Bike to Work Day 2011

By Aaron Ferster

Did you bike to work today? Last Friday, I wrote about my plans for taking part in Bike to Work Day festivities. “Who’s in?” I asked. From the number of comments, it seemed a safe bet there was going to be a robust turnout.

That proved to be the case here in Washington, DC, where we had near-perfect cycling weather: clearing skies, temperatures in the low 50s, and no wind.

My own ride was absolutely delightful. I rolled out the driveway around 6:30 a.m. wondering what kind of cycling “traffic” I might encounter on my 18-mile ride. One great thing about bicycling is that, unlike when you drive a car, you can actually go faster when you draft behind a line of fellow commuters. (Well, if you can keep up, that is.)

I didn’t have much opportunity to draft in the early parts of my ride. I counted a half dozen other bikes on the road, all heading in the opposite direction. There were almost as many deer (four), soft brown bodies outlined by shafts of orange sunlight and columns of swirling mist, the last remnants of last night’s storms. For no particular reason I rang my bell as I passed, but they didn’t bother to look up.

At around the 12-mile mark, another cyclist whizzed past me so fast I think I saw their rear wheel before I heard a voice: “On your left.” “They could be the poster child for Fly Your Bike to Work,” I mused.

After about an hour or so of pedaling I had reached my “pit stop” in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of DC. Here was my opportunity to join one of the many “commuter convoys” that ride together. This is also where I’ve been meeting a friend and fellow bike commuter since 1996. This morning we calculated that between us we’ve only missed this ride together two out of 15 years.

I counted 17 riders in Mount Pleasant, and we continued to grow as we merged with other convoys over the last four miles to the big gathering. A chorus of dinging bells greeted us as we glided into Freedom Plaza—another successful Bike to Work Day.

Tell us about your own commute in the comments section below.

About the Author: Lead science writer for EPA’s Office of Research and Development, Aaron Ferster is a frequent Greenversations contributor.