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Cycling In The Cities: Lessons So far

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

This has been one of those weeks where early meetings and late appointments threw a wrench into my commuter challenge. But it was actually a good thing because it made me realize that 5 weeks into this commitment I have already formed a great habit! I actually felt anxiety on Thursday over not being able to ride my bike into work. I actually missed it! And that emotion was a really good sign that came at just the right time.

Late last week I was starting to feel a little bored on my rides. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I just wanted to be there already! Basically I was growing impatient. So I hopped back in the saddle this week and tried to shake it off. A friend offered last-minute tickets to the Twins game on Tuesday night. It was a beautiful evening to sit outside and enjoy a beer, despite the team’s performance. I left my bike at work that evening and hitched a ride home. Wednesday was a big day of early and late meetings that didn’t leave the time for biking so I pulled out the keys and hopped into the VW. I flew up I-35W at 6am with no traffic and arrived at work in 10 minutes.. all the way enjoying a heated seat and good tunes on the radio. I won’t lie. It was pleasurable. By Thursday I bused into work so that I could ride my bike (which was still sitting at work) home that evening. It was a beautiful ride and that’s when it hit me that I have grown to like biking to work. In fact I prefer it. That’s a great mind shift from the person I was a few months ago.

When I went in to my commuter challenge log today to count my miles I felt pretty proud. Since August 1, I have biked 304 miles on my weekday commutes to work. I’ve saved 15 gallons of gasoline. Think of that. 15 gallons at $3.79 is more than $56! And I’ve reduced my carbon footprint by 236 pounds. It’s really motivating to see how these basic changes to my day are making a positive impact on my wallet and the environment. I’ve also started logging my miles on a new program called Fire Up Your Feet. It’s meant to get more kids to walk and bike to school. You can log miles for your child’s school and the school with the most trips wins cash. Walking and biking to school: what a concept?! Especially here in the state that actually began the first-ever school crossing guard program.

So that’s been my week. I got a little off task but learned a few good lessons along the way. Before I go, I’ll share some things I saw on the bike lane up First Avenue in Minneapolis (which is awesome, by the way!)… a man riding a Lark scooter. I passed him. And I passed a man pushing a shopping cart. I know they both have wheels, but really? Also I’ve discovered I’ve been doing this long enough to share an etiquette tip: riding a bike is just like driving a car. Stop checking your phone at red lights and then Facebooking/tweeting/texting so long you aren’t ready for the green. I was stuck behind a guy doing that for almost a mile last night. Annoying. Whew, glad I got that off my chest.

Angela Keegan Benson is the Assistant News Director at WCCO-TV and a mother of two. On August 1, 2011 she began her quest to live one full year as a bike commuter. Follow along as she figures out how to mesh the cycling culture with the demands of parenthood and an affinity for 4-inch heels. And yes, she’s committed to sticking it out through February storms. For more Cycling In The Cities, follow @Angela_Keegan on Twitter.

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