Slowdown Commutes in D.C.

This past month I participated in 30 Days of Biking, a challenge to ride one’s bike every day in April. In all, I rode 28 of 30 days.

bike sharrow panda

I made the 30 Days of Biking pledge because I was in a bike commute slump I could not shake.

This month helped me see the city with new eyes, as I wrote about in another April post. I carried my cell phone in a place I could readily document some sliver of my rides.

It’s remarkable how long a 4.5-mile commute can take when you’re poking along searching for a potential photo spot.

Recently there have been various articles disparaging people’s use of cameras, saying that taking photographs detracts from the moment.

Living in Washington, D.C., one of the nation’s biggest tourist magnets where who knows how many people are taking a photo at any given time, I can agree with that point of view to some extent.

However, I benefitted from making each morning and sometimes afternoon a little bike commute assignment.

Petals and Paselas

Have you ever been in a place you know well, you notice something you hadn’t before, and someone tells you that it’s been there for years? That’s how documenting 30 Days of Biking felt.

I slowed down and looked at my bike as more than a human-powered vessel to transport me to and from work. Every day I rode, I made time to appreciate the beauty of my bike and to recognize it in a photo. Both the Surly LHT and the Quickbeam had lead roles in my 30 Days of Biking.

Instead of riding with my head focused on the pavement directly in front of me, I looked around me and saw all that I pass every day yet never take the time to notice. I discovered new-to-me places that were always there.

My daily commutes with the add-on purpose of a photo evolved into a sense-driven expedition. I became a tourist in my own town.

When I look back at my 30 Days of Biking set I remember exactly where I was, what the sun was or wasn’t doing, my disposition, how present the wind was, and if anybody was there to share the moment.

My photos weren’t great, but they were proof to me that a commute by bike is still better than a day on Metro or (gasp!) in a car. Even though May has begun and the challenge ended, I still sought out something special on my bike commute today.

Gradually, I freed myself from the funk of my commute and renewed my appreciation for my daily bike rides around the city. Mission accomplished. Good job, bikes. Thank you, 30 Days of Biking.

9 thoughts on “Slowdown Commutes in D.C.”

  1. Way to go!
    When I return home from traveling overseas, I always notice the “new old”. With this in mind on my daily commute, my goal is to ALWAYS BE A TOURIST (Not the annoying kind! : ) In other words, look for something new every time.

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  2. Have you ever been in a place you know well, you notice something you hadn’t before, and someone tells you that it’s been there for years?

    Yes! It’s always a joy to discover new things surrounding you. Eyes up: it’s a lesson I’m trying to learn.

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  3. Nice. Finding the little things during a regular day props up not only yourself but the people that you come in contact with.

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  4. Great photos (I’m a real sucker for photos of spring flowers). I think taking photos can detract from the moment if you’re too focused on taking the perfect photo than on enjoying where you are. But I think sometimes looking for something different or unusual to take a photo of can help you to see things you wouldn’t already have done. It becomes a habit – even without a camera I find myself noticing things I might otherwise not have done.

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