A note about the bridge meeting, before our regularly scheduled post:
When I arrived (after biking over the Western Ave Bridge, which required aggressively taking the lane)
I was a little disappointed that there were only 8 or 10 bikes outside, but the hall was full, and there were lots of people who spoke in favor of bicycle access improvements. I think that they will take that seriously as design begins, but I think the the cycling community needs to stay involved to make sure bicycles are taken into consideration not only over the bridge, but at the nasty intersections on both ends.
I was leaving for work the other day, when I ran into an acquaintance of mine on the sidewalk. During our conversation, she mentioned that her husband had started to walk to work- a trip of about 35 minutes each way. That's considered a long way to walk, but it's about the same amount of time as my bike to work.
Tom Vanderbilt, in his book Traffic made an interesting point, that human settlements have historically been limited to the radius of 30 minutes trip by whatever transportation method was available at the time. For example, Medieval hill towns tend to have a radius of about 1 1/2 miles, making a trip from the center to a field on the edge took about 30 minutes to walk. Somehow that 30 minutes seems to be a convenient time for humans to travel- long enough to get into the rhythm or mindset of the travel, short enough not to get bored.
For me, the combination of physical exercise with that 30 minute transition is one of my favorite things about bike commuting. It's a chance to wake up in the morning. It's a way to decompress and put the cares of the day behind me on the way home. I find that I can't concentrate too hard on anything when I'm exercising- partly because I'm having to stay alert in traffic, but even when I run, I just can't focus on specifics. It's sort of a zen thing for me- I can think about things in a kind of foggy big picture way, and my mind can work on a problem without getting too bogged down in the details- it's actually a pretty good way to process things. Even though the ride itself can be stressful in an immediate fight or flight sort of way when someone passes too close, I find I react differently to those traffic interactions than I would conflict off the bike.
How long is your commute? Does it calm you, or stress you out?