Choices: Drive? or Bike?

This is the first post of an ongoing feature here at 21st Century Citizen. It’s called ‘Choices’ and it’s purpose is to present a simple, values-based choice and generate discussion.

It’s also intended to make you think a bit and examine the reasons why you make the choices you make. Here we go with our first installment.

[Note: I'm using pictures from flickr below -- clicking on them will take you to the image's page in Flickr.]

Choice: Drive? Or Bike?



Drive?



Or Bike?

This question may not be as simple as it seems.For example, if you have a long commute from your home and need to drive, well — you could use a bike if you changed jobs and worked closer to home.

So, then what if you could find a job close enough to home? Then would you use a bike?

If it seems impossible to get a job close to home, then how about a job where you work from home?

If you got a job where you worked from home, then you wouldn’t need to drive to commute. Then would you switch to using a bike?

I know it’s impossible for a lot of people to work from home — if you’re a Fireman or a Nurse, fires and sick people don’t usually come to you, so it’s impractical. But for many jobs, it would be possible. In fact, if gas were $10 a gallon, it might turn into a necessity — many people just wouldn’t be able to afford to drive to work and back.

Now what about buying groceries? Would you be willing to ride the bike to get food? Why not?

Again, for some it’s impractical — but maybe not as impractical as you’d think. For example, many people in large cities — like New York City — don’t own cars. They shop a little bit at a time or take a cab. You could do that on a bike in many towns.

In some cases, the roads may not be safe for bikes — for example, here in New Hampshire there aren’t bike lanes everywhere.

Also, for many of us the large grocery stores we shop at are too far to ride a bike.

But what if bike lanes were required by law on all busy roads? Would that make a difference? If so — then shouldn’t we be asking our local governments to adopt rules that require bike lanes? We don’t do this now because we’re used to driving cars.

And if more people road bikes, I’ll bet that local people would open stores up to serve them. Local stores used to be everywhere, in fact, until the big chains put them out of business. If there were local shoppers for them, they’d open back up. Probably pretty quickly too.

So — what do you choose here? Don’t mke the choice you think is ‘appropriate’, tell the truth. And tell us what would have to change to make you use a bike — maybe if we talk about the reasons why we don’t use bikes, it will give us ideas as to what we need to change so more people do.

And if you use a bike now, then tell us how you do it and how practical it is. What problems do you run into? What works well?

Feel free to comment. And thanks for reading!

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75 thoughts on “Choices: Drive? or Bike?

  1. I don’t know. This is really just the stupidist idea ever. Global warming is a hoax anyway and now you liberal freaks want us to ride bikes instead of cars?

    Maybe Al Gore will give you a ride in his Hummer.

  2. If it’s not raining when I go to work today, I’ll ride my bike! I just when to googlemaps, and it’s only 2 miles.
    As I write this, I think of the midnight bike ride home… I supposed it’d be OK, but I could always ride home for lunch, and drive back to work…
    I’ve thought that it is extremely inefficient to use thousands of pounds of steel, glass, and rubber to move (usually) one person about less than 10 miles. I agree that it’s a bit different if you’ve a car full of people, or you’re taking material somewhere… but for one person (saaay 175 pounds) to use a machine that’s 2000% their weight just to go down the street? sounds ridiculous to me, regardless of the presence or absence of global warming.

  3. I have been riding since 1995.I am 44 now and in excellent shape.I can’t even count how much money I have saved over the years.Sure, sometimes it may inconvenient.When I go on trips longer than 50 miles,I either have to rely on public transportation or talk someone into wanting to drive.Bottom line.I travel by energy I create.I don’t leave any lethal emissions and I can spend my money on important items.

  4. I grew up in a suburb of a major city where a car was necessary; you could do anything without one. I then spent a lot of time in very walkable cities in Europe that had affordable public transportation, which was great. Upon my return I didn’t even want to drive as it seemed so inconvenient what with paying for gas and insurance, looking for places to park when going out. Not just that, there’s nothing quite like pulling up to a nightclub on bicycle, especially after a few drinks.

  5. Living in a small town meant that biking anywhere relevant when you’re really young was a very normal thing; in fact, most things are walkable. Going to high school, I had to bike almost 10 miles, but vastly preferred that to the dirty, busy buses that didn’t even service our area that often. Now I’m going to a big city, The Hague, and while many people there do have a car, the tram system is a very busy one, and the amount of bikes and bikers is a relief. The city I went to school for the past years was also big on bikes, so it never was a real option to me to get anywhere differently. Now I live about a hundred feet from the art academy (no really) and everything is walkable again.

