Friday, May 29, 2009

2009 Commuter Profile #4 - Michael Braaten

What is your age? 41.

What is your occupation? I supervise the Property Tax Exemption and Deferral Programs for the Department of Revenue.

How many years have you been commuting by bike? I've been commuting by bike on and off for more than 30 years.

Describe your current average or usual commute (distance, terrain, urban/rural, etc.) My usual commute varies depending on traffic conditions and the weather. It's part suburban, part rural, part urban, part freeway. I have a number of great route options to choose from. Some are relatively flat, but my usual route has some good hills.

What got you started bike commuting? I started commuting seriously in college. I attended the University of Washington and worked at a restaurant in Ballard. I didn't have a car, and since it was only 5 miles to work, it was much faster by bike than by bus. In my current job, I am really fortunate to have excellent support at work for bike commuting, including bike parking, alternative commute incentives, and shower facilities. I also get a lot of support from my wife. She is really tolerant of our Friday post-ride "transportation" meetings at my house with my commuter friends.

What is it that keeps you going, especially when the going is tough (weather, etc)? I use bike commuting as a way to train for racing cyclocross and mountain bikes. If you've ever seen an early season mountain bike race or a cyclocross race in December, you know that the conditions we faced in early May are typical racing conditions. I also commute with a good friend, and I know he is going to show up at my door to ride every morning, rain or shine.

How do you choose your route (most direct, least traffic, most scenic, etc)? Weather and traffic conditions are the biggest factors. Some of the roads I ride have little to no shoulder, so while they might be fine on a clear morning with light traffic, they aren't such a good choice with high traffic volumes and bad visibility. When I-5 backs up, it's a lot of fun to ride on the shoulder past hundreds of stopped cars. Most people are supportive and I'm sure a lot of them wish they were riding too.

What style of bike do you ride to commute? I have a Specialized road bike that I ride when it's reasonably dry out, and a Cannondale disc brake cyclocorss bike that has been converted to a wet weather commuter. I have also ridden my Cannondale Scalpel mountain bike to work a few times. My friends and I have a longstanding joke that all of my bikes are mountain bikes.

How many times have you participated in the Bicycle Commuter Contest? I have participated in the commuter contest every year since 2004.