You Don’t Have To Be A Cyclist To Love Biking
A few days ago I was browsing the internet while I could have been doing something much more productive (as usual) and I came across an article titled ‘Why cyclists make great employees.’ So of course I clicked over to it – who wouldn’t want to see how they can spin a hobby in their favor? But I realized as soon as I read it that the points they made – cyclists being meticulous, competitive, etc – were 100% not relevant to me.
And that, friends, is when it sort of dawned on me that I’m not actually a cyclist – I just love riding my bike.
To be honest, that epiphany came with a little whoosh of relief. Years ago when I was considering riding my bike to work, in the back of my mind I had this little worry that I’d never fit into the ‘cyclist’ mold. That in order to be legit I’d need to get some of those padded-butt shorts, a neon jersey and a set of those pedals that require special shoes. In a sense I was right. I’ve never felt the need for padded shorts (I have enough natural padding back there, thankyouverymuch), and now that my commute is only a couple miles I just bike in whatever I’m planning to wear to work. But I’ve also realized that I can still love biking and care about bike related issues like education & infrastructure without going gung-ho on the sport aspect of it. I guess cycling vs biking for fun is sort of like the difference between running in a 5k race, or running toward an adorable puppy. Same thing, but the motivations and goals are entirely different. And that’s ok.
Awesome, I don’t have to replace my entire wardrobe with spandex in order to love biking. Good thing because it’s actually turned out to be one of the more productive hobbies I’ve ever picked up! So even though I don’t give a hoot about cycling as a competitive sport, I do love it because the bottom line is it makes my life better in a lot of ways.
Biking > driving
My number one complaint about our old house was that it was too far from work. Lexington isn’t a big city so even though we lived on the outskirts it was still only about 9 miles to work. Depending on the weather and any events going on, in driving terms that meant anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour and a half each way for my commute. I averaged at least an hour a day sitting in a car, in traffic, being bored or annoyed – or both. And I got to waste gasoline the whole time I was doing it, oh joy! The switch to biking gave me a predictable 35 minute commute, and along the way I got to get some fresh air and enjoy my surroundings. You’d be surprised how amazing a tobacco storage warehouse smells! We also have some amazing murals around here, and going 12mph gives me so much more time to appreciate them than driving along doing 35mph.
It’s more time efficient
Our new house is closer to my office, of course, so it only takes about 10 minutes to bike. But even the long commute was a much better use of my time than driving. Like I said, it was a lot more predictable. Even a home basketball game – which reduces downtown Lexington traffic to an absolute crawl – didn’t make me more than 5 minutes later getting home. I also don’t have to deal with finding a parking spot at work, which sometimes meant 15 minutes of driving around only to park half a mile away from the office.
On top of that, biking is a great workout, which means you can just skip that hour on the elliptical.
It’s cheaper & healthier
Speaking of workouts – a recent study found that bike commuters have lower risks of death from cardiovascular disease, cancer and all-cause mortality than people who use passive modes of transportation. Obviously that could be partly because healthy people are more likely to bike commute, but it’s still food for thought. I think we can at least all agree that being active is good for you, and biking is one way to do that.
And oh, the cost savings! Even if I ignore all the future medical expenses I might be avoiding, the immediate savings are pretty nice too. Around the time we moved, the lease period on my husband’s car expired. Since I decided to bike to work full time, we downsized to one car. Poof, one car payment and insurance, gone. Since I didn’t need to park at work anymore I got to ditch my parking pass too, which is several hundred dollars a year. I never have to pay for parking downtown, and since we walk/bike most places (my husband works from home) we go at least 3 weeks between filling up the car with gas. If the worst were to happen and my bike got stolen or destroyed, a new bike (say $500-750) is waaaay cheaper than car repairs/insurance premium increase.
Almost anyone can do it
I think one of the best things about biking for transportation is that almost anyone can do it, barring any health issues of course. Compared to a car a bike is inexpensive and easy to maintain, and you don’t need a license or insurance to ride a bike. They’re good for making up the difference in areas that don’t have good mass transit systems (ahem, central Kentucky). They’re also great as a transportation option for people who can’t drive for whatever reason. I’ve got several family members & friends who’ve been medically restricted from driving at various points, and having a way to get to work and around town is essential. That’s why I think bike infrastructure and education are so important for everyone. Lexington just got funding from the Complete Streets Coalition to help make walking and biking safer for everyone, so clearly I’m in the right place!
Are you thinking about making the switch to biking around town? I’ve got a few more bicycle-related posts up my sleeve, so if there’s anything you want to know about it leave a comment below!
Header image: My shiny new Momentum iNeed Street bike ($420) featuring the Po Campo Kinga handlebar bag ($44.99, kindly provided by the brand – stay tuned for more info on it and other super-cute bike accessories soon!)