    Moving to a big city didn’t make a difference for me. Then again, I realise that living in Europe has ingrained public transportation and rights for bikers into me a great deal.

    Oh, and commenter #2, get a grip. This isn’t necessarily about the environment for most of us. It’s a matter of being healthy, practical and low on cost. Al Gore didn’t tell me to ride a bike. Al Gore should’ve made clear to you to open up and think more about the things you do.

  6. Bike! I’m all about cycling. When I was living in Europe that was my only means of transportation and I got quite accustomed to it. Now that I’m back in the states we have a car but I hardly ever use it. I walk to nearly everywhere I need to go. I have a mini shopping cart I take with me to buy groceries eliminating the need for a car.

    Unfortunately, the city in which I currently live has a pretty lame public transit system and is VERY pedestrian/cyclist unfriendly, so sometimes a car is a necessity. My husband and I are trying to figure out how to fit the cost of purchasing a hybrid car into our budget.

  7. oh yes, and I have to agree with Rob about the anonymous commenter #2. Get a grip. And while you’re at it, grow a backbone and stop trying to stir up trouble through an anonymous post. At least have the stones to voice your opinion openly.

  8. Nothing against the bike, but when I’m commuting I want the comfort of a car.

    If given the choice to buy a more fuel-efficient hybrid or electric car (if the infrastructure existed) for equal money I’d do that.

    I have to admit it’s kind of funny reading all these responses, aside from the one crazy guy everyone is so pro-bike.

    I love all the thoughtful responses, but it seems to me most Americans don’t think like most of the readers of this blog.

    Or at all about the resources they put out. What we need is corporate leadership taking a stand. What are the thoughtful people above actually doing to affect change beyond their household? That is a better question to be asking, but that’s just me.

  9. When I was a school girl in Christchurch New Zealand everyone biked everywhere and cars looked out for cyclists.

    On Australia’s Gold Coast where I now live many of the main roads have bike lanes and there are separate bike paths, but the cyclists always seem vulnerable in their narrow lane beside the speeding cars.

    I would like to see major roads made safer for cyclists if the bike is to be used more often.

  10. BIKE! And who needs gears…one gear, fixed! Riding is not just something I do, its a way of life, and I will never look back. Im moving to NYC in a couple of months from the midwest and I can’t wait to ride in Brooklyn.

  11. basically, you offer a lot of hyperbolic theoretical scenarios and then ask what amounts to a rhetorical question over and over. “if life were completely different, would you ride a bike?”
    i don’t know too many people who would own, maintain, fuel and store a car if they had -no need- for a car.

    but gas isn’t $10/gallon, most residential neighborhoods don’t permit commercial zoning so most people can’t work close to home, most people with the exception of tech people can’t work -from- home, there aren’t bike lanes required everywhere by law, and let’s face it, in most of the country it is -far- too cold most of the year to be on a bicycle, and during the warm months biking to work means showing up all sweaty and disgusting which doesn’t fly in most office settings if they have a dress code anything above “completely casual”.

    why not focus our energy on improving public transportation instead? i currently have a 30 mile commute from Chicago’s south side to the Northwestern suburbs. i just moved here and had trouble finding a job from halfway across the country. until i can find something cloesr to home, i’m stuck with this one. the commute takes an hour or more, because traffic is such a disaster here. i’d -love- to take public transportation to work instead of sitting in traffic twice a day. but instead of it taking an hour, on public transit, this commute would take nearly three hours!

    fix that, and i won’t need a car -or- a bike.

  12. Jhimm -

    Thanks for the comment — and I agree with all your criticisms.

    The point of this post isn’t to present solutions — it’s to ask a question and then challenge the underlying assumptions that make people think they already know the answer.

    Once the underlying assumptions come under discussion, hopefully people will rethink their own beliefs and maybe look at the debate a bit differently.

    And hopefully in attacking the underlying assumptions we can generate *real* ideas for how to improve things — like your excellent comment did.

    Thanks -
    Kevin

  13. This is awesome. I’m a transportation geographer, and the genre has learned many, many things. Basically it boils down to, there is never ONE perfect solution. All of the points are valid.

    City zoning must change to allow multiple things to be built/operate on a single site.

    Bike lanes should NEVER be on roadways, especially in North America where bikes are the minority — they should be required, and built, off the road and off the sidewalks.

