Robert Anderson - Real Life on a Bike
Ellicott City, Columbia, Maryland
By Dena Jackson
The life of Robert Anderson, a practical cyclist, blogger and commuter, changed three years ago after his doctor told him he was pre-diabetic. Some years earlier, Anderson had moved across the country for a career change as a software executive at Vectorworks in Columbia, Maryland.
“When I got the doctor’s bad news, I took up a cycle-commuting habit to improve my health. Now biking is a surprisingly large part of my life and I am surprised how much I enjoy and look forward to it,” he said.
A favorite part of Anderson’s commute is the hills.
“I have five hills going each way, and I can enjoy the vegetation, birds and sky while getting a real workout, and getting my heart rate up,” he said.
In his experience, Anderson said Columbia’s motorists are mostly reasonable and polite, and annoyances on his commute are few. Once in awhile, however, he is chagrined by the occasional car full of young adolescent boys who like to get right up behind him and honk. “It can be a definite nuisance,” said Anderson.
Anderson is so passionate about cycling, he initiated a great bike commuting blog, practicalcyclist.blogspot.com, and plans to get his League of American Bicyclists Instructor certification so he can open a cycle commuting class at his local community college. Anderson believes sharrows and improved pavement practicalcyclist.blogspot.com could contribute to a more enjoyable commute.
“Bikes need better paving than cars do. As for people doing great work, I admire the nearby folks in Washington, DC at Bikes for the World (bikesfortheworld.org) and think they are doing fantastic work,” he said.
When reading his highly compelling and professional blog, where in one post Anderson salivates over New York City cycling charts, one wonders at Anderson’s exact definition of being a “practical cyclist.”
“I think of practical cycling as cycling that displaces car miles: commuting, errands, anything that you do on a daily and needful basis,” he said.
Two years ago, Anderson struggled to get in 3,000 miles in a year, including recreational rides. Last year, he was able to get almost 3,700 purely “practical” miles under his belt.
Were you to ask Anderson what being a “self-propelled” person means, he might quote you a familiar advertising pitch:
“A decent commuting bike: $700; panniers, pump, lock and patch kit: $100; helmet, gloves and bike shoes: $150; the self-esteem you get from being self-propelled and always being able to wear your ‘skinny jeans’: priceless.”