Even though Malia Kawaguchi only learned how to ride a bicycle 3 years ago, today you can see her on two wheels all around Redmond! Malia and her family moved next to the Sammamish River Trail and they found that most everything they needed in Redmond could be reached by bike. With easy access to trails and bike lanes Malia is now biking to pick up groceries at Trader Joes, riding over to the Redmond Saturday Market with her daughter, and taking her bike panniers to buy essentials at Target.
“Being on a bike is like being in a convertible, but I’m getting exercise!” she told us recently. With our Northwest weather she still uses her car during the wet winter months and considers herself a “fair weather biker”. But now that the weather is warming up, she and her daughter are looking forward to taking the bike out as much as possible.
Even replacing short trips car trips with those done on bike will have a positive impact on the environment. Four miles roundtrip on a bike-which is about the distance between Redmond City Hall and Blazing Bagels-will keep about 15 pounds of pollutants out of the air we breathe! That’s nothing to sneeze at. According to the Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey, 40% of all trips are within two miles of home, yet more than 82% of trips five miles or less are made by car. A two mile bike ride is usually less than 15 minutes! Think what an impact we could have in Redmond if we replaced some of these short trips like Malia has done in our human-powered convertibles (aka, bicycles). We’d certainly be having more fun than sitting in traffic!
For those who are considering giving up your car occasionally, take heart that you don’t need to be dressed in head to toe spandex in order to ride in Redmond. “You can still look like yourself and ride a bike,” Malia told us. While she has been known to wear some spandex shorts with padding under her everyday clothes, you can get away with jeans and bright jacket. As much as her husband has tried to get her interested in all the bells and whistles available at REI, she maintains that her helmet is the only equipment she really needs (but some of the extras are fun).
Her other advice to those thinking about biking? Don’t be afraid to take that first step in trying to bike around town. You don’t have to match the other bikers for speed on the trail, go slowly if you need to. Walking your bike up bigger hills is perfectly fine too. The important thing is that you are out enjoying the bike experience and trying something new.
Plenty of resources are available to Redmond residents over at R-Trip that will help make your transition to biking a smooth one. This summer could be the perfect time to incorporate this more sustainable transportation mode into your commute, just be sure and wave to Malia on the trail.