Phil Stewart, the managing editor of Running Times, says nothing in the world "satisfies me more than running past a traffic jam. I feel it's a triumph of my body over technology."
Evidently more and more people are enjoying the same kind of satisfaction. The rising price of fuel, gasoline shortages and an increasing interest in physical fitness appear to be combining to create a growing phenomenon in Washington and other large cities: sprots as transportation.
The Post's recent survey of Washington area residents' inclinations on sports, recreation and exercise indicated a trend toward mobility for fun.
Such sports as bicycling, walking, runniing and boating led the lists of things people did in their leisure time.
About 47 percent of the 1,563 respondents to the poll said they bicycled frequently or sometimes; 40 percent ran or jogged. And when respondents were asked what their main sports were,jogging, swimming and walking headed the list, with bicycling a notch behind tennis.
All these sports but tennis are potential transportation sports, but obviously some are more reasonable than others. Just how reasonable became evident during last year's transit strike in New York during which an estimated 250,000 communters got to work by bicycle and hundreds of thousands of others walked or ran.
The guru of the run-to-work movement is a New Yorker. Fred Lebow, 48, gave up his job in the textile business four years ago to devote his fulltime efforts to running.
As voluteer president of the New York Runners Club, Lebow last winter decided to prove how beneficial and easy running as transportation could be. He swore off all other means of transportation for a month.
He ran to work at the Road Runners Club and to all engagements. He kept records that showed he attended six breakfast meetings, 13 luncheons, eight dinners, two concerts, two parties, 18 business meetings and made 27 trips between home and office, all in his running clothes. He covered 238 miles and figures he saved about $200.
He said he felt great when it was over, and had a handle on what the problems associated with running as a principal means of transportation are.
"You can't go to formal restaurants," he said, "and I was occasionally harassed by motorists and fat people. Ti was difficult to find places to change; laundry cost went up; I did so much running to get around that I had to cut down on my regular workouts, which I enjoy."
Generally, Lebow said, his worst problem was with unacceptably bright running clothes. "We must enlist the help of the fashion industry to developing a line of clothing appropriate for running to work and a proper carry-all bag for commuting," he said.
"And," Lebow added, "we must educate the public that while a fit body does perspire, it doesn't smell."
Runners generally agree that the biggest obstacle to using their sport as a means of transportation is the lack of showers and changing facilities in work places. But Stewart said as the number of people who run to or from work or on lunch hours increases, the problems are easing some.
In a story in the August 1979 Running Times, Ed Ayres wrote that "at least 300 major U.S. corporations are now providing shower facilities. The number of smaller companies offering facilities is unknown, but it is definitely growing."
Bicyclist have the same problems but the growth in bicycling continues at a rapid pace.
More new bicycles have been sold in the last eight years in America than new cars -- 88.3 million to 83.1 million -- according to Phil Burke of the Bicycle Manufacturers Association of America.
And an increasing number of these bicycles are being ridden to work in Washington via bike lanes along Rock Creek, down Rhode Island Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard, along the Potomac from Mount Vernon and through Arlington and Alexandria.
Leslie Baldwin of the Washington Area Bicyclists Association said her organization estimates some 30,000 Washington area residents occasionally ride bicycles to work. She believes the number of regular bike commuters has quadrupled in the last four years and she is working to keep the trend going.
Baldwin has started a bicycle commuting course that will be offered through the city's Open University this summer.
"We've found that distances between two and 10 miles are ideal, and that bicycling is at least as fast as Metro and that you save money," she said.
Washington with its wide boulevards and flat landscape, is considered ideal for biking, running and walking.
The physical benefits of a sporting commute are hard to measure. Says Baldwin, "It's purely personal. In my case, bicycling to work is the only exercise I get. If I cut it out I'd really be losing something."
The man who may have worked out the most satisfying way to commute is Bob Sinclair, who 10 years ago joined an interesting get-to-work arrangement -- a canoe pool.
Sinclair tied in with some fellow CIA employes who found it quicker and pleasanter to canoe across the Potomac than to drive over one of the crowded bridges to Virginia.
Now Sinclair, the only remaining regular in the canoe pool is settled into a daily multidimensional sports communting adventure.
When he leave his house in Bethesda workday mornings he mounts a bicycle and rides four miles to the river. He locks the bike and boards his canoe for the paddle to Virginia.
In the tangled wilderness on the western shore he tosses his day pack on his shoulder and sets off on a half-mile hike up the riverbank to his office.
This three-pronged commuting saga saves no time. "Actually this way takes a little less than an hour," he said. "By car it's a half-hour. The saving is in emotional wear and tear.
"A month ago I was coming home late and almost collided with a beaver. The play of light in the woods this morning was gorgeous. I like to look at the wildflowers.
"Going to work by canoe is so much a part of my life it's hard to think of doing it any other way, or of taking it out of my life. People asks me, 'are you still canoeing in?' as if there's some reason to stop."