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The Places You’ll Go, the Things You’ll See

2013 May 14

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Bike-HeaderBy Darren Buck

I have never considered myself very “green.” Sure, I ride a bicycle to work every day. In doing so, I avoid emitting well over a ton of CO2 into the atmosphere per year than I would if I drove to work instead, which is nice. But before I began riding regularly, any concern that I had for the environment was rather vague. I started riding primarily to avoid the nearly $10,000 a year needed to own and operate a car, and to keep myself healthy without having to carve out extra time from my day to exercise.

bike-monuBut as the miles on the bike piled up, I started becoming more aware of the natural environment around me. I noticed it in ways that one cannot from behind the wheel of a car, or from the seat of a bus, or speeding under the city on a subway. On any given day, I might see the deep-amber sunrise of a low-air-quality day, a milky-brown river from storm runoff, or the first cherry blossoms sprouting in springtime. Perhaps an offshore weather system shifted the breeze from its usual northwesterly direction, or the summer humidity sent steam rising off of asphalt.

In my days before the bike, I never would have noticed any of these things. My bike ride to and from work transformed ecology and the environment from an abstract concept into something that I saw, heard, and felt for 40 minutes, twice a day, for every day I went into the office. This remains one of the most surprising, and rewarding, aspects of bike commuting for me.

BikeSnowWhether this coming Bike to Work Day is your first time trying a bike commute, or just the latest of many, I would heartily encourage you to take a few moments on your ride to look around for the things that would otherwise fly by your window. I do on every ride, and it is often the highlight of my workday. Though, saving all that money and avoiding the gym is not bad, either.

Brief bio: Darren Buck is a marketing specialist with the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, and has also published research on bicycle transportation planning topics. He has been using a bicycle to get around the Washington, DC area for nearly 12 years.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

5 Responses leave one →
  1. Jeff permalink
    May 14, 2013

    I too have seen a lot of things biking to work I never would have seen otherwise. One of the most amazing things I ever saw: I was riding along the river one morning on my way into the city when a very large, dark bird suddenly swooped past me perhaps only 20 feet overhead. This was pretty unusual so as I rode I watched the bird, probably a osprey.

    Just after it passed me, it banked sharply up through the tree branches. It approached a dry branch at the very top of the tree, and I thought it was going to land. But instead of landing, the bird reached out with its talons, grabbed the branch, and shook itself hard, snapping the branch clean off, exactly like how a person would have used their two arms. Then without missing a wing-beat, it flew off carrying the branch.

    I was like, “Wow!” at the sheer power and graceful flying the bird used to break off what was a rather stout piece of wood. I didn’t see where it flew but I assumed it was gathering nest material, as there are many stick-filled osprey nests in the area. This was a few years ago but I still think about that remarkable sight whenever I ride past there.

  2. Master Melvin M. Lusterio permalink
    May 15, 2013

    The Good Force be with you!

    Thank you, Darren, for a good article!
    Happy Biking!

    Live forever and prosper!

  3. Maryann Harvey permalink
    May 15, 2013

    You see so much more on foot and on bike and really feel connected to the earth. Our communities could be designed better for this type of transit to work, and mass transit as wel

  4. Survivor permalink
    May 19, 2013

    Nice article thanks for sharing.

  5. Lisa permalink
    May 28, 2013

    this reminds me of hiking mountains here in China. It gives me the same feeling of becoming more aware of the environment. I wish I could bike in China as well, but living in a big city it’s unfortunately a bit dangerous.

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