Bicycle Commuter Diaries: It's Not Just Economical, it's a Lifestyle

My task in the Bike to Work Challenge is to infect others with the love of bike commuting since I already do it—and have been doing it for years!

After college, I moved from Athens, Ga. to Washington D.C. to intern for my senator and I had heard that you absolutely didn't want to bring a car. The drain on your bank account, (mind you interns don’t even get paid), would bankrupt you in no time: gas, insurance, paying for parking, parking tickets...just pure hassle. I had biked in college and I didn't own a car anyway, so I embraced the advice and bought a monthly subway pass. Soon after, friends in my ultimate Frisbee circle talked me into bike commuting as an alternative to the subway. I was sold.

I had actually taken cycling as a course in college, so I was a trained rider, but I was also mentored by veteran D.C. bike messengers who showed me how to ride, safely and assertively.

Soon after my internship, I landed my first job with McKinsey & Co. and I knew bike commuting was meant to be. My company subsidized our commutes with monthly transit fare cards and even put in showers at the office. Back then, I suited up daily, so I preferred riding gear, a shower, and a change to start the day. Now I’m much more streamlined and ride dressed for work each day.

After a short stint of biking to work when I took a job in San Francisco, my second career landed me back in Athens, Ga. I knew that as an undergrad, Athens had been bike friendly—even back in the late 80's—so I returned and bought a house within a two-mile radius of downtown where I worked and continued commuting by bike every day with an occasional ride on transit when there was inclement weather. Although it was a bike friendly city when I was in school, I was pleased to find out that Athens continued to make progress by adding bike lanes, greenways and even bike racks on buses!

It might look as if commuting is all about economics for me—and sure it was when I was a lowly intern with no salary—but it became a way of life, a great way to set the tone for my day and arrive at work without road rage. I also enjoy doing my part to reduce emissions.

Today I find myself working in the transportation industry in Griffin, Ga. and I’m still biking to work. As I enter the fifth decade of my life, I’m stoked to keep moving and happy to have logged thousands of miles all over the planet, both to work and on vacation. It’s really become a way of life for me and a great one. I urge you to give it a try!

For those interested in getting started, I’d be happy to show you my gear, route, and wardrobe. In fact you can check out pictures on my Facebook page to see what I wear and even get a few tips (I like to share). Oh and for those who love pictures I have posted a photo essay of the graffiti/murals on my cycling route to work when I lived in Athens.

If you like taking photos, you can share and even get points in the Bike to Work Challenge by posting photos on The Clean Air Campaign’s Bike to Work Photo contest page on Facebook.

Tracie Sanchez, MPA, is a mobility manager for the Three Rivers Regional Commission in Griffin, Ga.