Plus five excuses not to and why they might not matter as much as you think.
- High Gas Prices. This one is a gimme. And don’t forget, gas prices are expected to double. Gas at $3.70 is getting people closer into the city to stop using their cars for their commute. When it reaches $7 or $8, people farther out will see a bike as an attractive way to cut costs.
- Exercise. It is unfortunate, but as our lives become more automated — more time shuffling paper and toggling bits — we become lazier and more sedentary. Humans aren’t designed to sit on their butts all day. They should be out hunting something or working in a field. For those of us who are stuck behind a desk, riding a bike to the desk gives you some exercise every day. The further you live from work, the more exercise you get!
- Endorphins and a Sense of Accomplishment. Exercise produces endorphins and endorphins make you feel good. I’ve been riding like a madman the past few days and I’ve rarely felt better. It doesn’t hurt that I’m averaging 35 or so miles a day. Looking back, despite whatever else is going on in my life (and, really, my life ain’t that bad), I feel like I’ve really accomplished something most people don’t even try.
- Discovering Your Neighborhood. It is amazing the things you notice when you slow down. And lets admit it, for most people cycling is going to be slower than driving to work. But it comes with the benefit of finding new and interesting things along the way. Things that you miss completely when you’re going 45+mph. Even if it is only the silly sayings on the bumper of a parked car.
- Sleep. When you start exercising more, you sleep better. More and better sleep is always helpful. If you have insomnia and you aren’t biking to work, now is the time to start!
Now I can already hear objections, so I think I’ll start with some and my responses.
- It’s Too Far! How far is too far? I admit I would be hard pressed to make a 20 mile one-way commute every day. But I’m beginning to see that it is possible. If you live in the Northeast US, and you work a sizable distance from where you live, you can probably make part of the trip on a train. But consider how much time you spend behind the wheel. An ABC news poll said “For car commuters, it’s an average of 100 minutes”. 100 minutes! This morning, I rode to my church (12 miles). Driving usually takes 25 minutes — when everything is going smoothly. Biking took about 40 minutes.
- I hate riding in traffic. It can be scary the first few times. But once you get out there and ride, you will probably see that most motorists respect you and give you a wide berth. I’m usually to the right of the white line, but drivers here still give me half a lane or more when they pass me. Now, I have run into some nasty drivers, but in all my years of riding, I can think of only two or three incidents where there was any real danger from the driver. Most people are decent and will make room for you and your bike.
- High Gas Prices? I’m Rich! Even if you are rich, most of us could stand to get more exercise.
- But I already go to the Gym! And let me guess… you drive there, right? How far is it? Why not bike to the gym? Or save your gym fees and bike some more. Just keep in mind that if you’re getting a good upper-body workout, that ain’t gonna happen on a bike.
- I’ll end up Sweaty at Work. Yes, you might. And it probably won’t matter. Or you might find a way to make it work. Just keep in mind that plenty of people bike to work and they aren’t all pariahs.