Cyclist of the Month: Robert Landis

Age: 55
Occupation: principal, Capitol Media
Hometown: Port Angeles, Washington
Degree: B.S. in Accounting, University of Puget Sound
Commute: Northgate to University District (11 miles), or to Capitol Hill (21 miles)
Wheels: custom Rodriguez

Two days after his divorce, Robert Landis ventured on an epic 1,100 mile bike tour from Eugene, Oregon to Hopland, California—a solo trip twice the distance of his past tours.

The trip was a milestone in Robert’s life, giving him a new direction: to work for himself.

Landis discovered cycling in 1991, riding to his post office box on an old mountain bike. His early riding included multi-day tours of the Oregon Coast, Northern California, Southwest Utah, and Provence, France. These “credit card tours” were financed by an unglamorous, uninspiring corporate job doing “competitive intelligence” for a “turnkey software manufacturer,” whose main client was Microsoft.

After separating from his wife, Robert found peace and tranquility in cycling alone. His bike became his constant companion—for trips to the grocery store, to visit friends, and for other errand runs. “I consider myself a transportation cyclist. I use my bike like most folks use their autos.”

The same year of his divorce, Landis co-founded Capitol Media, a full-service web design and online marketing agency.

In 2005, while riding down Yesler Way, Robert totaled his bike when he rear-ended a car at a four-way stop. He admits the accident was his fault—he assumed the vehicle would continue moving at a constant speed.

Robert still bike commutes 21 miles to and from his Office Nomads space in Capitol Hill. And two days each week, he bikes 5.5 miles from Northgate to Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe in the U. District.

Yet the car-bike accident is not Robert’s scariest cycling memory. Instead he cites riding through hail during a violent lightning storm at 11,500 feet in Cedar Breaks, Utah; followed by triple-trailer log trucks along Highway 101 buzzing him at 90 mph.

He also bikes to client meetings. “I generally drive to my first client appointment, but after that most folks are very excited to see me arrive on my bike. I’ve even gone mountain biking with a client at Tiger Mountain.”

He ports his three-pound MacBook Air and paper files in an Ortlieb waterproof messenger bag. “It’s important not to show up soaking wet,” so Robert highly recommends fenders and quality raingear.

In the last 66 days, Robert logged 955 commute miles, including some snowy commutes, at His efforts have saved 43 gallons of gas, $88.28, and offset 831 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. Robert jokes that he also saves his employer from paying the Seattle Commuter Tax

Ed note: Persons and firms that engage in business within the Seattle city limits are subject to the Employee Hours Tax: $25 per full-time employee per year (technically, $0.01302 per employee hour). There is a deduction for hours worked by employees who commute to work at least 80% of the time by other than single-occupancy vehicles—including mass transit, carpooling, walking, and/or bicycling; telecommuters and people who work out of home offices may also qualify for the commuter deduction.

Since March 2003, Robert recorded almost 10,000 miles (including 5,000 miles since June 2007) on his Rodriguez. His goal for 2009 is to reduce his car driving mileage from 1,000 miles per month to less than 500.

World Commute is a not-for-profit, free social-network website that encourages, promotes and tracks the use of non-motorized transportation. The site allows users to create a profile and record non-motorized trips–including daily commutes or errands. Users can also record recreational and fitness activities to score “health points.”

Scott Marlow was marketing director for Cascade Bicycle Club from 2001-2005. The Club record-holder for the shortest commute (under six seconds), Marlow works from his home office in West Seattle. Nominate a cyclist of the month!