Paddleboarding is one way Bruce Dawson has commuted to work this month. Photo courtesy of Bruce Dawson

Paddleboarding is one way Bruce Dawson has commuted to work this month. Photo courtesy of Bruce Dawson

Kirkland’s Dawson searches for 39 different commute methods

A Kirkland man is challenging himself to commute using a different method for each day of the month.

Whether it’s a bike, bus or balloon, Kirkland resident Bruce Dawson is searching for alternative ways to commute to work as part of his 2018 Commute Challenge.

Dawson hasn’t gone as far as to use a balloon to commute, but he’s made his 1.25-mile commute to Google’s Kirkland campus via stilts, water skis, a unicycle, a paddleboard and 23 other methods, all in an effort to make his commute more interesting and less car-centric.

“North Americans spend a lot of time in their cars, always taking their cars to work and driving alone,” Dawson said. “Part of this is also just demonstrating that there are other ways to get to work, and some of them are not practical of course, but I’m taking a carpool to work tomorrow…ultimately it makes you healthier and happier. Every day I do this, I feel so happy when I get into work.”

THE IDEA

Dawson first completed the month-long challenge in April 2017. He often used about six different commute methods to get to work because he lives near his workplace: walking, running, cycling, unicycling, inline skating and taking a bus.

The diversity of his typical commute methods planted an idea in Dawson’s head and he would make jokes to a colleague about using a different method for each day of a month. That was in March 2017.

“I [joked] a couple of times and at one point the co-worker just kind of got annoyed and said, ‘Put up or shut up…You should actually go do it,’” Dawson said.

So Dawson set out to complete the challenge. And he succeeded. He used 20 different methods to get to work for each weekday of the month. Out of them all, Dawson concluded that swimming in 46 degree water was the least practical.

“Zero stars, would not swim again,” Dawson wrote in a blog post. “Swimming was the only commute method that was simultaneously unpleasant, inefficient, and potentially dangerous – it’s the trifecta.”

The 2018 Commute Challenge was moved to September because of the cold weather during his first challenge. Despite this, he maintains that water skiing was the most fun he had commuting to work during last year’s challenge.

“That was just such a great way to start the day,” Dawson said, “Water skiing was amazing.”

Dawson added that he was surprised at how well the challenge went the first time. He had been saving his bike and a bus ride as reserve methods if any of the other ones fell through, but he didn’t need to use it.

ANOTHER CHALLENGE

Dawson quickly decided to do the challenge again after the success of the first challenge and the first thing he changed was the time of year. He began this month with a paddleboard commute and is still going strong more than halfway through the challenge.

“I had some fun experiences with people,” Dawson said. “The first day of this one, I had a total stranger help me carry my paddleboard up the hill to Google. That’s kind of cool that you can still get help from random people these days.”

Dawson also added an extra rule that he couldn’t use methods from the 2017 challenge and he said he’s uncertain if he’ll succeed this time.

“Neighbors, friends and coworkers have been very helpful,” Dawson said. “I keep hoping some random person will reach out to me and say, ‘Hey I’d love to lend you my roller skis or give you a ride on a jet ski sometime this month.’ That hasn’t happened yet, but I’m still open to those options.”

Dawson is reaching out to his community for help and different commute ideas. Specifically, he’s looking for roller skis, roller skates, a giant pogo stick, drift skates or a jet ski ride that locals would be willing to lend him.

Additionally, Dawson is open to any ideas that are a balanced between practical, whimsical, fun and “not-too-deadly.”

COMMUTES CAN BE FUN

Dawson has been documenting his commute challenge in an effort to encourage his fellow community members to consider using alternate commute methods. His progress for the 2018 challenge can be tracked online at tinyurl.com/commutechallenge2018 or twitter.com/hashtag/commutechallenge?src=hash.

Additionally, locals can email him with ideas at commutechallengekirkland@gmail.com.

“Life is too short to spend it stuck in traffic, or looking for parking,” Dawson wrote in a blog post. “While not everybody has the diversity of commute options that I have, I think that there are some people who commute alone in a car because they haven’t fully considered the costs (financial, societal, environmental) or because they haven’t considered the health and joy benefits of trying other options.”

While taking the bus or a carpool to work may take longer than a solo drive, Dawson points out that those methods may be a better use of time.

“If you can read a book or talk to a friend while commuting then that’s progress,” he wrote. “I use my bike and other non-car methods to commute partly because it’s better for the world (fewer greenhouse gases, one less car on the road, one less parking spot used) but mostly because it makes me happier.”


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@kirklandreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kirklandreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

Bruce Dawson has had his bike ready as a backup method if he runs out of commuting ideas this month. Photo courtesy of Bruce Dawson

Bruce Dawson has had his bike ready as a backup method if he runs out of commuting ideas this month. Photo courtesy of Bruce Dawson

More in Life

2021 Lexus RX 350L. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2021 Lexus RX 350L

By Larry Lark, contributor It’s always a good day when a Lexus… Continue reading

2021 Chevrolet Blazer. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2021 Chevrolet Blazer

By Larry Lark, contributor When it comes to certain car models they… Continue reading

The Cadillac CT4 is designed to appeal to a new generation of Cadillac buyers with its athletic design and astute driving dynamics. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2020 Cadillac CT4 Premium Luxury

By Larry Lark, contributor With apologies to Oldsmobile, “the 2020 CT4 Premium… Continue reading

2021 Mercedes E-350 luxury sedan. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2021 Mercedes E-350 luxury sedan

By Larry Lark, contributor Mercedes-Benz occupies rarified air in the automobile pantheon.… Continue reading

Still from the movie
Indie film starring Lake Washington student now available

The horror film “They Reach” was shot in 2018 around King County.

Deception Pass State Park. Deception Pass is a strait separating Whidbey Island from Fidalgo Island. File photo
Free Park Days in 2021 start in January

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission will again offer 12 free… Continue reading

Courtesy photo/Artists Sunday
Artists Sunday, following Black Friday, puts out call for participants before Nov. 29

The movement has a website that offers a free directory of artists and art organizations that participate

courtesy photo
Students helping students, teachers during the pandemic with free tutoring program

Two Northshore School District students have launched a website for free tutoring classes for elementary school kids, with plans to expand

File photo from September 2016, when hundreds participated in the Alzheimer’s Association’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s event at Redmond Town Center.
Eastside Walk to End Alzheimer’s Oct. 10

Similar to other walk events in the region, Alzheimer’s Association encourages registered users to walk in a location of their choice

Forbes Creek Park. Courtesy photo/City of Kirkland
Kirkland reopening playgrounds

The city states there’s been an increase in compliance in masking and social distancing in the city, leading to the reopening

Diya Garg, left, distributes Mighty Crayon recycles crayons and coloring books for Seattle students. Courtesy photo/Diya Garg.
Getting crayons to kids runs in the family

Eastside nonprofit Mighty Crayon is relaunched by younger sister of founder, repurposing used restaurant crayons