Bicycle commuting is mainly met with excuses people come up with NOT to do it. They cite safety, though it is actually MUCH safer, done properly, than driving. They cite "I'm out of shape," despite it being a low physical stress activity due to its efficiency. They talk about sweat, despite there being many proven ways to avoid that as a real obstacle. They talk about heat, or cold, despite clothing being a proven technology. I'm surprised they don't cite fear of alien abduction as a reason! As a matter of fact, they cite just about every reason one could imagine other than the REAL reason they don't commute; namely that they really don't enjoy riding a bike very much and would rather spend their time doing other things. Perhaps they simply think riding a bike is childish, or something only poor losers do. I have no idea why they feel compelled to make up nonsense excuses instead of just saying "I don't like bikes or biking." Perhaps it is the same sort of guilt that accompanies not eating vegetables.
OTOH, there ARE solid reasons why people don't bike commute. Some are expected to use their motor vehicle as part of their work, or they work at multiple sites too far apart to get from one to another on a bike. Those people cannot bike commute. Some are told by management that bike commuting is not acceptable. THEY cannot bike commute unless they find another job. Some are threatened by family members and THEY may not be able to bike commute.
And then, there are gray areas. I know bike commuters that ride regardless of how cold or hot it gets, and even a crazy few that actually seek out electrical storms, but most of us have limits beyond which we rarely ride. And then, there's distance. The problem with distance is not what most people think. It's not the physical effort, or the safety, it is the TIME. Viewed objectively, an hour of bike commuting is an hour much more usefully spent than an hour of motor vehicle commuting, but even if you throw in gym workout time, there comes a distance beyond which the saddle time becomes difficult to justify.
- Under a mile - This is a good walk distance that is hardly worth biking.
- Under five miles - Bike it! This is the sweet spot for bike commuting unless you are determined to make up a phony excuse. Factoring in exercise, this distance range saves time compared to motor commuting.
- Under ten miles - This is practical for almost everyone, but mild dedication is needed. Up to this point, when you combine bike commuting and exercise, you are probably achieving a net savings by bike commuting.
- Under fifteen miles - You are well beyond the routine bike commuter. On the other hand, you get good saddle time for only a reasonable time penalty.
- Under twenty miles - We're talking about serious commute time
- Over twenty miles - You get to the outer fringe of bike commuters, and maybe beyond.
Even if you live too far from work to bike commute every day, there are alternatives. Some people can multi-mode between a bike and transit, though buses are rarely faster than simply biking the whole way. Some can drive part way to work and bike part way. If nothing else, you can bike commute some days and drive some days. Remember, if you live twenty miles from work, and bike commute ONE day a week, you are bike commuting the same distance as someone that lives four miles from work and does it every day.
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