Riding across the I-90 bridge on my morning commute, I reveled in the mountain views. What a beautiful place I have the honor and pleasure of calling home! Yet the view saddened me, too: After a day or two without rain, the smog buildup begins obscuring the mountains. This morning, after a dry week, I could barely make out Mt. Rainier. It looked like a mirage, faint white and blue brush strokes painted onto the blue-brown horizon. The Cascades hid in the hazy distance, and the Olympics shyly showed only a faint outline to the west.
This saddened me because I remember how stunning, even breathtaking, I found the same vistas in January. When the clouds and rain gave us surcease, the mountains came out looking close enough to touch. The Cascades and Olympics stood out vividly, their snow-capped peaks cutting boldly across the wintry blue sky, their foothills definitively black and navy and purple. Sunrise light (which coincided with my morning commute) gilded Mt. Rainier and its shawl of wispy clouds, later turning the snow the colors of a Dream Come True.
Comparing my memory of the crisp winter mountain views with the summer’s smoggy blur reinforced my top reason for bicycling: reducing my environmental impact. Cutting carbon footprint isn’t on the forefront of most bicyclists’ minds. People usually ride to save money — that’s the number one reason. Other reasons to ride include:
- Building exercise into your day (don’t pay for a gym membership, don’t have to exercise the willpower to workout after a long day, don’t have to fit it in time-wise);
- Not needing to buy gas (which goes back to money, not supporting foreign nations, and contributing less to horrific environmental disasters);
- Easier parking (park in your cubicle, against any fence or post, in pretty much any secure place, or, in Pioneer Square, BIKE PORT); and
- Faster commuting (in the city riding often outpaces taking a bus or driving; see here and here)
The added bonus of reducing CO2 emissions is a maraschino cherry atop the sundae of reasons for bicycling for many cyclists. But for me, living in Seattle and loving the place itself, bicycling is about doing my bit to keep Washington beautiful. This place is my home. I’m responsible for caring for it, so I ride my bike.