    Public transit should not only be improved, it should be given priority lanes, and should be cheaper than driving. City officials need to start using it!! You can’t just have people making rules/saying “do as I say not as I do” and expect a change.

    Ahhhh I could go on and on.

    Also, it’s funny how talking about SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT turns into “GLOBAL WARMING IS A HOAX.” This may or may not have anything to do with global warming — guess what! The oil’s running out! The air and water are polluted! Driving less makes a better world for us ALL.

  14. Ben Homer –

    The electric car DID exist, briefly, until GM of course vanquished it. “Who Killed the Electric Car?” is a great documentary. Sad, too :(

  15. Jessica – where in the world are you going to fit all these new, extra lanes? look at Manhattan. how could you possibly fit dedicated public transit lanes and mandatory bike lanes into a system already that squeezed? having everything isolated and separate would be ideal, for sure, especially for safety concerns, but where do we find the space?

    Kevin – thanks for the clarification of intent. rhetorical questions are tricky online because there’s no tone. it can be tough to tell if someone is using them in a confrontational way, or a socratic way. thanks also for the RSS debriefing post! very helpful.

  16. jhimm –

    Places that CAN fit them. Suburbs, to begin. I’d say Manhattan doesn’t have a public transit problem, or for example, Toronto, where a majority of the people who live and work there will use transit within the city. Also, it’s an idea. Extreme, perhaps, but sometimes if not for the extreme ideas we never come to the feasible middle.

  17. I live in london, which in general has very narrow streets compared with North American cities. Loads of central streets in London now have bike lanes and many more have bus lanes. This has restricted the cars to either a slightly thinner lane, or one lane for the car and one for the bus. Its made it harder for cars, but quicker for the buses and safer for the cyclists. The big advantage of the situation is that it makes you think twice about taking your car into the city (the Congestion Charge helps too £8 to get into the city centre for any car other than electric/LPG/hybrid/motorbike).
    There does need to be a fundamental change in the way cities work – London is attempting something that might help change attitudes. I ride a bike to work now, my train then tube journey used to be about 45 minutes long, my cycle takes about 35 minutes. I feel super fit now and save the £1096 annual ticket

  18. I live in Penticton BC Canada We have wide roads and a few bike lanes also a lot of busy business types flying around young stoners and a large geriatric population that cant turn thier heads to back up or change lanes I still ride as much as I can but to heck with the bike lanes I go out of my way to ride on side streets or break the law by riding on the sidewalk a lot I love my bike would love to ban cars in town or have them restricted to a few car lanes For a lot of people safety is a big issue when deciding how to commute

  19. Are we forgetting about carpooling? Gas is getting expensive, I pick up 2-3 people on my way to work (30 miles out) and we rotate…wow…a great concept to get to work, save gas by alternating weekly, and it makes for great conversation before you get to work so the part of your day normally spent bitching is spent working! A novel concept, give it a try.

  20. Hi 21cC,

    I am a “not-so-proud-anymore” owner of a 2005 Porsche Cayenne, which I bought new, exactly 2 years ago. I’ve been an avid mountainbiker for the last 4 years and decided to leave the car aside and commute to work by bike at least 2-3 times a week. Being the owner and the general manager of the company I am working at, a very reprentative job, and the fact that we don’t have any showers around here, didn’t make my decision easy to do so. But since then, I have been riding the 22 km (16 miles) one way at least 2 times a week (only exception: not on snowy days, as I prefer to ride trails than streets). I use the car for the rest of the week, preferably on such days on which I have meetings and got to appear dressed in a Suite. In the beginning, everybody thought I freaked out, but now, after 2 years, at least 5 people other than me are commuting by bike on a daily basis, and many others are riding privately (who haven’t cycled at all before). Now we have our showers and it’s much more fun. They feel healthy and are proud to be a part of it. I might think of selling the car soon, but no way I’ll give away my full-suspension Gary Fisher.

    Cheers from Germany! Ride on!

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  22. I am finding more and more folks are walking too. My car broke down several times last year. I finally chucked driving last November and have been mainly walking (also taking buses, trains on occasion). I live in suburban San Jose, so it’s not as if this is the simplest choice, but there’s something about walking that connects me intimately with my neighborhood, and surroundings and attunes me with the rhythm of footfall against the ground, and of the earth. I was subletting this spring in New Orleans, and found walking easy there. And this summer sublet in SF – a wonderful way to absorb the brightly muralled alleyways of the Mission district and allow serendipity to lead you to graffiti, sticker and stencil street art is to slow down to footstep pace.

