I wake up early this morning, eager to leave the house and lengthen my commute. I choose the long route. Why? Because I’m a bicycle commuter and I love my ride. Within blocks of home, the first vehicle passes me. Another bicyclist in a neon yellow jacket. She smiles “Good morning” as she rides past. When was the last time a driver flashed you a smile during your morning commute?
On this sunny, autumn morning, I notice brighter reds in the turning leaves; loud singing from the guy in headphones; and the new foundation workers pour for future arts productions at Portland’s refurbished Franklin High School. As I ride, I reflect on a blog post sent to me by Marshall Guthrie, a Monmouth city counselor and avid cyclist who works to encourage everyone to ride bikes–and not just “people in lycra shorts.”
Research shows riding or walking to work makes us happier. In a country where the average commute to and from work is about an hour a day, I’m happy to spend 70 minutes or more in motion and to work in a place that offers bus tickets rather than parking spots in our benefits package. Incentives for active commuting offer a bounty of fringe benefits for employee health: lower blood pressure and greater patience, a smaller waistline and a greater connection with the community.
My route home will cut through the parking lot that would have charged $12 a day had I driven. I’ll cross Portland’s new, car-less Tilikum Crossing, shared by bicyclists, walkers, runners, and transit commuters. I neither have nor need lycra shorts. But I’m grateful for people like Monmouth’s Marshall Guthrie, whose vision and work will lead to healthier, happier and better connected communities.