City & Commuting

5 reasons bike commuting is a smart choice

17 Comments 12 July 2010

You can carry your home with it | Photo by pedalturista

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

 

One dollar bills makes it look like you have more | Photo by 401k

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.

Related Posts:

- who has written 201 posts on Coming thru!.

Markus is a bike commuter gadget freak who is learning the ropes of the bike world, you can find him all around the web - but you can start with his twitter at @banton.

Contact the author

  • http://twitter.com/jlaakso Joonas Laakso

    You're starting to convert me.

  • http://www.varha.com Markus Varha

    We do our best :) If there's anything we can do to help, just holler!

  • http://www.varha.com Markus Varha

    If someone lacked more evidence, here's one from New York and 2008: http://www.streetsblog.org/2008/05/29/cycling-s… – The article says that average NYC commute is 45 min, average bicycle commute is 30 min, average distance of 5 miles. That's a lot quicker.

  • http://bikerly.wordpress.com/ Jim

    Love this post, Markus. Great writing, almost makes me want to pedal to work today (Saturday off).

    Glad we connected on Twitter. I'm just starting out on my own car free blogging adventure. Any tips or best practices you can pass along is much appreciated… following… over.

  • http://www.varha.com Markus Varha

    Much appreciated Jim! I've noticed two things that make a big difference, working equipment and finding your way. If either of them are lacking, any ride with an end point becomes a hassle and you'll start doubting yourself. I had those issues in the beginning (although I never got seriously lost), but by learning to fix my own bike and creating routes for my GPS has made it silky smooth.

    Thanks for the follow and let's keep talking in Twitter (and you're welcome to participate in the discussion here as well ;))

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  • http://twitter.com/lovingthebike Loving The Bike

    Five excellent reasons….thanks for encouraging people to try it out. I work from home, but I am moving towards a life of commuting everywhere by bike. I think it is the absolute best way to get around. Great post, and I look forward to reading more from you.

    Darryl

  • Texrgb1

    Hi Markus, good stuff and just to add. I used to own a Mercedes-Benz which had a clever little computer. This computer would tell you all sorts of facts, but one of the most interesting was your average speed over long distances. You had the option to re-set it, but I never did. Over a distance of 128,000 klm, my average speed was only 45kph. Now those klm traveled were various, from daily city commute, to 200klm hwy drives however, it’s interesting to note how low the average speed was. I comfortably ride my bike at 25kph, with no traffic hassles, so the difference covering city commuting, would really be minimal. Best of luck.

  • http://www.varha.com Markus Varha

    That is a brilliant point, I remember always looking at the average speeds in my car computer as well and they never exceeded 50 km/h, usually it was closer to 30 if you had been riding in town!

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  • http://rantwick.blogspot.com Rantwick

    I read lots of bike related stuff online, and this is the first I’ve seen your site. I like it very much and your writing style is easy and direct and sensible. I also like that your last and best reason for riding is the same as my own… well done!

  • http://www.varha.com Markus Varha

    Thanks dude! Have a great New Year and we’ll check out your blog as well :)

  • http://twitter.com/Bruno_Lorentin Bruno Lorentin

    Hi just discovered your blog, I really like what you’re doing !

    I think you should also empathize how nice it is to bike on the snow. So peaceful and relaxing. I moved to Finland (from France) 3 years ago now but this is the first year I have the guts to go to work by bike even during Winter. I am so glad I did!

    Keep up the good work!

  • Anonymous

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/HFBEPAY26LQILIWVB6NGYUH43Q Keep America Beautiful

    The reason I can’t bike to work is that there is no safe place to lock my bike properly with a U-lock. Despite my complaints over the years they refuse to upgrade from ancient front wheel racks due I suspect to both lack of interest and lack of money.

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About Comingthru

Coming Thru (or Coming Through - as that URL was taken) is a daily updated bike magazine - a collection of writings and links that relate to biking in its every form. The idea started from when Maarten met Markus decided to finally start collecting the things we like about bikes and talk about our everyday adventures in dodging moving objects at high speeds.The site is run by a collage of cyclists, most notably by Canadian Johanna MacDonald, Belgian Maarten Patteeuw and Finnish Markus Sandelin.

It all started in the spring of 2010, after a record breaking snowy winter when Markus bought a house 25 kilometers from the office and decided to handle the commuting with a bicycle. It turned out the bike wasn’t up to standards for that kind of stress and the first weeks were more tragicomic than glorious. Thus the idea began to brew to actually document this journey.

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