I've heard lots of times, from friends and family: "You bike to work? You're crazy." Whether or not I am crazy is up to debate, but not because I ride to work. I often hear myths regarding why you shouldn't ride to work or anywhere else. I am here to dispel some of those myths and get you on your bike this Friday for National Bike-to-Work Day.
Myth #1 — It's too expensive to buy a bike.
Well, chances are most folks have a bike in their garage or can get one cheaply. Garage sales have them cheap and you could always join The Bike Project to get one cheaply, as well as learn to maintain it. Please oil the chain and make sure the bike is in good repair before attempting to ride to work.
Myth #2 — There's too much traffic.
Thousands of folks ride to work in New York City. If there is not too much traffic there, then Champaign-Urbana is going to be a breeze. Check out CCB's bike maps for finding a low traffic route.
Myth #3 — I'm not in good enough shape to ride.
That is one of the main reasons you ride to work. The first day might be tough but you have to stick with it. You will find that it will get easier and easier the more you do it. The benefit is improved health. Research shows that you can cut the chances of heart disease in half by cycling regularly.
Myth #4 — It will take too long.
Well, in Champaign-Urbana, depending on how far your commute is, where you park, etc., it can actually be quicker to bike. I can usually outrun the MTD busses on my 2.75-mile commute from my work to home. (Dear Brown route drivers: please don't use this as incentive to drive faster to beat me.)
Myth #5 — It won't matter to the earth; besides, only hippies ride to work.
Actually, it can make a difference, and people of every walk of life are doing it for various reasons. For the environment, every four miles a commuter bikes instead of drives, you are keeping approximately 15 pounds of pollutants out of the atmosphere. If you ride six miles a day, you could keep 22.5 pounds per day out of the atmosphere and over a year, it will add up.
Myth #6 — I will inhale more pollutants from cars riding my bike to work.
Actually, according to studies in Europe, drivers in cars were exposed to two to four times greater pollution than cyclists. Taking side streets, when possible, helps this ratio even more.
Myth #7 — I won't save much money.
Take gas, wear and tear on your car and parking, which if you have to pay for it, can be significant. If you go cheap and only get what you need as far as the bike goes, you can save quite a bit of money each year.
Myth #8 — I'll be all sweaty when I get to work.
Try riding at a more leisurely pace. It tends to be cooler in the morning so I don't sweat hardly at all in the morning commute ... unless I decide to try to "break" the speed limit on the speed check next to the stadium on Fourth Street. If you do get a little perspiration, baby wipes can work wonders for a quick cleanup.
Myth #9 — I have to run errands so I can't take my bike.
You can add a rack to your bike or use a trailer. It is amazing what you can take on a bike with little effort.
Myth #10 — It's raining, I can't ride today.
Use fenders for your bike and rain gear for you. If you get to work and it is raining, take the bus home — MTD even has racks for your bike. You could always skip the days that the weather is poor and still ride the good days.
So there you have it, most of the excuses eliminated. Get out and start riding your bike to work and enjoy the benefits of improved health, less stress, saving money and the earth in one easy step. However, riding to work one day is not going to accomplish much. It needs to be a sustained effort over time to achieve these benefits.