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Biking Successfully!

By Kate Seitz

Hi fellow EcoWomen. I’m Kate, a mid-twenty’s Midwestern transplant to DC and self-proclaimed environmental enthusiast, perpetually on the lookout for new ways to “green” my routine. My kitchen cupboards are exploding with glass jars that previously held jam, pickles, you name it. Can’t get enough of ‘em, and continually find new ways to re-use ‘em. I think I may be allergic to wasting food and throwing recyclables in a non-recycling bin. I’ve dabbled in the creations of homemade, organic face wash, face scrub, and hand soap. I persistently scour the web and chat with like-minded individuals about ways to reduce consumption and make a positive impact on our natural world. I’ll be sharing my successes and inevitable failures (my first batch of hand soap resembled a giant booger…still workin’ on that…) here, as I continue to put my lifestyle under the magnifying glass and discover ways to incorporate eco-friendly practices into daily life. Hopefully, a DIY idea will strike your fancy, or I’ll succeed in intriguing you with the wonders of bike commuting (see below). Read on, and stay tuned…

Each and every day, we make choices about how to transport ourselves from point A to point B. Which mode of transportation we select is something we can all zero in on to reduce the stress that we as human beings exert on the natural world. My own “ah ha” moment hit me after living in DC for a few years. The commute from my first DC residence to work was relatively painless. I biked three-quarters of a mile to the nearest Metro stop. The Metro was about a 15 minute ride, after which I’d exit at my stop downtown and walk one block to work. Thirty minutes door to door. Boom.

Here’s the thing. DC summers make any Metro commute a little more interesting, and by interesting, I mean sweaty and uncomfortable. I’m talkin’ daily summer Metro rides where each passenger is sweatier the last, and what seems like every other Metro car has a busted air conditioning unit. On more than one occasion during my summer Metro rides, beads of sweat literally trickled from this dude’s…OK OK, I’ll stop there. Point is, Metro commutes in the DC summer heat and humidity does not a happy person make. This unfortunate reality aside, I always had the thought in the back of my mind: could I make it to and from work in one piece on a bicycle? And if I could, how much of a positive impact would this change lend, both on my own lifestyle and on the environment?

It wasn’t until my husband and I moved into our second and current DC residence that I took the possibility of becoming a bike commuter seriously. Our place is off of the Metro grid, and while the Metrobus does stop right outside of our house, well, don’t get me started on the woes of the Metrobus. After our move, I planned out my bike route, got my ride tuned up, and purchased several articles of clothing that may or may not blind anyone who looks my way (but hey, at least they decrease the chances of a clueless driver nonchalantly running me off the road). Despite my preparations, my worries as a cycling novice loomed. What if I get honked at? What if I go the wrong way on a one way? What are those hand signals again? As I prepared for my first official bike commute and nervously pondered these questions, my husband offered to spend his morning off to accompany me on my first ride to work (can you say “swoon”?). Not only did I make it all in one piece, but I did the trek home all by my grown-up self (ta da!). And thus began my love affair with bike commuting.

I now bike every day to work, rain or shine, 10 miles roundtrip, and would not have it any other way. I suppress the temptation to yell out “see ya, suckers!” as I (safety) make my way right on passed the inevitable traffic jam. What I love most is that I spend 15 minutes of my 25 minute commute on the Capital Crescent Trail. Have you been on the CCT on the weekend? Ya, not the same. Don’t get me wrong…it is a great trail regardless, and I love to see so many people out and about on the weekends. But the trail on an early weekday morning is so calming. Peaceful. The other cyclists are friendly, almost neighborly. Many nod their heads to say good morning. And I once got a thumbs up…how’s that for a start to your workday?

My bike commute is the perfect start to my day. I look forward to getting on my bike each morning and

pedaling to work, passing the serene Potomac on my right, no cars in sight. It gets my heart pumping. I consciously draw in deep breaths of fresh morning air. I’m on my own schedule, free of worries about Metro breakdowns and traffic pile up. Plus, I’ve tapped into the environmental advantages of cycling, which include avoiding gas and electricity consumptive modes of transportation. If only I had discovered this joy years ago…

May 18th is the Washington DC Bike to Work Day. No better time to discover this delightful means of transportation than when you’re sharing the streets with thousands of fellow cyclists! So get out there!

Yours in greening,

Kate Seitz

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