Alex Chadwick Takes a Sweaty Ride

The Day to Day host has been beating gas prices, even before they were this high; he pedals to work. He takes us along his 5-mile journey from his home to NPR West and shares his thoughts on why it's the ideal way to start a day.

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ALEX CHADWICK, host:

It's five o'clock, Carolyn's still asleep upstairs. And I'm just starting out. Here I go.

This is National Ride Your Bike to Work Week, culminating Friday Ride Your to Bike to Work Day. So I got an early start. If you get out on your bike, you'll find it's not so bad going to work this way. You always arrive in a good mood.

I often ride to work. It's still dark when I leave home at 5 o'clock, or so, the street lights made humble by an enormous moon hanging over a marshy tidal area, on the way out to the real city streets. Even there, though, it's quiet. I confess that I don't always stop for the stop signs. At this hour of the morning, there's absolutely nobody on the road. People look disbelieving when I say I bike to work in Los Angeles, but the terrain is mostly flat, and the California climate is perfect for this. It's easy virtue here, but still some virtue. The World Watch Institute says one four-mile roundtrip by bicycle saves about 15 pounds of pollutants in the atmosphere.

I read about bicycle commuting a little bit before I started out today. Number one city in the country for bicycle commuting: Portland, Oregon; 3.4 percent of commuters go by bicycle. Nationally, the average is 0.4 percent, so out of a hundred people, 99 are in their cars. Less than half of one is on a bicycle.

I measured once when I drove; it's five and a half miles to work. I don't understand how this is, but it takes 20 minutes in the car, and only a little more than 30 on the bike. I'm not peddling that fast. Ooooh, that's not good. I shouldn't have run that one. I wear a vest with a flashing light, but the best protection is to be aware and use a little caution. And don't ride in the rain.

(Soundbite of squeaking bicycle brakes)

Ah. I'm at Ducayne and Culvert Boulevards, I'm going to cross over Culver here. It's less than a mile to NPR West from here. And there's a familiar car slowing down.

STEVE PROFFITT (Day to Day Producer): Oh look, there's Alex Chadwick! Riding his bicycle to work. He's got a little blinking light on his back.

CHADWICK: It's, its Mr. Steve. Hey, how are you doing out there?

PROFFITT: Good, you look good on your bike.

CHADWICK: Hey, I'll see you later. The whole sky is light now. I turn past the Culver City Vehicle Depot, and coast down the driveway to our building. At this hour, it's always going to be a good day.

PROFFITT: Good morning, Alex.

CHADWICK: Steve, good morning.

PROFFITT: How was the ride in?

CHADWICK: Well, it was pretty good. It's always a good ride in, actually. So many birds that are really out at this hour are singing. You just kind of absorb a lot more on your bicycle. OK, let's go do some radio now.

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