    The grocery store is within 1/2 mile of my house. And I able to work from home.

  23. I agree with jhimm on public transport: “but instead of it taking an hour, on public transit, this commute would take nearly three hours!”

    I typically takes me 2 1/2 to 3 hours by a combo of subway, train and bus to commute from SF to SJ, which (depending on traffic) would take an hour (or 90 minutes tops) from my home by car.

    There is decent public transport to SF to Oakland and Berkeley (and other points in the East Bay), but not really to the South Bay. Ugh!

  24. The city I live in is designed for cars–not bikes or pedestrians. It’s a shame, really, because it makes getting around without a car very difficult.

    Luckily, I live in the downtown core, one of the few areas where a car isn’t really needed. I can walk or cycle just about anywhere that I would need or want to go.

    I do drive to work, because I’ve been unable to find a job that it close to home (or that allows me to work from home), and I do drive to a few other locations that are far from my apartment (my parents’ house, and the cheapest/best grocery store I know of), but I try to keep it to a minimum.

    Of course, in the winter, I drive a lot more because, well, I’m a baby (plus, it’s gets pretty damn cold up here in the Northern Wastes known as Canada).

    I actually wrote something on the topic on both of my blogs:

    http://rivercitywriter.com/motor-city/
    http://adamsnider.com/?p=154

  25. My point was, many transit options is typically better than one transit option (i.e. driving), suburbs are far less sustainable than well-connected city cores. Besides, didn’t they usually take cabs on Seinfeld? ;)

  26. I feel very fortunate to live in one of the most bike-friendly towns in the U.S. (Davis, CA) – over 40 miles of bike trails in our town. Both my mate and I often commute to our jobs by bike, because we’re lucky–we work where we live. Still, that doesn’t mean we don’t sometimes get lazy which finds one of us driving the mere 2 miles we commute to work (in different directions)…and I always feel guilty when that’s me. I often bike to the food co-op (on my 40-yr-old Schwinn), and I like being able to bike to my neighborhood conscious market and get a few things instead of driving to a huge supermarket. We lived in the Caribbean before moving here, and when we began researching places to live on the mainland, the thing that greatly appealed to me about Davis is that it’s not a typical suburb. It’s not a town filled with subdivisions and strip malls…it still has a downtown…and we choose to live there. We can walk to the post office, bank, farmer’s market, coffee houses, music stores, bookstores, restaurants, etc.

  27. When I lived in California, I was cited for riding my bicycle then fined $10 by traffic court for the offense. It took a few months to get the city of Fairfield to paint a bike lane where I was cited for riding.

    When I lived in Palo Alto, I used to connect from bike to bike. They were chained in common areas and I shared keys with 14 other guys. More cities could have such a plan but in Ireland, you would have to get local authorities used to the idea of dozens of bikes chained to street furniture.

    When I worked in Japan, it was difficult finding my bicycle among hundreds of others at the train station. In Dublin’s Heuston Station, the cleaning staff cut the bikes free of their chains and dump them into skips.

    Riding a bicycle is only half the story. The more important part is educating the local environment in ways to support cycling as a real mode of transportation.

  28. I own a car, but haven’t gotten round to gettling a driving licence yet, my wife uses it as she needs it for her work as a musician. I’m fortunate that I live in a small city, I mainly skateboard to work every day when the weather is good, I ride my bike occasionally too but usually either walk or skate!

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  31. I’ve always wanted to have the option to bike to work. I teach in a medium-sized school district, and visit each of the 6 buildings at least once a week, often travelling between them during the course of a day. I thought about leaving a bike, and just driving to and from home (biking between schools), but haven’t taken the initiative yet.

    As a single guy in a small apartment, groceries and other errands wouldn’t be that difficult on bike (I don’t think).

    Maybe it’s time I start bike shopping! This post, makes people think, which I hope, was your goal.

  32. I live in LA and just recently bought a bike, largely BECAUSE I moved into an apartment that is 2 miles from work. LA has gotten more and more bicycle friendly in the last few years and there are lots of bike lanes and routes that don’t involve major streets. I only ride once a week right now because I’m not in the best shape, but I figure riding a bike to work has a double benefit and soon I’ll be riding more than driving!

