By Christi Turner @sustainability.love
It’s been nearly four years since I’ve been what I call “carless by choice,” using my feet, public transit, the occasional Lyft ride, carpooling, and of course my bicycle as my means of getting around. Within that time frame I’ve also become what you might call “avid cyclist,” transforming from person-who-likes-bikes into person-who-lives-to-ride-bikes, for fun and for transportation. Naturally this all means that I ride my bike to work as much as possible. For about a year, that meant I had only a 1.5 mile bike commute, about 99% of which was done on Denver’s two major bike paths, the South Platte River Trail and the Cherry Creek Trail – really, really sweet deal. And now, I literally have a job that happens on a bicycle – so every day is bike to work day.
But none of this was by accident. I did this all totally by design: getting rid of my car, prioritizing living close to the bike path, striving to have a job that’s easily bikeable, eventually quitting said job to start my own bike-based business (more on that some other time), etc. I’ve tried to live in a place where I can also easily walk or bike to a grocery store, and to every other spot I might want to frequent on a regular basis, like a good coffee shop, or a post office, or a nice place to get happy hour.
Part of building a bikeable life has meant investing in more and more weather-appropriate riding gear as well – ear warmers and toe warmers to make frigid commutes less biting, the right tires to accommodate most conditions, gloves for rain and snow, etc. It’s not cheap, but then again I’ve chosen not to have the expense of a car on top of the bike-based investments – and it’s certainly far cheaper than a car. In the process, I’ve grown more and more familiar with the city and more comfortable doing more things on my bike around the urban core. That’s not to say I still don’t break into a sweat when I’m on some particularly un-bike-friendly roads, or hold my breath every time I cross under Blake on 38th, possibly one of the worst little chunks of Mile High commuting. And I use my experiences as an urban cyclist to be an advocate for more, better, safer cycling options in our city.
And I want to be clear: I don’t have any kids or pets, so I don’t have other people or animals depending on me to pick them up, drop them off, feed them, walk them or otherwise tailor my schedule to theirs. There are no team practices nor games nor other afterschool activities, nor doctor nor vet appointments for other beings – in short, none of those things that are so often cited as making a carless lifestyle more difficult. And it’s important to note that I’m lucky enough to be healthy and able-bodied, with nothing keeping me from providing my own pedal power.
I have to be honest: I don’t think of biking from place to place as “hard,” but I do recognize that living in a city with sub-par public transit and only decent bikeability makes it difficult to get around without a car, even for people who share similar circumstances as me. I know that not everyone is lucky enough to be able to make every day Bike to Work Day.
But this Wednesday June 28th, Denver’s official 2017 Bike to Work Day, the city is making it easy for you to give it a try. There’s a map of breakfast and water stations and other events happening all morning around the Mile High, right when you need them. There’s a chance to sign up with coworkers as a “team” and take all sorts of B2WD challenges together. There’s a map of active bike corridors (ABC, as the organizers call them) to help you plan your safest route possible. Heck, there are even prizes to motivate you. This is one day where it’s hard to have an excuse not to bike yourself to work. Be part of the movement to make Denver a more and more bike-friendly place to live, and to help more people choose bike-based mobility as a lifestyle.