As I continue on my journey to find natural, renewable, human powered and cradle-to-cradle influenced changes for the world, I decided it was time to Walk My Talk, or perhaps more accurately, Peddle My Commute.
Now, its no secret that thousands of people already commute to work each day via bicycle; I too had joined the ranks of these Bike-to-Work athletes for many years. In the early 2000’s, my commute was Sammamish to Seattle, about 19 miles one-way. It took me the better part of 2 hours to make this distance. (Needless to say, the Tour de France riders had no fear of competition from me.)
Add time to shower, eat breakfast and its easy to see the exorbitant daily time commitment commuting by bicycle poses. I endured and it was fun to see my mileage quickly grow over the course of a summer . . . but then some incidents happened that changed my thinking.
One morning on my commute in to work, a car took a right-turn directly in front of me, hit me and my bike. I crashed off his front side panel, nearly propelling over his hood before hitting the pavement. I was shaken-up to say the least. I looked up to see who it was but, too late . . . the driver had sped away up a steep Seattle hill and there was no way I could catch him in my dazed condition.
Another time I was commuting home late, crossing a ped/bike bridge over I-90, hit a patch of frosty leaves and BOOM, 9.8 m/sec2 kicked in (gravity) and I was down on the ground. Initially, I could only think about the sickening sound of my backpack (laptop inside) bouncing off the concrete pavement, but soon the pain in my shoulder and hip pulled my attention their way.
I realized, “Okay, this commuting by bike-thing is important to me, but if I’m run over by a car, or seriously injured in a crash and can no longer take care of my family, what’s the point?” So, I compromised and bought a bus pass. My commuting bike hung in the garage for the next several years.
Fast-forward ten years and my work at Microsoft is much closer to home, about 9 miles one-way and almost all of it is bike path. This seems doable, so I take down my bike and try commuting into Redmond every day.
My job at Microsoft requires me to pretty much carry my office with me everywhere I go. My bag easily weighs 20 lbs with laptop, power supply, water, books, etc. The nine miles includes one major hill; okay, I’m not a hill climber, I hate hills unless I’m going down.
I persevere and climb the hill for several days in a row, realizing immediately that there’s no way I’m getting to work without taking a shower and changing clothes once I arrive. This is really inconvenient, plus it means I’m carrying even more weight every day in a backpack (because I don’t have the fancy bike packs).
Then, I started research electric-assist bikes, but then there’s the rain. Did you know it rains here in the Pacific Northwest . . . like pretty much every day except in the summer. I mean we even have the northern-most rainforest less than 80 miles away. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoh_Rainforest]
My perseverance quickly faded and I hung up my bike once again. “There’s got to be a better way,” I thought to myself.
I’d almost given up when I happen to be out on TEDx.com, listening to a number of speakers; and I come across a talk by Rob Cotter, CEO and founder of Organic Transit. “I’d bike to work, if only.” And I thought, “THIS GUY GETS IT!!!”
Organic Transit clearly understands the barriers we all face with our human-power commutes. Their Electric-Lightweight-Fun (ELF) vehicle looks like it will solve all my challenges.
Fast-forward six months and I find myself ordering my first ELF. It’s an investment, to be sure, but I’ve made up my mind it’s time to “Peddle My Commute”, with Lithium Ion battery – electric motor assist, a recumbent seat, and a carbon-fiber enhanced shell around me to protect me from the elements. Hey, who says you can’t save the planet IN STYLE!
[Next Time: One Human Power + The Sun = Nearly Infinite MPG.] It’s time to start a new movement!!
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