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tl-w.gif (842 bytes)tr-w.gif (841 bytes)Lame Excuses


I'm a busy person.  I don't have time to go by Bike.

Let me tell you about all the time I have saved bicycling to work.

Bikes are slower than cars right? So how could I SAVE time cycling to work?

Well, first, let me challenge your assumptions.

Bikes are not always slower than cars. If you live in a large urban area you probably know how traffic can slow to a crawl during the morning and evening commute. If you've been driving for years you probably have a list of "secret" routes that get you around the bottlenecks. I had one friend report that they would roar through trailer parks at 45 mph, just to save a few seconds or to bypass a light.

One correspondent stated that he had installed a Hobbs meter under the dash of a newly purchased car.  Hobbs meters record "powered on time" in hours, and are usually used in aircraft to know how long the plane has flown between service periods. When he sold the car, he divided the total mileage by the hours and found the average speed of the vehicle of the several years he owned it was 17 miles per hour.  Cars are not necessarily faster.

Drive time is only part of the commute.  Then there is the parking.  Even if free, it's not always close. Even if close it's not always vacant. How long do you have to spend driving around looking for a parking spot. Are you afraid to leave your parking spot at lunch for fear of not finding another upon your return?

However, parking and slow traffic really weren't problems for me.  My problem was simply time.

With a desk job, driving to work meant I needed to get some exercise in my free time. Oh sure, I could just sit around and listen to my arteries harden, but life is too short.

I looked into a health club. Not being located where I live, it would require yet another trip on club days. An hours workout, three days a week would cost another $60 a month minimum.

For me, driving to work takes 10 minutes. That's 20 minutes a day 5 days a week or 100 minutes in commute time.

Driving to the club three days a week would have taken another 10 minutes each way, for another 60 minutes a week.

Added together, my weekly driving time would have been two hours and forty minutes per week. (And this is in a small town where things are close).

Add to that the 3 hours working out in the club to compensate for a "drivers" life style, and I have at least 5 and a half hours a week sunk into driving and staying in shape.

I discovered that It took 20 minutes riding at a good clip to bike to work. Forty minutes each day of bike commuting amounts to 200 minutes (three hours and twenty minutes) per week. That's a hundred minutes (one hour and 40 minutes) more than driving to work.

But I got all the exercise I needed just getting to work and back (plus the occasional joy ride). Therefore I didn't need to enroll at the gym, which saves me lots of money, and about four hours per week. Plus, I didn't have to spend three hours working out to the odor of other people sweat. Four hours saved per week (not to mention gym fees etc). All I had to do was invest twice as much time on the bike as I would spend driving.

Three and a half hours on the bike or three hours in a sweaty gym. No Brainer!!!

By investing more time on the bike, I can accomplish my commuting and my exercise program. In less overall time!

Let me recap that for you, Weekly totals:

Drive time to work: 1:00
Drive time to Club: 1:00
Club Workout Time: 3:00
Total: 5:40
Bike time to work: 3:20
Club Workout time: 0:00
Total: 3:20
Time Saved Per Week 2:20

Now this won't work out for everyone this way. You have to tally up your drive time and then add in any time spent on boring exercise programs to compensate for a lethargic life style. Don't forget to add the time spend looking for parking, and the scheduling problems you have to deal with when the car has to go into the shop.

Further some folks really like the gym. They would still go for a fast game of squash even if they didn't need the exercise.

But I really like to bike. Year round, rain or shine, winter or summer. I've found a way to accomplish both in less time that I would be spending if I didn't ride. Plus, by riding every day, my speed and endurance increases, which means weekend and evening rides are routine, and never leave me sore like the weekend biker.

I barely mentioned any saving in money here. There are other articles for that. This is just about the savings in time.

Note, it takes me twice as long to bike to work as to drive.  This is often the case where traffic is lite, and driving is fairly fast.  If you live in a more congested place you may find that bicycling is almost as fast as driving. One study indicates that on average, bicycle commute time is about one third longer than driving time.   In that case, the time savings explained above become even more pronounced.

But there are other time savers in bicycling. When parking is tight, or traffic heavy, you will often decide not to stop for that errand on the way home, especially if you have to drive around the block 3 times just to find a parking spot within walking distance.

On a bike this is no problem. Just lock it to the nearest stationary object and dash into the store.

Secondly, you are not tempted to make those runs all the way across town to save 12 cents on a bottle of milk like you might if you were driving. (It's amazing how much gas some shoppers will waste trying to save a few pennies in groceries.)

Some may view this as an inconvenience. Perhaps so, but those extra hours you save each week will allow plenty of time to make a special trip for those cross town errands.

You will also find, that as you get more in shape, that setting out across town in your free time to pick up an item can be enjoyable, provides additional exercise, and just another excuse to get out on the bike.

The bottom line is, bicycling is enjoyable, where sitting in traffic is boring, and even when traffic is not backed up, driving is often a waste of time and money.

Save the driving hours for something you really want, such as the visit to distant friends or carrying large loads.

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By John Andersen

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