of gliding through the air, hearing birds, connected to the world and doing comfortable work that stimulates my mind, instead of sitting in an effortless bubble and resenting the other bubbles. My preferred destination on weekends and before work when I can, is Barton Springs; nothing like a ride and swim to start the day. So I mostly just like it, but the health benefits are obvious, the traffic avoidance is peaceful, parking problems and carbon imprint are nonexistent. I also enjoy knowing the geography of Austin from a bicycle, biking with friends, and even the small amount of planning that is added to my day to include everything I need - change of clothes for work, swimsuit/towel/goggles, work itself, cell phone/wallet/sunglasses/keys - in panniers and fanny pack.  Someday I'll get a trailer and do even the dog food by bike.

Many people don't live 4 miles from work, I know; (I used to ride about 8, and that was quite doable too). And many people feel more self-conscious than I about getting to work a little sweaty (or they have more complicated hair issues after wearing a helmet). But work isn't the only place you can and should bike.  All our lives we make little loops from home, to work, to the store, to the pool, to the gym, to the hike and bike trail. (A pet peeve - those who feel virtuous driving their Tahoes downtown to exercise.)  Why not bike to the gym and to the trail, and on every loop under 4 miles that doesn't involve kids or major cargo?

State government could do considerably more to promote a bicycling cultuer among state employees.  The state has wellness initiatives and every incentive to promote employee health, less traffic, and fewer parkers (porkers?).  I would certainly volunteer to evangelize - here I am - and even to coach individuals on picking a route and getting it done.  I encourage the Texas Facilities Commission to look for opportunities to provide suitable shower and changing facilities (like the legislative staff enjoys in the Robert E. Johnson Building).

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