I’ve been incorporating my bike into my work commute more and more since January when I started the new job. At first it was from the house to the bus stop to the factory. It saved me 15-20 minutes per trip.
Then I started using it more to try out different bus routes, or to skip my transfer to the #17 at Woodland Mall. This added up to 30 to 45 minutes of travel time saved per trip.
Now I have made it my goal to make the entire one-way trip 100% by bike at least 4 times per week. I will shave over 30 minutes off the commute versus taking the #6 and #17 buses.
All of this strategic thought that I’ve put into my transportation choices, and the benefits (money, environment, health, politics) of doing so have been kind of an interesting experiment in being actively involved and engaged in the world around me.
It has also been getting me quite a bit of buzz at work.
People ask me all kinds of questions about my biking on a regular basis. How far is my ride? Aren’t I scared of getting hit by a car? How long does it take me to get to work? What kind of bike is that? What made me start doing this? Don’t I get cold riding in the freezing weather? Am I crazy?
I get a lot of positive feedback from all kinds of people about it. I’ve had a few people tell that they admire my dedication, or that they respect the whole green living aspect of it, and that they appreciate the focus on living healthier.
For being a pretty conservative state built on car culture and politics, I am pretty surprised that so many people seem to think what I am doing is kind of cool. It is nice to see that sustainability and green living are becoming such mainstream values. Even if people aren’t always actively taking part in this stuff, they are at least thinking about it and appreciating it when they see it utilized in the real world.
This got me to thinking about my role in living sustainably in Grand Rapids. Doing the little things I do in my daily life kind of makes me an example for others around me.
If they see “the bike guy” at work doing it successfully, then maybe they will be inspired to dust off the bike in the garage and cruise the neighborhood on the weekend. If they see a video I made about the farmer’s market, maybe they will try eating locally grown foods. When I get excited and tell them how I found out we have a locally sourced e-recycler for our used electronics in the test lab, maybe they’ll realize that this is a better idea than sending that broken radio at home to the landfill.
And just as I hope that those around me will find a little something to aspire to by the examples I set, I too see other people around me doing way more with the choices in their lives. This inspires me to push the limits a little farther in my own life.
Fortunately for me, I live in a city with tons of great people to serve as examples for living sustainably.