A few months ago when I started my bike commuting in earnest people were constantly hovering around me and doubting my choice apart from the obvious, physical well-being. There are however several other great reasons that makes biking worth the while, here’s my top five.
1. It’s just as fast
I read somewhere that the average commute takes around 45 minutes on a global level. In that time, even if you are biking quite slowly, you can cross great distances. Most public transport routes are designed in a hub and spoke kind of way and to get from point A to point B, which might be only 10 kilometers from each other might require you to take three buses with a total distance of 25 kilometers. With a bike you can always take the most direct route and get to work in the same time as you would with public transport.
Sure, a car might be faster – and will be faster if the distance is over 25 kilometers and you’re not fully sure of your fitness, but it’ll cost you a lot more and you might spend the saved time looking for a parking lot. I think the most important thing to remember is that you don’t have to bike the whole way, most public transportation allows you to take your bike with you on the train or the bus allowing you to maximize your efficiency according to your trip and condition.
2. It’s cheaper
Public transportation isn’t always cheap. For me, it costs close to a hundred euros per month for unlimited travel, so by biking every day I can buy a new bike twice a year or a really good bike once a year. Not even to mention a car, which are super expensive just to own: insurance payments, maintenance, fuel, cleaning and many, many other hidden costs that I won’t even go into this time. These are just the direct costs, let’s think about the indirect ones.
Previously you went to the gym to bike on an exercycle for two hours three times a week and paid hundreds of your hard earned money, when now you’re doing it every day while commuting. Personally I’m burning close to 3000 calories per day while biking to work, of course, my trip is quite long and intense, but you’ll still burn a kilo of fat per week just by biking to work.
I’ve been without a car now for 14 months, and I’ve saved so much money that you wouldn’t believe it!
3. You can control your time better
Like with a car, when you’re biking you can leave whenever you want. You’re not tied down to schedules and won’t have to wait for connecting lines. You miss the first bus, you usually miss the second one and you might be on the road for an hour longer. Not cool. So you can leave at the same time, that’s awesome. What’s even more awesome is that there is no such thing as bike traffic. Unless you live in Beijing or somewhere, but still – the chance of you getting seriously stuck in traffic while riding a bike is like winning the lottery while you’re being struck by lightning.
When you’re able to leave when you want, you know your average speed (it will only get better with time) and there is no traffic, you can easily estimate how long your commute will take.
Again, these are the direct things. The hidden bonus sectors are even better: When you’re not stuck with normal routes, you can go by that little brick and mortar shop you really love and get your groceries done while on the way home. When you do your exercise on the bike while going to work, you won’t have to go to the gym as often, saving time yet again.
And, as mentioned before – you never have to look for a parking spot. Ever.
4. You’ll save our planet
Sure it’s good for you physically, but one thing that really makes a person feel good is moral superiority. This you can easily achieve by commuting with a bike. I mean, imagine the moral baggage of a person who drives a car to a gym while frantically recycling to cover up their carbon footprint? Yeeah, it feels good, doesn’t it?
Fun aside, biking might be one of the most environmentally friendly methods of transportation. It doesn’t have a lot of parts, and even they can be rebuilt or recycled – you won’t have to change your bike like you have to throw away that gas burning grill that has become un-cleanable. Once a bike has been made, you become the engine and there is no more carbon produced from its operation. With a bike you save your own body, you also save our celestial body.
Also, if you’re the kind of person who likes a tan – you won’t need a solarium anymore, just bike in less clothes and you’ll be a bronzed god(dess) in no time!
5. It’s an experience
I think this is the best part of bike commuting. Hands down. Instead of sitting in a crowded bus or a train, or nervously tapping your steering wheel stuck in traffic – you’re actually doing something. You feel the wind on your skin and you can hear the planet breathe. You see kids playing games and couples walking in the park. With a bike, you can go much deeper into the human psyche and the real places we live in compared to other modes of transportation. You’ll feel your body more, you’ll breathe fresh(er) air and you’ll learn more of yourself.
So if you have the chance to use a bike more often, give it a shot. We’ll support you on the way.