A fantastic commute | AspenTimes.com

A fantastic commute

Dear Editor:

With winter quickly approaching, it is time to bid farewell to another successful season of bicycle commuting. Soon, a good portion of the Rio Grande Trail will be either groomed for cross-country skiing or closed until spring.

I want to thank RFTA for steadfastly working to make the vision of a valleywide multiuse trail come to fruition. Soon, it will be possible to travel between Aspen and Glenwood without the use or threat of the automobile.

Bicycling is a legitimate and viable alternative to the automobile for many people. Car-free environments, such as the Rio Grande Trail, make it possible for people to bike to places they otherwise could not, or would not, due to traffic conditions or unsafe roads.

I know there is controversy surrounding some portions of the trail, and some have lamented that the trail is mostly a recreational outlet. This might be true at the moment, but people have to start somewhere. It would be too much to ask for someone to “get off the couch” and commute 10 miles by bicycle; today’s recreational cyclist is tomorrow’s bike commuter.

Leaving your car at home has many benefits, including improved health and a fatter wallet! There is a lot of talk around the valley lately about reducing our “carbon footprint.” Well, ditching your car is surely more effective and more satisfying than turning off a few light bulbs. Biking a 10-mile round trip 45 times a year will prevent 427 pounds of carbon from entering the atmosphere, assuming your car gets 20 miles per gallon. With oil quickly approaching $100 per barrel, I expect more people will consider leaving their car at home.

Even those who live far from work can still enjoy the pleasures of bike commuting. One way is to drive partway to work and bike the rest. You can start by driving to within a few miles of your job and slowly increase the distance over time. One option for people who work in Aspen and live downvalley is to park at the Brush Creek lot and enjoy a relaxing ride into town.

Commuting by trail is very serene, relaxing and fun! After a stressful day of work, nothing beats cruising home at a leisurely (or fast!) pace under your own power with nothing to worry about except avoiding piles of bear scat.

My fellow bike commuters and I hope to see you out there next spring.

Louis Wilsher


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