cycling

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.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here 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.

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Leave the Car!!!

bakeLast month, I challenged myself to lower my carbon footprint so I decided to work out my first big step: overcoming car dependency.  I live in the San Juan metropolitan area, where you have everything so near that sometimes using the car is ridiculous.  First of all, I tuned up my old bike and skateboard.  I started going almost everywhere with them:  grocery store, drugstore, university, concerts, and even on Friday nights hanging out with my friends.  I used my car only to go to work, because the distance between work and my apartment is significant.   But I realize that other options where available, like the bike/train program, which gave me the opportunity to use the train with my bike and cut a run of approximately 45 minutes to one of 10 minutes to work.   Unfortunately, it was no easy feat.  Here in Puerto Rico the infrastructure to support the use of bicycles is almost zero.  Even though, there are many recreational cyclists here, there is still a lot to be learned about promoting the use of the bicycle as transportation means.  While we have a local Cyclist Bill of Rights, it is not enforced all the time.  Cyclists, recreational or not, are a big group, and agencies need to provide the necessary infrastructure to guarantee our safety.

We all know that cars & trucks are among the largest sources of air pollution.  Vehicles emit about one-third of all volatile organic compounds and half of the nitrogen oxides and air toxics that contribute to poor air quality.  They release carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas and known contributor to climate change.

Our Agency has taken various steps to help employees reduce their impact on the environment. EPA offers its employees a Transit Subsidy which is an excellent way to promote the use of mass transportation.  Also programs like Flexiplace, Alternate Work Locations and Compressed Work Schedules give us the opportunity to limit or eliminate our commute days, thus lowering our carbon footprint.
For now, I am working towards becoming car independent.  I strive to lower my carbon footprint by making this and other changes in my daily routine.  While I am changing my life, I am improving my health and contributing to making Earth a better place.

About the author: Alex Rivera joined EPA in 2007.  He works as an environmental engineer in the Municipal Waters Division of the Caribbean Environmental Protection Division.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here 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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.