For some individuals, time may be a very valid reason not to ride. There are a plethora of articles and blog posts on the web that will contradict these beliefs, but I fall victim to the thought that riding a bike takes so much longer than a car ride just like anyone else can. When I'm in this state of mind, I build up a short trip to be something that will take an eternity to complete and then end up in the car, believing that I'm saving myself a lot of time. I tell myself that I don't live in a large city like a lot of transportation bicyclists, so therefore everything is too spread out, making it impossible for me to realistically make more trips by bike. However, this is completely invalid as I live pretty much at the center of nearly everything I would need to get to - this includes grocery stores, big box retailers, farmers market, the post office, banks, restaurants, friends' homes, the gym and other workout facilities, pet supply stores, and so on. While I won't claim that I can make every destination I need to get to by bike without some sacrifice of time, many of the trips I take regularly can easily be done on a bike without the loss of any significant amount of time.
|How can I leave these faces behind, as they watch me go? Yet another excuse I can find myself using to not make a trip by bike.|
After making a few errand rides recently, I decided to actually test it out to see if my excuse of time is valid or not. With the aid of Google Maps, I plotted out a destination. I needed to pick up a few supplies so I mapped out directions on Google, simply to see what would be my estimated time of arrival. Google informed me that this trip would take 7 minutes (one direction, in current traffic) via motorized vehicle. That seemed pretty quick to me, so I was off vroom-vrooming before anyone could convince me otherwise. Of course, first I had to find my purse which seemed to have vanished, and my keys were not where they were supposed to be, so I was delayed a few minutes for an unexpected hunt. From the moment I started the car until the moment I arrived and locked the vehicle, it took 10 minutes. Google wasn't too far off. The return trip was closer to Google's estimate and took just 8 minutes, for a round trip total of 18 minutes.
The following day, I needed to return a couple of the items I had purchased, so I decided to go via bike. Once again, I mapped out on Google to know how long the ride should take. Google estimated my one-way trip via bicycle to be 12 minutes. Just five minutes longer than the estimate for the same exact route via car. A recent news article has captured the eye of many cyclists in the area, and threats of ticketing those on a bike have become more real to many riders, so I found myself stopping even at spots that are so quiet that I would normally just slow down, look, and meander through. However, from my time of departure until the moment my bike was locked took almost 12 minutes exactly. The return trip was a bit shorter at just 10 minutes, which included unlocking the bike, arranging my purse and strapping it down, and actually traveling home again. In total, that was 22 minutes for the same trip via bicycle.
|My actual travel time (round-trip) was 17 minutes, 20 seconds, which is faster than Google's estimate (based solely on travel time).|
I wasn't killing myself on the ride. I just went a comfortable pace that would allow me to arrive without being drenched in sweat (because it was already hot, even in the morning hours). The ride was only a four minute difference for a round trip errand (and when based on actual travel time as Google estimates, it's easy to see that I went faster than anticipated). When I think about it, I can easily waste four minutes doing completely pointless activities throughout almost any day. I probably lose easily 10 times that amount on some days (perhaps more, given the right circumstances). It is both liberating and crushing to realize that my own sometimes readily available-to-use excuse is pretty well busted. How can I claim to not have the time to make a short-distance trip by bike when there is scarcely a difference in travel time?
For me, sometimes I think the biggest benefit to making these kinds of trips by bicycle is that I plan my day better and instead of making multiple in and outs via car, I figure out what I need to accomplish and complete all of the errands at once while out on my bike. When I have the "benefit" of using the car, it's far too easy to get lazy with preparation and I can find myself making multiple trips throughout the day. In reality, I could do the same thing on a bike, but I think I am far less likely to forget things when I am making the trip by bicycle.
While I'm not claiming I will never travel via motorized transportation, because frankly for our family and situation it would be unrealistic (which doesn't mean I don't daydream about it at times), there are definitely many trips that could be taken by bicycle locally and I think I just needed a reminder and some actual facts to assure me of something I already knew: Riding a bicycle is nearly always more pleasant, definitely allows me to appreciate the seasons, and really doesn't provide much time loss over motorized transportation on short-distance rides. Most of all, I want to remember that this is why I wanted to ride a bicycle. While training rides and athletic feats can be a great challenge, I enjoy riding at a slower pace and appreciating what is around me - taking in the sights and sounds, while also getting the day's goals completed.
What do you think? Are there excuses you use not to ride a bike? Do you believe them to be valid, or do you think sometimes there are other alternatives that seem to outweigh the benefits of traveling via bicycle? I would be curious to hear others' thoughts.