Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Biking to work!

I biked to work today for the first time this season.

Our office has a couple fabulous features that make it easy to commute by bike: 1) ultra-casual dress is acceptable and 2) it’s located right next to a major bike path through town called the Midtown Greenway. The Greenway extends east-west across the whole city and connects to suburban bike paths, making it possible to bike on a carless bike path from the Mississippi River westward to Lake Minnetonka, one of the largest metro lakes and the westernmost suburb.

Part of the Greenway, through the heart of the city, is built in what was a railway trench. It was built below street grade, with the city streets bridged over it. Seems like an obvious way to build a railway through the city so as not to disturb street traffic, but it was unusual (either the first or second such railway trench) when it was built. The glory of it for biking is that you can get across the city easily, without having to stop and wait for lights and traffic at every corner.

Last summer I biked to work as much as possible, which means all the days that I had no client meetings (and therefore didn’t need to dress up) and it wasn’t raining.

I’m not wild about biking for exercise. But I do love biking for transportation and especially for getting to work. I don’t do it for the environment. I don’t do it to save energy. I don’t do it to reduce my impact (if I have any) on global warming. I do it because it’s more fun that driving. There’s something about using a bike for transportation that makes me feel like a kid and, more specifically, makes me feel like ME as a kid. What could give you a stronger reminder of yourself as a kid than biking as fast as possible to get home before dark, which I had to do a couple times last fall.

Sometimes I don’t feel all that connected to the person I was at earlier points in life. But I suspect it’s emotionally healthy to feel one with all the yous that you’ve been. Because biking for transportation connects me to the kid me, I feel like it’s good for my soul.

There’s another aspect to biking to work that I love that I’m having trouble putting my finger on. It’s something about having a more direct connection to all of the ground between home and work.

A third fabulous feature of our office is that dogs are welcome. Here's Karma the Dog sleeping under my desk.
The result of this abundance of office riches, is that I’m going to have to choose each day between biking to work without Karma or driving with Karma. (I know, I could get a doggy trailer and I might, but a) she’s 50+ pounds so it’d be a chore to pull her and b) she’s easily frightened so I doubt she’d like it. I need to find a way to test it before shelling out $300.)

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Minneapolis is second only to Portland, OR in its percentage of workers who commute by bike. Austin is 18th. Houston is 41st. Dallas is 48th.


Scooter said...

I love that Karma gets to come along to the office. If that were allowed at my office, I'd likely have another goofy collie by now.

Btw, I mentioned your firm's policy to my extremely politically liberal boss...he turned up his nose. I think in a firm with 30 lawyers and 30 support staff, things might get, well, a little too unlawyerly.

Scooter said...

Btw, Austin ranks where it does only because we're already hitting 95F plus degrees consistently.

Stephanie said...

I've heard of larger firms/businesses having dog rotation so that not everyone brings their dog every day.

And, btw, clients can/do bring their dogs sometimes. And I've received many dog presents from clients because they love the policy.

Stephanie said...

I bet Minneapolis would beat Portland if we didn't have snow for 5 months of the year.

Scooter said...

I'd be all over your dog policy if I had any say.