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Pedal power

Duncan Green has been riding his bike since before it was cool

DUNCAN GREEN: He's now in his third year coordinating the Thurston County Bicycle Commuter Contest. Photo courtesy of Trudes Tango

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It just makes sense that Duncan Green coordinates the Thurston County Bicycle Commuter Contest: A bicycle has always been his primary mode of transportation.

"In high school, I pretty much rode my bike to school every day, including through the snow and ice and stuff like that," says Green - and he grew up in Chicago. "I didn't get a car until I was 23."

In 1976, while he was a student at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Green wrote a paper about the environmental benefits of biking versus driving a car. But that's not why he rides just about everywhere he goes.

"The primary reason that I ride my bike to get around is just that I enjoy it so much more than being in a car," he says. "It's just so much more fun and pleasant and less frustrating."

Every May the Bicycle Commuter Contest aims to give people another reason to ride, with prizes, drawings and events. A project of Intercity Transit, the contest is open to anyone who lives and/or works in Thurston County.

Although he's also a professional photographer, Green has spent much of his career working with bicycles in roles from mechanic to tour guide. Now, he's in his third year coordinating the contest and although he still has a car, Green drives it only about once a week, generally for a long journey or when he has to carry something heavy.

"Whether you think about it or not, every time you go somewhere, you make a decision about how to travel," he says. "You may make that decision once for many trips: You buy a car; you get in the car every time you need to go somewhere.

"I'm more likely to make the decision about how to travel every time I go somewhere. My default decision is that I'll ride my bike, but if the weather is bad enough or there's some other reason I might not want to ride my bike, I think about it."

And if all that doesn't convince you that Green ought to be the poster boy for the contest as well as its coordinator, there's more: Before he took a job persuading people to commute by bike, he persuaded then-friend and now-wife Trudes Tango to become a bike commuter, too.

"It was a lot just by example," he says. "And I did encourage her and offer to fix her bike for her.

"There was a conversation at one point where I asked her, ‘You live how far from work and you're driving every day?' " he adds, raising his eyebrows.

And now - because, after all, Green is a photographer and a most devoted husband - Tango is the contest's poster girl.

Thurston County Bicycle Commuter Contest

Sign up by May 6 and log miles throughout May; $5 fee for ages 18 and older, or

Earth Day Market Ride

Saturday, April 23, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; free
Ride with other cyclists from your neighborhood to Heritage Park Fountain and then to the Olympia Farmers Market to register for the contest. Miles from this ride count toward the contest total. or

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