Mode Shift Required a Mind Shift

On Monday night after the City of Waterloo Council Meeting I found myself starting to talk myself out of the bike ride home.  The reason for this thinking related to all of the following:

  •  I did not like my ride to City Hall in morning because my route over the expressway on University Avenue was so terrifying and I knew I did not want to re-trace that route home
  • It was completely dark and for some reason I was not sure that I was ready to ride at night
  • There was an Environment Canada Wind Warning in effect and I knew City Forestry crews were busy removing downed trees.
  • I had rode at noon in the wind and found it crazy difficult.
  • I did not think I could physically manage the inclines on Regina Street or Lexington Road without walking my bike up the slope.
After Council ended, I considered my options including:
  • mounting the bike on a bus to Conestoga Mall and riding home from there
  • Seeing if my bike would fit in the back of the CAO’s Jeep (he lives near me)  
  • Calling my husband to load the bike in his truck
  • Leaving the bike at City Hall and driving home with the CAO and collecting the bike the next day
  • Riding home.
In my over analyis of the situation I was thankful I forgot to bring cash that morning so the bus was out of the question.  I was not going to borrow “bus money”.  The CAO was 100% willing to help out.  My husband also encouraged me to call at the end of the meeting because the wind really was howling.
 
In the end, I thought to myself if I really want to make a mode shift to a more sustainable means of transportation AND if I really want to help reduce my stress levels through exercise then I have to overcome the willingness to leave the bike behind when the weather changes.  I had planned ahead in the morning and packed my lights for night riding as well as a jacket (in the future a reflective vest will also be in my equipment); so the only barrier to the ride was in my head.  
 
Determined, I advised the CAO of my route home and we agreed that in the event it was too windy I would place the bike in his vehicle on route.  So with my gear on and my plan B in place I started out.
 
To my wonderful surprise the ride was beautiful! I rode north on Regina Street from City Hall to Lexington Road.  The close proximity of the businesses and homes effectively blocked the wind.  I learned the incline on Regina was not as difficult as I thought it would be.  At Weber I turned left and entered the Forwell Creek trails next to Canadian Tire.  I constantly rang my bell because my light did not illuminate too much of the trail…note to self pack the “Cay-Eye” light in the future.  The use of the trail and then the subdivision streets completely blocked the high winds AND even better? It eliminated the big incline on Lexington Road.  When I arrived home 20-25 minutes after I left I felt like I had really accomplished something. 
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An Urban Commuter?

I have been keenly interested in starting a blog for a long time.  I wanted a blog to focus on some of my interests including:

  • City of Waterloo Council;
  • Active Transportation; and
  • Leadership in Sustainable Communities.

As well, I hope to share my personal journey to seek out ways to live more sustainable and reduce my own personal carbon footprint.

This first blog will focus on that last goal.

Last month I purchased an Urban Commuter Bicycle (Trek Coaco) with the goal of cycling to work, including City Hall.  I was some what worried about my ability to follow through on this personal goal.  Determined to ride in a business suit or a dress I “test rode” the bike at the dealership in a dress and proved to myself the peddle forward bike would be ok to ride in a dress.

This past monday I packed my laptop and playbook into my saddle bag and headed off in a dress.  My preferred trail was closed because of construction (more on this in another blog) so I chose to ride across to University Ave.  BAD choice, Good lesson learned.  Riding past on and off ramps for an expressway is not a good choice.  On the ride home in the wind I rode north on Regina st. (great route) to the trail along forwell creek and through the Dearborn subdivision. This was great, it included limited inclines and the buildings helped to block the high winds.  I proved to myself I can make this choice.  It was an empowering experience and encourage anyone reading this to give it a try.

Am I an urban commuter? I do not believe that I am YET, but trying.