One of the biggest developments in my life recently is that I am now a proud… bike commuter! This is a life current mostly dictated by necessity, as I live in Portland, OR without a car and I need to get to work somehow. (And for a city renowned for alternative transport, taking a bus to work would take more than an hour one way. It’s literally a ten minute drive, and a 35 minute bike ride.)

The things I have learned (and am still learning) from bike commuting daily since starting in February could fill a book. Something in particular that strikes me, though, is that I’m much more aware of the city’s air quality. Sometimes I smell industry waste near my house in Northwest. I breathe in car fumes anywhere I go. If I was driving, or even taking a bus, I could shield myself from these unpleasant smells and forget that they exist, and what causes them. Bicycling forces me to confront the pollution that exists even in a “green” city, and because of this it’s more likely I’ll do something about it. Do you think we would have more activists if all of us (not just marginalized communities in the US or developing countries) had to smell, feel, and taste pollution daily?

(Photo shared under a cc license by Richard Masoner)