"Green, lean and cost-effective - and he'll need a shower as soon as he arrives"
There are so many rational benefits to commuting by bicycle; its greener, its cheaper and it helps keep you healthy – but it still doesn’t solve many of the irrational fears of cycling… the reasons why it isn’t a principle adopted worldwide, and why cyclists get such a hard time.
First off, cycling can be slooooooow. Except perhaps when there’s heavy traffic, or if you’re stopping and starting between the lights often – or (sin of all sins!) there are roadwork’s and you have to divert, a car is surely the faster form of transport; and since the acceleration is superior anyway, so you feel like you’re going faster.
Second, cycling can appear to be dangerous. You’ve heard the horror stories of some poor cyclist desperately trying to pull away from the traffic lights as a double decker bus ploughs over them?
Finally, cyclists sweat. No one wants to arrive at work, their suit dripping in sweat and just waiting to sit down to a whole days work in damp, smelly and nauseating shirts. Worse, no one wants to be the person sitting next to the guy who’s just cycled in. It’s not just uncomfortable – it’s putrid.
The simple answer to this is providing shower facilities, but no company boss will resent paying for staff to wash in steamy hot water each and every morning when everyone else is happily (and productively) stepping out of a car.
Is there a way to make commuting by bicycle attractive...?
Or better – make commuting by bicycle compelling
There are of course elements of truth to these commonly assumed “facts” about commuting by bicycle, based upon what we see everyday and hear in the news – however, there is one type of bike which can actually overcome all these problems with ease. It’s electric.
Electric bikes promise many things– principally, they’re quick. By featuring a powerful motor which works with your pedaling, you can travel at much higher speeds for longer.
Although they’relimited to 15mphto avoid road tax and expensive licensing problems, 15mph is equivalent to a fast cycle for a healthy person, and also much higher than the average speed of a vehicle within a city. What’s more, bicycles can happily chop and change between the main roads,cycle pathsand any shortcuts you know of. You can take your faster bike over shorter more direct routes.
The electric power has another major safety benefit. Accelerating away from traffic lights is no longer an issue, since at the touch of a button or twist of the throttle you’re matching (or exceeding) the speed of the traffic around you. One of the main reasons cyclists get into trouble is because they’re slower than the traffic around them – hard to blame since they have to pedal so hard after each and every junction!
The sweat issue is overcome two-fold; not only do you actually put in less effort and so you don’t have to sweat so much, but your higher speed increases the ‘wind chill effect’, cooling you down so your body doesn’t need to sweat if at all. But thebenefit of cycling for exerciseremains since the action ofbeing on a bicycle forces you to pedal.
Thebest commuter bikes are folding electric bicycleswhich can collapse into a small bag or a rucksack. Not only does this mean they can be carried on trains or the underground with ease, but they can also be discretely carried into an office – leaving a bike outside increases the likelihood of it getting nicked!
There is one other “secret” benefit to commuting by bicycle. A little gentle exercise never hurt anyone, and we’re all supposed to do it. This isn’t a rant on thebenefits of daily exercisebut instead the divulging of something else…
...two stressful activities surround your commute. Work, and organizing your evening. That peaceful haven in between should be your quiet time, your own sanctuary where you can reflect on the days happenings and prepare for your relaxed night ahead. Instead you sit in traffic, or boxed up on a bus for an hour or so – hemmed in.
Cycling not only gives you a great feeling of freedom (you’re outside!) and thrill of speed (you really feel it with the wind rushing past your cheeks) but it also encourages the release of ’endorphins’. Endorphins are your bodies “feel good” drug, and their release is triggered by exercise – even the gentle exercise you get on an electric bike.
The effect is greatest when moderate exercise is sustained over a long period of time – an effect nicknamed"runners high"where people experience a feeling of euphoria. Whether or not you’ll experience a hormonal high each and every working day depends on you – try it.
What you can be certain of is that commuting by bicycle – particularly an electric bicycle – can lift your entire day. You’ll arrive at work elated (!) and return home fresh and eager to enjoy the evening. If you want to learn more about how electric bikes can change your commute, and your life, click to return from Commuting by Bicycle to Electric Bikes Experts and read the full story.
There's also this very gooddirectory of bicycle commuting linkswith lots of practical day-to-day advice on commuting by bike.