About six months ago I started bike commuting to work. My decision to bike to work was driven by wanting a exercise routine that better fit my schedule, and to take Metro less (Metro being Washington DC’s notoriously incompetent transit service). Now that I’m six months in I thought I’d share some of my thoughts and reactions.
Bike Commuting is Great Exercise
People often talk about the fitness benefits of bike commuting, but they should. In the past six months I went from a kind of sloppy thin guy to the best shape of my life. I’ve lost 15 pounds and my legs have become hairy, sculpted transportation tools. I don’t know what I’d do without this regular exercise.
One thing that seems harder to measure is that I generally feel less tired. Over the past three months I’ve not felt very tired at all, even when sleeping less. It’s not that I haven’t tried to sleep, but I regularly find myself feeling great even after only averaging seven hours of sleep.
I love the Autonomy of Bike Commuting
I am mostly an independent person, so being dependent on a public transportation system (that barely works) never felt right to me. With biking to work, I really feel control of my own schedule. I arrive at work or home only when I decide I will. I feel at ease with my schedule now, which I never saw coming.
Non-Bicyclists Don’t Understand
Bikers have adopted a ton of strange tips and tricks to navigate the world that most people do not understand. Almost all streets today were made for cars, not bikers. Sure major cities have been introducing bike lanes over that past decade but 99.9999% of roads don’t have them (that’s a guess but I think it’s pretty reasonable). There are also not a lot of people who bike to work, so average person doesn’t understand why bikers do the things that they do. The “strange” behavior of bikers confuses and upsets people.
I’ve had pedestrians in marked bike trails yell at me to drive in the road. And I have had drivers in cars honk at me to get out of the way. This lack of understanding will be very hard to fix. Yet, as more people move into cities, and some decide bike commuting is a good idea for them, I think things will improve. Sadly I can also think of many moments where bikers have done no favors with getting other people to understand them.
I’m going to keep biking through fall and as long as the weather holds up into winter. My girlfriend joked the other day that I keep lowering the temperature for when it’s too cold to bike in. Right now my plan is to keep biking to work as long as it’s above 35 degrees (fahrenheit). Through the purchase of some choice winter cloths and biking keeping the body warm I think I’m going to have no problem biking all the way into December (so long as it’s not icy out).