By Joe Kurmaskie — Let’s face it, no matter how much you love your commute by bike, there’s always that morning, the one that comes to early, too wet, too hot or just too something to get you to carry the bike off the porch and into the bike lane. When you feel uninspired, take heart, take inspiration or take a moment to feel ashamed by your inertia that you suck it up and get in the saddle. The hardest part of any ride is starting…
[Editor’s note: this article first appeared in the July 2013 edition of Cycling Utah. Anecdotes and statistics may be out-of-date.]
(Of course, the greatest motivation for making the trek everyday is freeing yourself of car ownership, but even then, there are ways of passing on the commute by bike – carpool anyone? So for when you just aren’t feeling it, remember these road warriors.)
1. From The Never Too Young To Get Into The Groove File:
During the 2012-2013 school year, one Portland, Maine student marked the end of the school year as he started it, on a bicycle.
Kindergartener Alex Kimble told his father he enjoyed riding his bicycle so much that he wanted to ride it to school every day. Father and son made the several-block trip daily despite the weather.
On Thursday morning, Alex’s classmates gathered outside of school to cheer him on as he finished his goal. The 6-year-old’s effort made his father Nate proud.
“It was a real treat to see him have a goal and really want to stick to that. I think it was a good, sort of, life lesson for him and I’m proud of him,” Nate Kimble said.
Alex rode about 170 miles by the end of the school year, and he is thinking about bicycling to school next year too.
Let’s take a moment to internalize this information. Little Alex doesn’t live in Portland, Oregon where every third parent is cargo biking their kids and bike training along to the school yard. And Alex faced some mad weather conditions bicycling every day in MAINE! Alex, I’m not worthy, my friend. Way to go!
2. Ride Morning, Noon and Night:
When an office puts together a Lunchtime bike ride, commuter employee buy in grows by an average of 40 percent. don’t believe me, check out this tidbit about the National Geographic Headquarters, where it comes from the top down.
One way National Geographic staffers in Washington, D.C., can get to know their company’s CEO is to take him up on his long-standing offer: to go for a lunchtime bike ride.
“Anyone still downstairs? OK, so we ready to go, guys?” National Geographic Society CEO John Fahey asks a group of about 20 employees
Fahey, an avid biker, says he’s just trying to encourage a little exercise — and he wants the opportunity to get to know folks informally. As the group makes the 15-mile trek to Hains Point along the Potomac River and back, Fahey makes a point of chatting with everyone, staffers say.
At National Geographic — which is a hub of outdoorsy, adventure-seeking types who think nothing of biking busy city streets — lots of the staffers who join Fahey for the lunchtime rides also use their bikes to get to and from work every day.
“I’ve been riding in for 19 years,” says senior photo editor Dan Westergren, adding that he has definitely noticed the boom — especially as bike paths and bike lanes along city streets have improved.
Westergren’s commute is a combined 12 miles to and from home. And he says, given all the biking he does, he doesn’t need a gym membership to stay fit.
“Really, to build it into your daily routine by commuting for me has just been the best thing,” he says.
3. A Few Commuter Statistics:
- And if you needed any more motivation there’s this from the American Journal of Public Health: the U.S. cities with the highest rates of walking and cycling to work have obesity rates that are 20 percent lower and diabetes rates that are 23 percent lower — compared with U.S. cities with the lowest rates of walking and cycling.
- Adults who bike to work have better weight, blood pressure, and insulin levels. (Gordon-Larsen, P., et al., 2009)
- Women who bike 30 minutes a day have a lower risk of breast cancer. (Luoto, R., et al., 2000)
- Adolescents who bicycle are 48% less likely to be overweight as adults. (Menschik, D, et al., 2008)
- The average American household spends $7,179 per year on owning and driving their cars. (Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 2010)
- On a round-trip commute of 10 miles, bicyclists save around $10 daily. (Commute Solutions, 2011)
And if all that doesn’t get you pumped for your morning ride, just remember this riding a bike to work or school or to the store is like getting to play at something you love while moving yourself through space, instead of sitting in place as something moves you along.
The bike not only gets you somewhere, it lets you flee sadness in the process.