A Calming, Cost-saving Commute:
Tom Radley uses the East Lake Sammamish Trail to get to work and for pleasure.
Rob L.'s new bicycle trailer, which comes in handy for his daily 5.25-mile commute to work.
Peter McMullen enjoying his daily
route in Milwaukee.
In May, we asked you to tell us how you use rail-trails for a greener commute. Some cyclists wrote about the money they save avoiding cars and public transit, the wildlife they enjoy along the route, the scenery and fellowship with other trail users, the safety of non-motorized pathways, and the joy of decompressing outdoors after a full day's work. Others shared how their trails were perfect for walking or riding to everyday errands: haircuts, the farmers market, the bank, church and a host of other destinations.
What everyone expressed, though, was how their rail-trails made chores more fun, and their commutes more recreational and refreshing.
Tom Radley - Sammamish, Wash.
My wife and I have been using the trails for biking and walking all around the country for more than 25 years. Two years ago the East Lake Sammamish Trail was built next to our house on Lake Sammamish in Washington State. My wife jogs on it every day and also walks the dog. We both bike on it for fun and exercise.
I have a retirement job coaching high school tennis, and I commute by bike using this trail. I do almost all my errands the same way, including grocery shopping, banking, haircuts, dentist appointments and the post office. On Earth Day, my wife and I went out on the trail and picked up litter. We wanted to give back to the King County for providing such a great resource.
Andrew Hyde - Bethesda, Md.
I commute regularly on the Capital Crescent Trail from Bethesda to Capitol Hill. I would not use my bike to commute if it weren't for the Capital Crescent. I savor the chance to set my own travel schedule without traffic concerns, as well as the beautiful scenery along the trail, including the Potomac River gorge. It is also so satisfying to see other commuters on the trail every day. Of course, the cost, exercise benefit and lack of carbon footprint are also major benefits.
Greg Gamache - Concord, Calif.
I am retired and work part-time for REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc). I work two to three days a week and take a portion of the Iron Horse Regional Trail to ride the eight miles to the store from my house. Without the trail, commuting would be very hazardous and impractical. I would have to ride several city roads that are very heavily traveled. The trail makes the trip safe and quick, dropping me off in the mall parking lot.
REI is a great company to work for as a bike commuter. The store provides a hook to hang the bike in the warehouse and a shower. In addition, after 80 roundtrip rides, the store will award a free tune-up. Of course, having a store full of bike parts, a repair shop and several trained bike mechanics makes bike commuting nearly ideal.
Occasionally, I have to drive my car to work, and I find I get very frustrated having to stop at each red light and jockey my way in and out of traffic to get home. In rush hour, it can take me nearly as long to drive a car as it does to ride the bike. However, on the bike, I can fly down the trail and avoid that rush-hour craziness. Surprisingly, I find that the 45 minutes of "spinning" also takes the fatigue out of legs that have been standing on the sales floor for eight hours.
David Romanowski - Bethesda, Md.
I live a half-mile from the Capital Crescent Trail in Bethesda, Md. For most of the year, I commute by bicycle to my job on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., using the trail for about half the one-way distance—just over 10 miles. Biking takes me about the same amount of time as using the Metro subway system. Last year, I commuted by bike on 141 days, covering about 3,000 miles and saving almost $700 in Metro fares. Along the way I've seen deer, beavers, foxes, raccoons, snakes, turtles, herons, wood ducks, mallards, geese and possibly a coyote. I'm still hoping to see a bear someday.
Peter McMullen - Milkaukee, Wis.
I have a short two-mile bike commute from home to work on the densely populated streets of the Eastside, Riverwest and Harambee neighborhoods in Milwaukee. On my return journey home, I add about a mile in order to link up with Milwaukee County's Oak Leaf Trail.
The off-road segment of the trail is an old railroad corridor that provides an escape from traffic, allowing for better decompression from the work day. Along the heavily used trail are walkers, runners, inline skaters, recreational bike riders and other downtown bike commuters. The trail goes by the Urban Ecology Center, Riverside Park (designed by Frederick Olmstead), and Milwaukee County's Cambridge Woods. The trail also allows for a faster and safer crossing under a very busy arterial street. The added distance is well worth it given my short commute.
Rob L. - Sarasota, Fla.
I just purchased a trailer for my bike and started commuting to the office each day. Luckily, I have a shower at the office, otherwise if would not be practical (although the distance is about 5.25 miles each way, it gets warm here in Florida). It takes about the same amount of time as driving and I save gas. However, the drawback is I shower twice a day (we have drought conditions here). I already ride 60 to 80 miles a week to stay in shape, and this will add 50 miles to my week.
The Legacy Trial just opened in April and is very nice, although there are several trestles that need to be completed over various bodies of water. Great trail and I hope it is completed soon so we have 30-plus miles in one direction. I am becoming spoiled.
Mark Habermeyer - Waukesha, Wis.
One rail-trail serves my needs for major grocery trips. But I also walk to work, church, library, farmers' market, small local fresh meat and veggie grocer, etc. Living in the heart of a downtown certainly has its advantages, and in winter I take the bus. Although my preference for biking is the open road, I support rail-trails for other bicyclists and for the future. For more than five years I have not owned an automobile. Life is good.