Is anyone lucky enough to commute by bicycle?

March 9, 2012
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Now that the weather has been been beautiful,  I’ve been spending less time on the spin bike and more time on my road bike, riding on paths,  and around my neighborhood.

One thing I haven’t been able to do that I wish I could do, though: Bike commute to work.

At our office, one of the co-workers would often bike into work from his home, about 10 minutes away. And on my drive into work  I often pass by the same woman, riding in the opposite direction, with matching neon t-shirt and knee socks. (You rock it, lady.) I’m sure many people ride their bikes by necessity, of course — I knew someone who had to ride his bike even in the dead of winter because he didn’t have a driver’s license. But I would love the option to do it when I wanted to.

The main thing that stops me is safety. Google Maps says the route is about 11 miles from my front door to my office door, which I could probably do in less than an hour if traffic wasn’t that bad. But there really aren’t any back roads that would be safe for driving during rush hour. I’ve seen how crazily people drive up and down my street, and I surely wouldn’t want to take my life in my hands by hopping on my bike on that main drag.

So, what needs to happen to make bike commuting a reality? I’ve seen cities that have dedicated bike lanes, which is a huge first step. Visiting Montreal a few years ago, I saw that they block off their bike lanes with cement barriers for further protection. (And Montreal is just as cold, maybe colder, than Indianapolis in the winter!) I’ve also heard that education goes a long way for bike safety, but I don’t know that anyone would really pay attention. I still get honked at when I ride my bike in the road. It’s perfectly legal, people!

And, of course, what happens when you get to work and you’re all sweaty? Few workplaces have showers, but you can always change your clothes and freshen up in the bathroom. Would your employer allow that?

Here’s a list of 60 benefits of bike commuting. Among my favorites: No carbon footprint, which means cleaner air. Healthy exercise. Cheap — you’re not paying for gas. Save the animals — fewer roadkill incidents (I hadn’t even thought of this one!). And, of course, fun. I love to ride.

What do you think? Do you ride your bike to work? What makes it possible? If you don’t, what would have to happen for it to be a possibility?

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  • Captain Howdy

    Brenda, I live in Alabama, the 47th least bicycle state according to Bikeleague.org. I get NO respect on the bike. I have been honked at, had profanities hurled my way, and even had one idiot turn around to come back and ask me why I was on the road. I have a car, I live twelve miles from work, have to travel heavy traffic, and try to ride my bike to work two to three times a week.
    Truth is, MOST drivers are courteous, nice people who willingly share the road and really don’t want to run over you. Don’t let the one percent deter you.
    Another truth is that you have the right to be on the road, CLAIM YOUR LANE!!! Don’t try to ride the curb, or on the sidewalk, be confident, they can smell fear.
    As for sweaty, yea, that was a ruff one for me. I was comforted when I read that sweat does not stink. It is the reaction with microbes on your skin that cause the odour. So I shower before the commute, give myself time to stop sweating at work, dry off, wipe down with an anti microbial baby wipe, and get dressed, no problem at all.
    I believe the key to increasing safety for all of us is to get more cyclist on the road. If bikes were commonplace, if they were everywhere, the general public would come to terms with them and relax. It is the novelty of it that puts people off, “I ain’t seen no bike on the road, so they must not spose to be there.”
    Try to do the ride to work and back on a Saturday or Sunday with less traffic, see how it feels, get the route down, find the escape routes. You will be glad you did.
    I would also invite you to check out twospoke.com, it is a bicycle forum full of knowledge, insight, experiance and comraderie.
    Enjoy the ride,
    Captain Howdy