I recently read a summary of a research study that concluded that walking even part of your commute could result in a happier you. As I read, I thought of my doctor who, at each of my visits to her office, would ask if I was walking more. She would always recite a long list of benefits for my walking as a part of a regular daily exercise routine. “Walking 10 to 20 minutes three of four times a week will make a world of difference in the way you feel!” she would always conclude. I’m sure that if she reads this article, she will include the benefit on her list at my next visit.
Being an advocate for green commutes and a “wannabe” good patient, I thought I would share the article and encourage you to join me and give it a try by adding a walk to your green commute.
So, what is a green commute? A green commute is almost any alternative to driving alone in your car to and from work. Typical green commutes include carpools, vanpools, riding transit, bicycling, telework, compressed work week, flexible work schedules and of course walking. Go ahead take a walk! Add walking to your green commute and let me know if it makes you a “happier You”!
If you are looking for ideas for how you can add a walk to your green commute, here are a few of my suggestions:
- Carpool/Vanpool Drivers: Park the vehicle in the parking space farthest from the entry to your building. This will work for commuters working compressed work weeks and flex hours.
- Carpool/Vanpool Riders: Get dropped off and picked up a block or two from your workplace
- Transit Riders: Walk to the second or third closest bus stop
- Teleworkers: Take a break during your work day and take a 10 or 15 minute walk around your neighborhood. You can also get a nice walk in by walking your dog or go out and track down your cat!
- Bicycle Riders: Umm, me? I would likely walk my bike instead of riding my bike up an incline. But of course you get a walking pass if you stay on your bike up those hills!
- Walkers: Good for you! You’re already the Happy Commuter!
Got a story about your Happier Commute? Share it on on Georgia Commute Options Facebook page!
Jean is a passionate supporter of public transit and a compassionate advocate for commuters in general. Jean’s advocacy efforts for commuters is demonstrated in her current position as Outreach Manager with Georgia Commute Options which offers free services to help Georgia commute improve how they get to and from work. Her personal motto is: I have many interests however, one thing I will assure you, once I catch a vision, I will use every bit of my passion to bring it to being!
In 2007, my husband and I moved to Atlanta from Mexico City and settled on Lawrenceville, which is a 25 mile commute trip. When I found out MARTA buses had bike racks and that you can ride the train with your bike, a whole new world opened for me. Mexico City subway does not allow bikes and buses are not equipped for them.
Every morning my husband drops me at the Sugarloaf Mills bus stop, I later transfer to MARTA at Lindbergh Station and then hop a train to Buckhead Station, less than a mile later I’m at work. Reverse route is the same until I arrive back at Sugarloaf Mill. Here is when the “fun” starts and I bike about four miles to get home. During this time, there are no worries. I get some sun. And a sense of freedom that feels just great.
While the bus allows me to take a short nap or work on my cross-stitch project, with zero driving stress. The relief of filling my car’s gas tank just once a week instead of three times per week is priceless.
On top of that, I was able to lose 25 pounds, which helped me become healthier and pregnant. After a short break and now that our baby girl is a little older, I’m back on my wheels. Let me tell you… there is nothing more heartwarming that seeing my baby girl waiting for me to arrive so we can ride a lap around the subdivision. That is now my favorite part of my commute!
I’m really looking forward for the Path400 Trail and add a few miles to my bike ride. Believe me, it may take a bit longer than your actual driving commute but creating a route that works for you and start riding is totally worth it!
Clara commutes from Lawrenceville to GE (Transportation Department) in Buckhead each day. She averages riding 20 miles a week. She also will ride through the Atlanta trails and paths on weekends. Check out how Clara and GE Transportation are doing in the Atlanta Bike Challenge here.
I worked in Copenhagen, Denmark for a year right after college, and while I had biked recreationally before that, cycling soon became my only mode of transportation and way of life. As many people know, cycling is ubiquitous in Denmark -- many families don't have cars, the infrastructure is safe and well-protected, and bike lanes are often plowed and de-iced before the roads in the winter!
