Four Ways Bike Commuting in Chattanooga is Different than DC

Jasmine biking on Pennsylvania Ave in Washington, DC
Me in the bike lanes in the center of Pennsylvania Ave, Washington, DC

I’m a big fan of bicycling. It’s basically my favorite way to get around. I first got into it when I lived in Alexandria, VA, when I first started biking on the Mt. Vernon trail and eventually flirted with commuting into DC via bike. When I moved to Capitol Hill, I rode to work sporadically for about a year.

Now that I’ve moved to Chattanooga, TN, and have been riding my bike to work almost every day for four months, I can’t help but think about the differences between my commute now vs. in Washington, DC.

  1. Hills. Chattanooga has some pretty dastardly ones. I thought I was in shape in DC, but turns out I was wrong! My thighs have about 30% more muscle now, thanks to powering my heavy steel bike around the hilly terrain here. Chattanooga’s awesome pedestrian bridge also has an almost imperceptible incline that I definitely perceive when I’m trying to bike up it!
  2. Traffic. I stopped riding for a while in DC because the traffic (especially around construction sites) got so scary, but downtown Chattanooga is nothing. Because there’s so little traffic here, most cars just go right around me–they give me a wide berth and everything!
  3. Number of bike commuters. Days when I see two other people riding their bikes in the morning are remarkable, because hardly anyone does it here in Chattanooga. In DC, it was getting really popular and I would often be at a stoplight with 3-5 other cyclists in work clothes.
  4. The smells. I honestly had never thought much about smells on my commute before, other than someone cutting their grass or after it rained, but Chattanooga? Chattanooga smells delicious. In the morning, I smell fresh donuts. On my commute home, it’s BBQ. Is it possible to gain weight from smelling the air here??

Bike commuting in Chattanooga = awesome. I loved it in DC, but it’s even more enjoyable here. People smile and say hi to me in the mornings, and there’s a group of cyclists that has breakfast on the pedestrian bridge on Fridays. It’s given me a whole new list of things to appreciate about my new hometown.