Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sub-zero green commuting

While we've been writing this blog since December of 2010, we've been pretty lucky as far as the winters go. By "lucky", I mean global warming has worked in our personal bus/biking favor (and really, that's the only positive), and we haven't had to navigate the snow much.

It was always fun to answer the question 'but, do you ladies REALLY bus/bike in the winter?'. We were always able to smugly say 'oh yes! of course' without having ever really living it.

Until the winter of 2012/2013.
Hello, sub-zero green communting!

And hello:

-Frigid winds
-Wind chills of below zero
-Black ice patches like nobody's business
-A newfound understanding of what municipalities are good about snow/ice removal and who needs, ahem, some work
-Teary bike rides (see also: "Frigid winds")
-A newfound love of my creepy face mask
-A newfound love of my heavy mountain bike and just how well it handles in the snow/ice
-Seeing just how quickly my bike tires get jammed up with snow
-Seeing just how quickly my behind gets covered with dirty snowmelt as I bike (next project: fenders!)


I had a thought that maybe I'd have to take a break from biking this winter and try to just bus commute on the really snowy days. I would have to navigate a SMART bus transfer from my house, but always up for a good metro Detroit transit challenge, I gave it a shot.

The bus stop was about a 10 minute walk from my house, not bad. I then waited for the SMART 430 bus for TWENTY minutes (see also: "Frigid winds"), took the short ride to the Royal Oak Transit Center, and waited another 10 minutes for the Woodward 460. My total commute time, including walking from my house = 1 hour, 35 minutes. And I don't think I thawed out until lunchtime. This bus connection is good to know, but don't think this is going to be my sub-zero green communting answer. My normal commute time when I bike? 1 hour, 10 mins.

And what I realized: the underappreciated warmth that walking & biking provide as a part of this whole green commuting experience. It also takes me about a 1/2 mile of walking or biking to really warm up. That cold start is kinda brutal, but once you get rolling? Not so bad. And it's so much better than just standing in the elements. Oh and of course. Happy hour/vodka helps too. #nosurprisethere

So, please feel free to share your winter green communting stories here! What works/doesn't? How do you stay safe & warm during your bus/bike commutes?