Archive for September, 2007

Bicycle Commuting

I have been commuting to work by bike for the last couple of years. It’s something I really enjoy. I have about an eight mile trip that typically takes me 35 minutes in traffic. There is a gym with shower facilities at work, and that helps. During the summer here in Tempe when it is in the 90’s and climbing higher at 8:00 am, it helps to be able to shower after riding.

Riding a bike is one of those acts that integrates several problems into an elegant solution. Wen-Ling and I have been pretty enthusiastic about trying to save money whenever the opportunity exists. Owning one car instead of two is a big way to make that happen. In addition to the cost of a second car there is the cost of fuel for a second vehicle, extra insurance, double the maintainance costs, etc. By biking to work, one car becomes more than adequate for the two of us.

Biking is also a solution to the problem of how do I get enough exercise. As a software engineer, I spend my day working at a desk. The biggest physical exertion of the work day when driving a car is climbing to the third floor by stairs. When I commute by bike I manage to work in an hour a day of aerobic exercise in a couple of half-hour chunks separated by an eight hour rest at my desk. Biking allows me to keep the weight off, my blood pressure at an ideal level, and gives my legs extra strength and tone.

Riding a bicycle to work also substitutes what is typically an aggravation — driving through rush-hour traffic on clogged main arteries, with the pleasure of riding through neighborhood streets on a human powered vehicle. I typically get to work a little agitated when I have to drive. I am almost always relaxed and invigorated when I ride a bike. Biking is also the perfect way to “decompress” on the way home. Returning home in a car is reason enough to need to decompress.

I am fortunate in that my employer also provides bus passes to any employee who requests one. The problem with the bus system in metro Phoenix is that the buses run too infrequently to be a real alternative to driving for most people. I am willing to wait to catch a bus, but only to a point. Commuting to work by bus for me typically involves two separate buses. However, I can often leave my house by bike and catch a bus along the way (the buses have bike racks). If I don’t catch a bus, no big deal. But if I do, it is a bonus that can cut down on my commute time. When biking, I generally take advantage of one bus. I can forgo the second bus because the time spent waiting for it is more productively used to just get on the pedals.

I know of a few other people at work who also commute by bike. They also tend to be slim and happy. I wish more people would consider biking as an option.


September 10, 2007 at 8:46 am Leave a comment


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