Friday, February 03, 2006

My other car is a padded room

Bike commuting has a negative side: Some of us just can’t do it all the time.

Luckily, I live so close to my office I can make the drive in 10 minutes on minor streets. I pedal out of my way on ride days just to make it a 13-mile roundtrip.

A couple of days ago, I drove to work because I had to take my son to a medical appointment and run several other errands in the same part of town. It had snowed all day and the streets were slick as fresh dog shit in a downpour. Cars were sliding into ditches, bouncing off each other, idling at traffic lights. In other words, it was a fairly normal winter day in Anchorage.

After my son’s appointment, I spent an hour and 15 minutes wrestling with the soul-killing traffic as we completed a couple of quick errands and tried to get home. I was tempted to pull into a Taco Bell and buy us an early dinner of toxic cow so we could wait out the worst of the afternoon rush hour.

I’d watch traffic lights cycle as my pickup idled, and I’d mutter to myself about harsh punishments for Anchorage traffic engineers—but from the look of things I’m not sure we have any. A well-designed town this ain’t. I’ve happily adopted it as home, but I find its beauty in areas other than intelligent planning.

I also thought—as my blood boiled at those arthritic intersections—how nice the wooded bike/ski trails would be with three inches of clean, quiet new powder on them for an afternoon bike commute.

Most of us who ride to work spend a lot of time telling other people how bike commuting is fun and relieves stress. It’s all true. The downside is that, when you really enjoy traveling to and from work under your own power, it’s just that much harder to adapt when you have to strap yourself into a steel box.

1 comment:

bikingtoronto said...

I can totally relate. We rent a car once every 2-3 months to visit friends in the suburbs, and not only am I stressed out immediately (and I'm a good driver - I once took on Manhattan :)), but I whine about wanting to be on my bike the whole time. :) I have to find some good biking routes to the 'burbs. :)