It seems like a perfect situation: people want to save money, get healthy, be outside, and more. They complain about traffic jams, not finding places to park, the price of gas, and plenty of other things.
People, not speed.
What's the logical answer? Ride your bike instead of driving. It's cheap, it's good exercise, it's fun, you get to see the world around you at a slower pace and actually enjoy it, and you're not nearly as limited by the vagaries of traffic.
But every one of us who has talked openly about riding our bikes to work hears the same reasons that "it's great you can do that, but I could never do it." So let's look at some of these reasons and talk about the answers.
1. I don't have a bike. Well, buy one. It'll pay for itself after you forgo a few fill-ups of your car, and you'll save money by not having to go to the gym, etc. as well.
2. I don't know what kind of bike to get. Ask around. One thing I've discovered since starting this blog is that there are dozens, if not hundreds, of other blogs and forums devoted to biking and bike commuting. Also, everyone knows that bike shop down the road. You know, the one you keep meaning to check out but never found the time. Make the time. There are people inside who would love to help you get a bike that's right for you and get out on the road.
3. I'm scared to ride in traffic. Definitely a valid excuse, as there are some wild drivers out there. And the cell phone revolution hasn't helped matters any by taking drivers away from full attention. But there are steps you can take to get noticed by drivers, things like orange vests or fluorescent jackets, bike lights, and even bike-mounted lasers that put a laser-generated line on the sidewalk for you to indicate the closest that cars should come to you. There are classes you can take to learn the proper techniques for riding in traffic. There are maps that will tell you the best places to bike in your community. There are books that can give you information on techniques for urban riding. The resources are endless.
4. I don't want to get to work all sweaty. Also a valid excuse, especially if you work in a business-wear environment. At the risk of grossing you all out, I sweat a lot. I always have. And I keep a fan at my desk and turn it on for a few minutes each morning after I arrive. Just a few minutes of sitting there takes care of that issue. I also keep deodorant in my bike bags to freshen up when I get to work. In the REALLY hot weather, I wear a t-shirt while riding and then take a moment to change into my work shirt when I get to work. For those of you who wear hair gel, there are sweat-resistant hair gels now. I use one by Redken that works very nicely. Some workplaces have or are near locations with showers. And there are even garment bags for carrying a suit to work on your bike if you want to change clothes completely.
5. It's not convenient. I find it more convenient than driving. I get exercise and transportation all in one. I have no need to pay for a health club membership. Factor exercise time and commuting time into the equation and you'll find, I think, that you're actually saving time by riding.
Do you have excuses that you'd like to share? Let's explore them, and if we get enough we'll do a second (or more) post about the excuses we hear!
People, not speed.