By Ashley Patterson
Giles Larsen embodies sustainability in all aspects of his life. He lives in a small home, is an avid vegetable and fruit grower, does not own a car and recently installed solar panels on his home. Sustainability is not a buzzword for him, but rather a way of life and it’s worth emulating.
Larsen is the Parks for Produce Coordinator for Wasatch Community Gardens where he works with local community members to develop community gardens on county owned park lands. His gardens range from Magna and West Valley to South Salt Lake and he generally rides everywhere. Occasionally he’ll take TRAX when he needs to quickly travel north or south in the valley but when he’s going east or west, his experience is it is faster to go on two wheels than on transit.
Larsen’s daily commute to the office is about two miles round trip but he has gone as far as 20 miles one way for work. He makes an effort to arrange his day to accommodate bike commuting but he’s also quick to explain that things are not as far as they would seem. “Mentally I’ll think a location is really far way until I ride my bike there and then realize that it’s not that bad, especially when there’s a nice route options like the Jordan River Parkway or even all the new bike lanes around town.”
While Larsen doesn’t own a car, he does have a solar tricycle, which he sometimes uses, mostly for the fun of it. “I really don’t need another vehicle. I have a bike trailer and with that I’ve hauled 18’ lumber, solar panel racking, plants for my garden and all of the produce I used to sell.” (Larsen was a small urban farmer with a CSA for a few years and did the weekly produce delivery via bicycle each week).
Larsen’s main motivation for bike commuting each day is that it is fun and secondarily, he believes in non-harming personal behavior. “Cars have all kinds of social and environmental harms from isolating our communities to climate change.”
He believes that bike commuting isn’t more popular because “there is a hostile cultural attitude toward bikes on the road. It’s changing but still pervasive.” His advice for getting into your grove and commuting to work or school is to find a nice quiet route and ride defensively. “Don’t assume people can see you and wave to everyone you can. Motorists are good people, too and a smile and wave can work wonders.”
Next time you see a cyclist with a feather sticking out of his helmet, carrying what seems to be a huge load for a bicycle, that’s Giles so make sure you smile and wave right back at him.
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