I first started riding the bus in college to get to an internship in downtown Kansas City, Mo. from a neighborhood south of Waldo. I continued using the bus to commute to work in the Westside neighborhood and to the Historic Northeast when I was learning to use digital fabrication tools and vector drawing software at MCC’s old business and technology campus in the East Bottoms. I loved being able to hop on the bus and relax, listen to a podcast, read or take a short nap.
I started biking more and more, and I finally upgraded from my old and rusty 80s Schwinn varsity to a new-to-me Masi Speciale Commuter. I started commuting on my bike and bus, often time busing to my destination and biking back.
More than ten years later, I’ve now got a small family and house and live in midtown Kansas City, Mo. and work in Overland Park. I was still riding the bus to work and biking back two to three times a week depending on weather, but then the pandemic hit. Since then, I have been biking to and from work more often, and I switched from a single speed road bike to a mountain bike! I love the ability to hop on and off trails on a much comfier ride due to front shocks, chunky wheels and seat suspension. About half of my commute is on the Gillham Cycle Track and Trolley Track Trail, and the other half I weave through quiet neighborhoods.
I ride to slow down, to get functional exercise, for a mental health break, to hear the birds chirping and kids playing, to save money, to be a single car family and to try to reduce carbon footprint.
I still drive our Prius two to three days a week, but I’m looking forward to the day when we have more bus, train, trolley routes and protected bike lanes to make it possible to have a green commute any day of the week.
Written by Nick Ward-Bopp, Makerspace Facilitator at the Johnson County Library
Join the Green Commute Challenge
Between Sept. 19 and Oct. 28, Kansas City area commuters like Nick will be logging their green commutes as part of the Green Commute Challenge. Now in its 14th year. the Green Commute Challenge inspires commuters on employer, university and community-based teams to use more sustainable alternatives to driving alone to work, including biking, walking, transit, scooter, carpool and vanpool. In addition to improving area air quality and decreasing traffic congestion, logging trips earns points, which can win prizes from local businesses. Learn more or register at RideshareKC.org.