This Tuesday in cycling...
After another 3-day field excursion to North Cascades National Park--and the requisite 2-4 hour drive, pending I-5 traffic--I returned to Seattle ready to write, ready to analyze data and ready to ride my bike. Yep, that's right, research makes me want to ride my bike. Let me break down why.
As a Seattle resident of nearly 6 years, I have a really hard time getting into the Subaru that my partner and I share, unless I'm going into the mountains or a field site where transit doesn't go. We grinded up I-5 on Friday and then back down on Sunday to and fro SR-20 (still not open at WA Pass due to incredible snowpack!). It took nearly a full tank of gas, and 6 plus hours in drive-time. I had great company, tunes and conversation, but the unfailing gridlock of I-5 was enough to make me mull over the environmental and economic sustainability of the average Snohomish or Skagit County to Seattle commute by car.
Apparently, I'm not the only one with these things on my mind. As we began that commute to lovely Newhalem, Washington, The Urban Country was writing up a review on the exact same things. Not surprisingly TUC finds that as Americans, we're driving a lot, often in short distances and at great financial, environmental, mental and physical costs. Something has to give, and it probably won't be gas prices. More, friendlier, cleaner, and faster transit, paired with more safe and thorough bike trails are a starting point that municipalities small and large are recognizing as solutions.
Seattle and King County have the right idea--I've been able to bike commute for years and lived two years in Seattle without a car painlessly. However, it will take the entire I-5 corridor thinking wisely about how to pair transit and bikes to provide point-to-point service from say, Mt. Vernon to Seattle or Lacey to Sea-Tac. Bike infrastructure has to meet buses, trains and the requisite park-and-ride lots for van pools that flow east and north to regional employers like Boeing and Microsoft.
It will take efforts not unlike those of Boulder, CO (but a statewide scale):
While it's not restoration ecology research, energy, commuting and sustainability are the collective endangered Indian elephant in the room of anybody who doesn't work from home.