Then when I moved to Atlanta for graduate school, it was a serious adjustment to bike culture here. It took me a while to get used to, but I love the freedom of biking to work. I get a little burst of natural energy so I'm awake when I get to the office, get to skip past all the traffic by taking quieter side streets, and save quite a bit of gas and gas money. I try to be a cycling ambassador, since the general public attitude towards cyclists still needs improving (and for the record, some cyclists' attitudes towards drivers also needs improving!). Since I just graduated with my Master's in Public Health, it gives me a great opportunity to practice what I preach and use my commute to improve my health. I'm excited about how popular biking is becoming in Atlanta, and look forward to positive improvements in infrastructure and advocacy!
Erika works for Task Force for Global Health and commutes from Old Fourth Ward to Decatur each day. Between commuting and errands, she bike around 40 miles a week. To see how Erika and her workplace are doing in the Atlanta Bike Challenge, click here.
I started biking to work for a few reasons: extra exercise, reduced wear and tear on my car, and because I simply enjoy the freedom I feel when riding my bike. Atlanta has so many engaging areas to experience, and the joy of riding a bike only adds to the fun. As a native Atlantan, I appreciate the revitalization happening at the core of the city, and am constantly re-discovering beautiful areas that are both old with history and new with purpose. The scenes and sounds of the city as experienced from the level of a bike saddle are so much more vivid than through a car window.
Everyone benefits from folks riding bicycles. Emissions are reduced, roads are less car-congested, and fewer road-raging car commuters are on the road, all of which benefits every one of us. For the cyclists, waistlines are kept in check, moods are heightened, and often we get to make new friends while stopped at a light or intersection. As a resident of southwest Atlanta, an area that is still developing its bicycle-friendly infrastructure and culture, I feel it's all the more important to ride in my neighborhood, and to do so respectfully in order to bring more visibility and awareness to the growing cycling community.
Christy works as a Microbiologist contractor at the CDC commuting from College Park. She bikes 15 to 30 miles a week for commuting or leisure, and gets on her bike even more when she's training for a race. See how Christy and the CDC are doing in the Atlanta Bike Challenge here.
I’ve always loved exploring my neighborhood, but hadn’t thought about the freedom of “bike as transportation” until recently. This year’s Bike to Work Week was the catalyst that started a very good habit; that week I biked every day. I’m not as regular every week, but I use my bicycle as primary transportation (along with my Vespa). My car has moved to approximately 4th place, after “by foot.”
I try to take a slightly different route every time to explore. The neighborhoods I pass through to get to work are at the same time thrillingly and quaintly historic – the stately Victorians of Inman Park, the thriving businesses on Edgewood, Martin Luther King Jr’s birthplace and the homes surrounding it in Old Fourth Ward. You miss a lot in a car, which I love experiencing by bike. Biking isn’t just about saving the environment or “one less car” on the road (though those are important too). It’s about knowing your city and your neighbors and yourself.
I’m lucky. I work about a mile from my home, in a building with a (creepy but functional) shower. I live very close to the start of the BeltLine’s Eastside Trail, for easy trips to Midtown and the Freedom Farmers Market. And I love every second of it.
Lauren commutes from Inman Park to her job at Vert in Old Fourth Ward. She rides an average of 5-10 miles each day. You can connect with Lauren on Twitter @laurenzarzour.
I moved to Atlanta in August of 2010 to begin a new job in enrollment management at Georgia Tech. At that point I drove to work everyday. In May of 2011, on the day my car lease was coming to an end, I drove first to the bike shop to pick up my new bicycle, put it in my trunk, drove to the car dealership outside the Perimeter, dropped off my car and bicycled home along Northside Parkway. I have been bicycling to work ever since, everyday, rain, sun or even snow.
