Monday, February 15, 2010

Article from the FTE News Magazine for State Employees (published with permission)

ECY engineer logs 5,050 miles commuted by bicycle
(OK, if this guy can do this year round in Spokane's climate...)

Photo by Jani Gilbert, Comm. Mgr
Ecology, Eastern Region

Kim Sherwood doesn’t have to worry about making exercise resolutions for 2010. He had already sweated enough in 2009 to last a lifetime. Before the New Year rolled in, Kim had logged 5,050 miles in 12 months of bicycle-commuting to his job as Water Quality Permit Manager at Ecology’s Eastern Region Office (ERO).
Such a feat takes patience, time, and determination, plus a passion for bicycling—qualities Kim has cultivated over the past 20-odd years of working for Ecology.
Kim began bicycle commuting in 1986, when he worked at the Central Region Office, in Yakima. Those early commutes weren’t so far, he said, but they got him into the bicycling habit, and it stuck. So when Kim relocated to ERO in Spokane, six years ago, it was second nature for him to plan out a bicycle commute route. The glitch: the office was 32 miles away.
Kim bit off the bicycle challenge in chunks. For awhile, he used combinations of car, bus and bicycle to make the commute. Over time, he added more bicycle miles until, in 2008, he found himself bicycling the entire route.
Kim’s morning begins at 3:00 a.m. to gear up for his two-plus-hour bike ride that takes him over country highways near the Idaho border, along the Spokane River Centennial Trail, and finally up the congested city streets of Spokane to the Ecology office north of the city center.
Kim’s bicycle, a little-known make that he bought years ago in Yakima, weighs 28 pounds and bears the scars of many years and many miles. The bike sports a relatively narrow front tire, and a fatter mountain bike tire behind. “It’s not as fast as a road bike,” says Kim, “but I don’t get so many flat tires either.”
Inclement weather doesn’t keep Kim off his bicycle. When the storms move in, Kim tops his bicycling shorts with sweats and turtle-neck layers for warmth. He covers it all with a large, white plastic bag converted to a poncho, belted snugly in place by a fluorescent safety harness studded with flashing lights. He wears a tight-fitting polypropylene hood to keep his head, ears and neck warm underneath his bicycle helmet.
There’s no doubt that Kim is noticeable when he’s on his bicycle. He wants it that way so that motorists will be sure to see him when he’s cycling in the dark. Kim is so visible, in fact, that a Washington state trooper recently pulled alongside at a stoplight to tell Kim he wished all bicyclists would show up so well in the dark.Kim can cite many reasons for dedicating himself to bicycle commuting, including the fact that he saved more than $2,000 by leaving his car in the garage. But, for Kim, the most important reason is that, by his calculations, he has kept at least 10 barrels of crude oil in the ground. “That’s my return to my cousins—including my non-human cousins—that I reduce my footprint so other life can share the planet.”