Since the forecast called for up to eight inches of snow and my cold is getting worse, I did not cycle today. The el ride was not too bad, but I missed my bike. It takes a lot to keep me off my bike, but I never force myself to ride if I feel it would be unsafe or really unpleasant. That’s one of my secrets to not burning out.
My other secret to riding my bike consistently is equally simple: cycling is almost always more desirable than the alternatives. Not only more desirable in all of the “biking will save the world” ways – no pollution, no dependence on foreign oil, no dangerous hazard to others, no isolation from my neighbors and surroundings, no obesity – but also more desirable in ways that most Americans would be interested in – Faster, Cheaper, More Comfortable.
First, let’s look at alternative one: driving a car. Driving is not a real option for me. I do have a car (because no one will buy it!) but it almost never leaves my garage. The cost of parking my car at work in downtown Chicago would be nearly $300 a month. Paying that much to park a car would be ridiculous, even if I loved driving. So driving a car is never a reasonable option. Ditto on a $25 cab ride, one-way (this is not Sex and the City, folks).
That leaves option two: public transportation. For me, this means the el (el = elevated track train, known in other cities as the subway, metro, tube, etc.). $2 a pop or $80 a month. I live a block and a half from an el stop. This was not by accident; when looking for condos, one of my requirements was that it be no more than four blocks from the el. During my commute to work, I have to transfer lines, so this adds a bit more time. Once I arrive downtown, probably after standing the entire trip and trying to balance while gripping a pole with one hand and holding an open book with the other, my office is another three-block walk. This whole episode takes about 45 minutes, depending on how long I wait for a train.
Now back to cycling. Cost after initial investment and minimal upkeep – free. In the summer on my lighter bike, the trip takes just over 30 minutes, all sunshine and fun exercise. In the winter on my Dutch bike with studded tires, the trip still only takes 45 minutes by city streets or an hour by snowy path, all invigorating air and fun exercise. Bonus – no weirdos invading my personal space.
It does not take a genius to figure out that cycling is by far the superior option. So why don’t more people do it?