I feel much healthier and good about my carbon footprint. No car payment, no insurance, no worrying about gas prices, no parking permit to buy. When traffic is bumper to bumper, I actually make better time. When one cycles, they see the area they are passing through in much greater detail, and I can appreciate the houses, trees, office buildings and people I pass everyday on my way. I see the subtleties in the evolution of midtown. I also see the shape our roads are in and the pervasiveness of distracted drivers so I must be on guard all the time to ensure my safety.
Lately I've rerouted my trip to include Piedmont Park which is so much more relaxing than Peachtree St. But, if you are on the road early enough, Peachtree isn't too scary. On cold winter days or during torrential downpours I feel special, like an adventurer, out braving the elements. In the heat of summer I am fortunate that I can shower and dress at the GT Campus Rec Center. The extra exercise gives me the freedom to indulge in an occasional morning donut without guilt or a gut. And, a benefit that I never thought of until I started bicycle commuting is it gives me a break from talking shop on my cell phone. It may be the only reprieve I get from that or being on line all day. I've never regretted for a minute my going from being a driver to a bicycle commuter and recommend everyone give it a try to see if it might fit their lifestyle.
Paul commutes from Ansley Park to Georgia Tech in Midtown at least 5 days a week. It's about a 7 mile bike ride round trip. You can connect with Paul on Twitter @GTKohn. Click here to see how Paul and Georgia Tech are doing in the Atlanta Bike Challenge.
I don’t particularly like driving a car. I never have. Sitting down in a car has always been far less enjoyable to me than walking or riding my bike. When I recently accepted a job in Midtown, I was very excited to be able to bike to work. I spent a little time plotting my route and getting attuned to the weather (and forecasts), but pretty soon I was able to bike almost everyday. On any bike commute I get to experience the world around me in a very real way- I don’t feel like I’m in my own bubble. When I see or hear something interesting, it is easy to stop and check it out, whether it’s a piece of art along the BeltLine or the latest event happening in Piedmont Park.
I am also lucky enough that I can take my daughters to their daycare on my bike, and we all love it. There are the usual arguments for biking or other forms of active transportation: you save money, you relieve congestion, you get physical exercise, you don’t produce additional greenhouse gases or pollution. Sure, riding my bike saves me money, makes me happier and fitter, and I like feeling like I am making things better, but at this point in my life I don’t think any of those are the key reason. For me I think the most important reason I bike is showing my daughters how much fun it is to bike to work. Demonstrating that there is another form of transportation that is cheap, healthy, fast, and fun is a great lesson to pass on.
I appreciate that the City of Atlanta has committed to building out cycling infrastructure, and that advocacy groups like the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition have done an excellent job of pushing for more infrastructure and for raising awareness of all the joys and benefits of cycling. I hope that when my daughters are ready to ride on their own that all the good work that has been done will allow them and their friends to bike with ease throughout the city and enjoy it as much as I do.
Alex commutes to TSW in Midtown from his home in Old Fourth Ward. He rides his bike an average of 35 miles week. To see how Alex and TSW are doing in the Atlanta Bike Challenge, click here.
Does doing something as simple as changing the way you commute have the power to impact your wallet, your mental and physical fitness, as well as your sense of connection to the city you live in? My answer to this question is an enthusiastic, resounding, stand on the rooftops shouting, “YES!”
I am a New Yorker, born and raised. Growing up in Manhattan, I had it all in terms of convenience in getting from point A to point B. I was navigating the subways on my own during middle school and fully reaping the benefits of zipping around the bustling metropolis (for pennies, I might add).
Fast-forward ten or so years, where this once 13-year old city slicker is now a yuppie fresh out of college, plopped into the urban sprawl that is Atlanta, GA. I accepted a job in this wonderful city without the slightest inclination that I needed to buy a car (“I need to do what!?”). I always had in the back of my mind that biking could be a viable option, but as someone who hasn’t ridden much since the days of training wheels, much of my first few years here was spent huffing and puffing (and honking) behind the steering wheel of the car that I begrudgingly bought.
