This is a guest post by Ted Mittelstaedt, an avid bike commuter and City of Bellevue employee. Ted organizes the Lake to Lake Bike Ride which is on June 15. Check back next week for details on the ride.
Pet peeves. We all have them. Mine? I absolutely despise sitting in traffic. It’s the one thing that drives me crazy. That’s why I love riding past long lines of cars sitting in traffic. But I have to admit, I even feel a bit smug when doing so.
But that’s not why I started riding to work.
In college, like many undergrads, I rode to class and for fun. In 1983, I started riding to work and immediately fell in love with it. I’d strap my briefcase to my bike rack and off I went. I started riding to work for pure economics. I was a newlywed and my wife and I shared one car.
The only costs associated with my commute were an occasional tube and tire and a bike light I had to purchase after being pulled over for riding home at night without a light – dumb I know. The officer told me I could have the citation and fee waived if I came to the police station and proved I bought a light and installed it. It’s hard to now say that bicycling to work saves money, since I have multiple bikes and there are so many cool bike products that I really “need.”
After awhile, I noticed other benefits of riding to work. When I started to ride to work more frequently, I enjoyed the physical effort involved. Bicycle commuting combined a work out and a way to get to work. As I was riding even more, I found it was great to help get ready for an occasional race or bike event. Since I was able to get my workout in my commute, bicycling became a time efficiency tool for me.
Bicycling also helps reduce my carbon footprint. I live in Maple Valley and it is 26 miles each way to work. In my younger years, when I was bike racing, I rode the entire route on a regular basis. I now bus or drive about half way and then ride in.
When I ride to work I see things I would not normally see. It’s easier to take in your surroundings at 18 mph than it is at 60 mph on the freeway. I’ve seen deer, rabbits, bald eagles and other wild life on my bike commute, as well as some amazing sunrises and sunsets.
As a dad and supervisor of youth programs, I hope I’m setting a good example for my children and youth.
I’ve found that riding to work breaks down inhibitions and puts you in close contact with a wide cross-section of people: executives and doctors to people barely getting by. Most bike commuters are pretty nice people.
I am starting to see an alarming trend with increasingly distracted motorists. I ride by people texting, talking on the phone, eating a bowl of cereal while driving. I’ve even encountered motorists who don’t think bikes belong on the road. I just wave and smile and try to be a good ambassador of bicycling. It’s hard to be mad at a middle age guy on a bike who is waving and smiling.
Thanks for sharing, Ted! Next time you’re stuck in traffic think how great it could feel to speed by on a bike! If you’re not sure how to get started check out our Bike page. Or send us a commute inquiry for a custom commute plan.
Do you ride your bike to work? How about the bus? Carpool, Vanpool or walk? Tell us why and we’ll spotlight your commute!