I started doing this a few months ago, rather irregularly at first and now almost daily. Before I start talking about it, let me just make it clear that I am not preaching. I don’t think everyone should cycle to work, I don’t think that if we all cycle to work the baby seals will be finally able to rest assured of their salvation and I especially don’t think you should do anything just because *I* said it’s a good idea. That disclaimer being out there… you should at least consider it.
Main points of my argument:
– Fastest way to get in to work
Faster than walking, driving, TFL or taking the Thames Clippers. While this may or may not be necessarily true for you, even if you do live in London, it’s worth checking out this Top Gear race, just to get an idea of how much quicker this can be, even on large distances.
– Cheapest way to get in to work
TFL/Riverbus would cost you in the range of £100-120 per month. The cost of owning a car is something I have previously talked about and it’s monumentally more expensive. I believe that just the fuel for commuting (assuming you already own the car for other reasons) would be more expensive, but I don’t feel like doing the math now.
Cycling requires a minimal investment. You can get a pretty good brand new commuter bike for £100-200 and an awesome bike for double that. Maintenance is cheap and you don’t have to do it often. Also, a bike will stay with you for a good number of years if you take proper care of it so the investment will balance out over time.
Finally, in the UK, there’s the Cycle to work program which – if your employer is participating – will save you taxes on the bike cost and will allow you to pay for it over 12 months.
– Healthiest way to get in to work
It’s guaranteed exercise twice a day. Why do treadmill/rowing/stationary cardio in a crowded sweaty gym when you can cycle to work. Come Saturday, I’ve done at least 5 hrs of cardio that week. It’s the first time I’m able to say this with certainty since I was a kid.
– Works better than caffeine
I find that it actually wakes me up in the morning enough that I don’t feel the same need for an energy boost anymore. More importantly, it clears my head when I head back home, so I don’t have to drag all that baggage from work in my home with me.
Holy cycling manatees, have we uncovered the holy grail of transportation?
OKAY, there are a few downsides.
– Your commute time activity is cycling. That’s it.
It’s possible that you already had a certain something that you did to kill the commute time (reading, coding etc.). You’ll have to fit that somewhere else in your schedule now, sorry. But before you even start thinking about that, ask yourself if that something was more important than your overall health? WELL?!
– You may be late for a while.
It may take you longer than it should for the first one-two months, until you build up your cardio. To be honest though, that should really make you happy — it means your cardio sucks now and will get better.
The following three conditions have strong potential for ruining the experience:
Extreme heat, cold or rain. You can mostly work with rain and you can suit up pretty well for cold, but the summer heat in some places is quite unbearable. Can’t help with that one, but if you’re living in London, you really only need to worry about the rain.
You may be unable to cycle for whatever reason. You may live too far from your workplace for this to be a genuine opportunity. Your traffic may suck. If drivers hate you (Bucharest and Washington, I’m staring right at you), it may not be the best experience. That said, I have friends who cycle to work in both those places and are quite happy with it also.
You may have no place to put your bike (talk to your employer though! They may be happy to accommodate, everyone likes healthy energetic employees and the cost of a bike rack is well worth that).
I’m not saying everyone should cycle to work. I mean hey, if you start doing it, it will probably become unpleasantly crowded, just like car traffic. But I think it’s something well worth trying and could make a lot of people happy. Don’t believe me? Just look how happy the Mayor is:
Now sing along with me…