One day, it clicked. I was spending hundreds a month on a gym membership (even more on gas, car maintenance, and etc.), and hours a day commuting (when it could have taken minutes). I decided to go for it and buy a used bike, just to try it. Nearly a year’s worth of bike-commuting later, and while saving >$200 a month, getting my workout in every day without even trying, and cutting down my carbon footprint are all great side effects, my favorite is the fact that I feel infinitely more connected to the city I have spent most of my twenties in. I’m able to zip around this city so quickly and easily without being dependent on my car and all of the fun (read: terrible) things that come with it. This lifestyle change has paid dividends on my physical and financial health, but most importantly, my psyche. The once impenetrable expanse of “peachtrees” has now become a friendly, blossoming, progressive city from the eyes of this Yankee.
Basically, if you complain about your commute and you haven’t tried biking, what are you waiting for?
Liz bikes about 10 miles a day. She combines MARTA and bike riding on her commute from Inman Park to Dunwoody. You can connect with Liz via Twitter @lizmennen.
When I started riding my bicycle to work it was for the double benefit of being better for my physical and mental body and better for the environment, and while all those things still apply, (and research confirms these benefits and more) what has KEPT me riding my bicycle over and above any other sort of transport is the simple joy of experiencing the connection to my community. When I’m on a bicycle I get to really feel the changing of the seasons, see the architecture of the historic and modern buildings, wave at friends and acquaintances (like the friendly crossing guard) or even just enjoy the momentary shade of a lovely tree. These sorts of things were not available in the same way when I was a motorist. Thus, I purchased a home in 2012 in Adair Park in Southwest Atlanta near MARTA and the Atlanta BeltLine with the intent to get rid of my car and in January I donated my car to charity and haven’t looked back.
I sincerely believe that life in Atlanta is better by bicycle and I love the community that comes with the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, the Atlanta BeltLine, and events like Atlanta Streets Alive, the Mobile Social, Commuter Breakfast/Happy Hour and Heels on Wheels. So if you in your automobile see an orange-helmeted woman pedaling on your street please give me safe passing distance and think about joining me next time in trading traffic and carbon-emissions for coasting and community building.
Amber is the store manager at Houndstooth Road, Professor of Psychology at Agnes Scott College, and Preschool teacher at Turning Sun School in East Lake. She commutes from Adair Park in Southwest Atlanta and rides her bike anywhere from a couple miles a day up to 20 depending on what she has going on. Check out how Amber and Agnes Scott are doing in the Atlanta Bike Challenge here. Connect with Amber on Twitter @araley or on Instagram @amberoranje.
I seldom have to go into an office, as my job can mostly be accomplished via teleworking, unless I’m at a client site. When I do have to make the trek up to my office in the Perimeter area (45 min – 1 hr in traffic), I choose to ride my bike and take the train as often as I can. I much prefer being able to get some exercise and clear my head rather than sit in stressful bumper-to-bumper traffic and be part of the problem. As they say, you’re not in traffic you are traffic.
My wife and I both work, so we take turns dropping my daughter off at her school. When it’s my turn, I try to take the bike as often as possible. Aside from the physical and environmental benefits, it’s just fun! I love having my “co-pilot” help me navigate and generally just laugh and point out interesting things along the way.
Overall, I think it’s important to ride instead of drive as much as you’re comfortable. Even if it’s just down to the park with the kids once a week or around the corner to the store, a little will do a lot of good. Trust me, I drive my car often, but my first instinct when running an errand is whether or not I can ride to accomplish it. The more bikes on the road, the more awareness drivers will have, the more bike infrastructure that will be justifiable, and the less you have to feel bad about that extra cookie you ate…
Jim works for IBM and commutes from Ormewood Park. He bikes an average of 100 miles a week. You can connect with Jim on Twitter @jimbilotto. To see how Jim and IBM are doing in the Atlanta Challenge, click here.