With May weather finishing up with a bang—thunder, some rain, many clouds—it is easy to see the dedication of Seattle area cyclists for bike month. Decked out in reflective neon colors and flashing bright blinking lights, sometimes confused with disco dancers, these cyclists brave the Seattle rain and drivers to get to their destination. The riders seem to be in good cheer and don’t have the timidity that drivers seem to have when there’s rain in the sky and water on the road. Nice sunny days brings out waves of riders, those who prefer fair weather and those who are new to bike commuting. Bells ringing, riders smiling, legs pumping; it’s always a nice day to ride in Seattle when it’s sunny.
The Bike to Work challenge is presented by the Cascade Bicycle Club and sponsored this year by Adobe and Starbucks among other companies. Friday, May 17 was the official bike to work day, around town at commuter stations, coffee, other refreshments and bike adjustments were offered to riders. Those registered for the event on the CBC website are entered into prize drawings and are eligible for other perks. May 8 was bike to school day, and there were plenty of bikes on campus.
Seen on the sides of roads where you may despise them, cyclists are saving the air quality by reducing carbon emissions made by most cars and busses. There is about a week left in May and riders have already logged over 1.2 million miles collectively on the bike to work commuter challenge. That’s a pretty big number and the equivalent of 59 million calories! Great exercise is one reason riders choose to travel by bike rather than by bus or by car. Some enjoy the ride because it gives freedom unlike that of a car. Sidewalks, alleys, bike lanes, can all be ridden safely and multiple route options can actually reduce some drivers’ commute time! Others ride because, well, licenses do get suspended and bus fare isn’t always affordable. Nobody rides because the shorts are sexy. Nobody.
Of course there is a downside to bike commuting. There is a huge risk when riding in traffic that drivers will not be aware of you. I’ve got scars from biking, I’ve hit cars, had to dodge cars, had stuff thrown at me from cars. Busses or semis that corner too tight can jump the sidewalk and be a hazard. From a cyclists standpoint, it’s a survival situation every ride. The use of a helmet is a must if you want to keep your IQ. Cyclists riding in urban environments may want to carry pepper spray as a deterrent to rabid dogs or persons of questionable interest. Don’t ask. As the saying goes in May, ‘live on a bike and let live on a bike’.