Commuting is Awesome

April 27, 2011

While cycling past a rage soaked traffic jam the other day, I wondered why more people don’t ride a bike to work. I’m not talking every single day, that’s just silly, but maybe once or two a week, when the weather’s nice. I really enjoy the days I commute, and make an effort to do the 25 km ride in to work twice a week. I see a good list of benefits:

  • Cycling is cheap
  • Consistent commute time
  • Fitness
  • Happiness
  • Green-ness


With gas prices increasing steadily, currently hovering around $1.35 in Vancouver, driving is more expensive than ever. It costs me about $7 to drive to work and back each day, and that’s not including insurance and maintenance. My wife and I are already a one car family, and the savings of not having a second vehicle are huge. Sure it takes some compromise, but it’s well worth it. When the weather is gross, and the wife needs the car, I’ll tolerate public transit, but really I hate the bus. Having to actually pay $5.50 a day to have to sit in a small uncomfortable box with a bunch of degenerates is just insult to injury. I’d like to find the man who designed the seats on the bus and Skytrain … does he have unusually short femurs or something? Mine certainly don’t fit. And those bus drivers that for some reason can only operate the damn thing in binary. I’m pretty certain the gas and brakes work somewhere betwen fully on and full off. I digress, a fellow at work looked at how quickly he could pay off the purchase of a bicycle if he uninsured his car and cycled in to work every day. For him it worked out that he could purchase a $1000 bike in less than 3 months … $1000!!! There are lots of fantastic commuter bike options, such as the Norco XFR, for as little as $675. Wanna go even cheaper, there are endless options for used bikes on places such as Craigslist. Heck use what you have in garage for the first time and see if you enjoy it. I challenge you to figure out how much money you’d save by riding a bike, I bet you’re surprised. With all that saved money you can go and buy yourself something nice … like beer … or maybe some new jeans.  

Getting to work is usually fairly pain free, by car it takes me from 25 – 35 minutes. However when driving home if anyone in the lower mainland sneezes, which happens quite often, traffic becomes a giant mess. Add a Canuck game, Friday, construction, police car on the shoulder for no reason with lights flashing, or a long week-end and things get a lot worse. As a result my commute home by car takes an unpredictable 35 – 90 minutes. This means I’m always an hour early or an hour late for any appointment after work, which greatly annoys me. In contrast my bike ride takes an hour each and every day. I could catch the bus, but it takes the same amount of time, and I usually spend the majority of the time trying to find a way to hang myself. Again the bicycle wins.

The fitness aspect is obvious, riding a bike is low impact and healthy. What isn’t obvious is that riding a bike to work is really killing two birds with one stone. I’m getting an awesome work out WHILE moving my sorry ass to work. Genius. Instead of enjoying some gents musky aroma on the bus, or stewing in my car while dreaming up colourful ways of harming another motorist, I’m getting in a work out with the breeze in my hair.  

Cycling makes me happy, especially when I’m cycling past a giant traffic jam, all those cages of bottled anger sliding on by. Why do us humans take so much joy in observing, preferably closely, others pain and suffering? Even when there isn’t a traffic jam to enjoy I quite like cycling to and from work. There is a sense of accomplishment, that feeling of win that you traveled all that way self sufficiently, powered by a perfect blend of Nutella, toast and coffee. Concerned about traffic and route finding. No problems, the internet is your friend. Google maps (is it just me or has Google taken over the entire world?) has a directions cycling option that is very handy for figuring out good routes. There are loads of other resources with cycling maps published by each city. You can plan a route that is long or short, hilly or flat, busy or quiet. Splendid.

I’m not a hippy by any means, in fact I rather dislike hippies. I also don’t particularly like the Global Warming activists, Al Gore, David Suzuki, tofu, or Green Peace. Commuting to work has become synonymous with saving the planet. Being green isn’t my primary motivation, but I am mildly happy at the thought that I’m doing some small part to reduce my consumerism. Burning less decomposed dinosaurs can only be a good thing. Reducing traffic jams can only be a good thing. I can’t see a downside to cycling, everybody wins … except maybe those motorists on Dunsmuir.

If you already ride a bike to work occasionally, good on ya. If you don’t, give it a thought. It doesn’t work for everyone. Some folks need a vehicle for work, need to carry heavy things etc. However I bet those are the minority. Give it a thought, drop by your local bike store like John Henry Bikes and check out what a commuter bike will cost you. I bet after a couple rides to work you’ll be a convert.

Some handy links:

One Response to “Commuting is Awesome”

  1. Agree 100% Tim. Great Blog. Looking forward to racing with you next weekend.

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