By Tom Lang, co-leader of Green Lake & Wallingford Safe Streets
One of the best parts of commuting by bike is whizzing past a long line of cars stuck in traffic. I love that. But—hands down—the very best part of my commute is the smells.
Once upon a time, not too long ago, my commute from the far side of Fremont to the U District was along the Burke Gilman Trail—a safe, comfortable and flat bike ride. Some mornings, I would get to see a sunrise over Lake Washington, framed by the Aurora Bridge. Most afternoons, I saw rollerbladers, joggers, and families outside enjoying the day.
I also passed by the Theo Chocolate Factory and Fremont Brewing. On Monday and Wednesday mornings, I would be treated to both rich, chocolaty smells and fragrant hops being turned into delicious beers. Most days, it was the highlight of my day.
The North Seattle Transfer Station was also on the route, so I also enjoyed whiffs of garbage and stinky things. But for most of the five years between 2011 and 2016, the Transfer Station was closed for renovation. And the re-opened station does a much better job of containing the trash smells.
I recently traded in my commute for a downtown slog, through traffic and past parked cars, up hills and into Little Saigon. But, here too, there are smells to be grateful for. I pass the Tsue Chong fortune cookie factory in the morning (that distinctively sweet smell reminding me of birthday dinners past) and several blocks of Vietnamese restaurants, with mouth-watering aromas of garlic and fish sauce. On the way home, I pass Pagliacci Pizza, where I try to forget about all the other surrounding smells of diesel and oil and just...focus...on...the...pizza for at least a few minutes each day.
On Monday and Wednesday mornings, I would be treated to both rich, chocolaty smells and fragrant hops ...
I sometimes wonder if I’m alone in appreciating the smells of my commute. Do other people have an olfactorily-blessed bike commute? What kinds of things am I missing out on? Where should I move to in order to maximize my convenience-to-smelliness ratio? I NEED TO KNOW.
Do other people have an olfactorily-blessed bike commute?