“On your right!” This is what popped into my head this morning as I glided past the rows of morning car commuters crawling along the George Washington Parkway heading into DC. The Mount Vernon Trail comes just close enough to the parkway in a few spots to allow eye contact between bicyclists and drivers, and for every endorphin-fueled smile I spot on the trail, there’s a gas-fueled grimace behind the wheel to remind me why I ride. That said, my observations here should not be taken as basking in self-righteous bliss. Of course, it does feel good to blow by the lineup of cars with my 1987 Schwinn Voyageur powered by a few cups of coffee (and a few extra pounds of stored energy, to be honest), but that isn’t my point. I enjoy seeing people’s faces–whether grinning or not–instead of tons of steel streaking by. I like to think that these interactions and glimpses of the transportation choices we make are good for all of us to see–especially as the weight of these choices becomes more apparent from the air we breathe to the sting of rising gas prices.
As I continued my commute, I thought about that phrase again, “On your right.” In many ways, my transportation choice could be seen as a conservative one. I chose to conserve fossil fuels to be a good steward of our shared natural resources, and my fellow bike commuters and I were making a patriotic decision not to drive. But our concern for the environment is not owned by those of either side of the political spectrum. Bicycling is bigger than that; a real solution to a number of challenges we face as a nation. We should be shifting trips to the bike as much as possible, especially with the knowledge that 40% of trips are two miles or less. Advocating for bicycling, is fiscally conservative, pro-business, pro-family, and embraces personal responsibility for both personal and environmental health. So, take this as a call to take a friend, colleague, or elected official for a bike ride. Help someone find a good route to work and share the good feeling of true energy independence.