You know what’s fun about reading other cycling blogs? You sometimes read a post that results in you “borrowing” the theme for your own blog. (OK, maybe we could call it stealing the idea) This happened just yesterday when I read a post by my british blogger friend Jude (Cycling with Heels)
In her post she pointed out that in downtown London, cyclist are everywhere. With traffic, lack of parking, and TRAFFIC, it’s just easier to ride. However, further out in the country, where the distances are greater, traffic is less congested, and parking is not an issue, there are fewer cyclists. Driving is just more convenient.
It started me thinking about my OWN travel decisions…
I have, and use regularly, three choices when I have to go somewhere: Car, bike and feet. I know I am lucky, as I am not limited at all for any of these. I’ve biked 200 miles in a day, and hiked 12. In fact, given the age of my car (1997 Ford Escort 304,000 miles on it and I bought it new) I am most limited by my vehicle (it doesn’t like to travel 70 MPH, and I am waiting for day it dies…
So, when it comes to getting somewhere, it is purely a matter of convenience.. But as Jude points out convenience is NOT necessarily distance.
For example. I ride my bike home 3 – 4 days a week from work. 17 miles, One LONG hill at the end, a little over an hour. This works well for me as I get home, my exercise is done, and I get off early enough that I still have the entire evening. However, I RARELY ride into work.
It is actually less time to ride to work than to ride home, since that long uphill is a long downhill. It is closer to an hour. HOWEVER, to be able to do this, I need to wake up an hour earlier. I have learned to like my sleep time, so 430 AM the time I’d have to wake up to get to work) sucks…. Carpooling with Michelle is MUCH more convenient!
Downtown? I prefer walking to riding ANY day. My office is in the outskirts of downtown Seattle. But I will tell you, I can walk the mile or 2 to almost anywhere I want to go, faster, and MUCH cheaper than I can drive, and find (plus pay for) a parking spot. And in the very downtown cooridor, the sidewalk is safer than a bike. Walking still means more exercise! Weather isn’t an issue, rain and cold are why god invented Gortex and Polar Fleece! I get a lot of two footed Christmas shopping done this way during the holidays!
Distance combined with purpose also plays a big part in the equation! It is about 26 miles from work to the Manchild’s house. When it comes to a ride, 26 miles, or hell, even the 52 mile round trip is no big deal. I do these distances all the time. But, on Tuesdays, he and I go out to dinner. Where the driving might take an hour (with rush hour (I know! 1 hour for 26 miles???)) the bike would be closer to 2. THEN we’d have to go somewhere. He is too big to ride on the handlebars, we need the car.
But if we want a good bottle of wine (or 2) I can hop on the bike and crank out the 26 mile round trip to one of our favorite wineries in Woodinville. Or, make it a stop on my 40 or 70 mile training loop and still bring them home. Errands AND exercise at the same time! can’t go wrong.
If traffic is bad, such as at the mall at christmas, the bike is PERFECT for either shopping or returning items.
For long distances, heavy loads, or the need for speed, that’s when the car comes into play. If I had plenty of money and unlimited storage space, I could get the cargo bike and super lightweight speed bike. Alas I have neither, so the car is the ticket. I also refrain from ice riding, on snowy icy weather days when I CAN’T work from home, 4 wheels and a steering wheel are needed.
I guess the reason I share this post is to acknowledge that I am lucky. I am healthy enough, and have enough money to be able to choose amongst these three. I keep riding and keep walking so I can stay that way. I also encourage y’all to consider all three as well. Need something from the store? Is it within walking or cycling distance? Want to go out for lunch? Do we have to drive?
Shoot, in Seattle we just launched the bike share kiosks all over town!
You don’t even need your own bike! Not selecting the car each time can reduce stress, aggravation and save money. Give it at least a thought for your next errand…