  33. I ‘m one Japanese who lives in outskirts in Nagoya that is called the third large city in Japan. I’m sorry my English is not perfect. There’s my office near my house, so I sometimes go there by bike. However, I have a lot of chances to use my car because of abnormal weather of this year. The bike used as a means of the movement is too dangerous for old people. In the future I think that the government in each country should straighten the infrastructure the safety for the movement to be able to live by working and shopping without moving from home. We should think about the transportation of people who cannot use neither car nor the bike more before whether it is a car or a bike is selected.

  34. At the beginning of July, I gave up all forms of transportation and use a bike to get everywhere.

    It’s a 6 mile trip to my work. Just over a mile and a half to the grocery store.

    It’s completely possible to do it, though I admit it’s harder in certain towns. But, in the entire state of California, it’s legal for a bike to use an entire lane for riding! (Look it up: CVC 21202)

    Ditch your car! Ride your bike!

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  36. I would definitely bike and am considering that as I look to alternative employment. At present It is not possible where I am, how ever in the past I have chosen to Bike whenever possible. I think that if a person believes this is a better option they should start now to influence the local city or town to encourage that by adding good bike paths. As a grandfather I can see that pushing for changes now may not help me so much but could help my grandchildren. By the way at 53 I expect to be biking for the next thirty years or so.

  37. I made the choice 7 years ago to give up my car … and followed nearly the exact path you described! Gave up my job a couple years later in favour of my own business, with offices located 2 minutes away. I find my world has become ‘micro’ – I LOVE my ‘hood (gritty and upscale all at once in Vancouver BC) and I really don’t like having to travel by car for any reason any more. I walk downtown, to entertainment, to work … it feels good.

  38. Cars are running cleaner now than ever and will continue to improve. We have twice the cars than we did in the early 70′s, and are polluting half as much. I’m not saying no to bikes (anything helps), but let’s acknowledge these improvements. Personally, I’m all for more biking and walking – not just for the environment, but for health reasons.

  39. The commute to work is not optional for me, although theoretically I should be able to work from home. My employer insists on people contact as part of my job description, so I have to be here every day. My answer was to buy a hybrid car.

    As for everything else, three years ago I moved to a place where I can walk to the grocery store, coffee shop, restaurants, etc. So my non-work commuting has been all but eliminated.

    It’s not my perfect world, but its getting there!

  40. “In fact, if gas were $10 a gallon, it might turn into a necessity — many people just wouldn’t be able to afford to drive to work and back.”

    What the other comment from a Londoner failed to mention is that gas pretty much IS $10 a gallon here (only a bit under £1/ltr == £4.50ish/gallon == $9ish from last exchange rate I remember). A big proportion of people in the UK drive for between 30mins to an hour to work, I think the average time is ~30mins from a survey I heard once.

  41. I quit driving in February. I have a 40 mile round trip commute, and I do most of it on BART (SFBAY AREA). I take my bike on BART and bike the rest of the way– approximately 5 miles per day.

    I would do this even if it cost me more than driving. It’s the right thing to do. It conserves resources, it lessens my environmental impact, and it keeps me fit.

    I do think that the time will come where many people may be forced to quit driving due to scarcity and high gas prices, but in the meantime there are many of us are making the transition because there are so many advantages.

  42. When I still lived in Germany, I used my bike a lot. Many people do. There is bike lanes everywhere. You have small shops locally where you can do your grocery shopping, the town centres haven’t developed into waste lands, because every shop moved out to the mall…. Now I live in Cairo and I wouldn’t use a bike, even if I worked 10 minutes away. I’d rather walk. Traffic is too friggin dangerous. Before that I lived in London and I wouldn’t have done it there either – too scary. With bike lanes? Yes. That is not going to happen in Cairo, they can’t even keep the roads fixed, make proper side walks or pick up the trash…
    Moving closer to work would be possible, but I do not want to live in that area. I live in one of the greenest areas of Cairo. I do walk quite a bit here. It is quiet, it’s green, there are lots of trees, the air is much better, fewer cars – lots of people walk here.
    I would use public transport, i.e. the train, if it stopped close enough to work, but it doesn’t.
    Working from home would be great and I could probably make that happen somehow, I am just not there yet. That’s part of my long term plans, that I don’t know how to action just yet.

  43. I live in a medium sized city that doesn’t quite have its mass transit system act together. I LOVE riding the bus. I LOVE not having to drive. If I’m not in a hurry and don’t need to be anywhere at an exact time, I take the bus.

    There are plenty of bike trails here. However, I’ve yet to find a bicycle that’s comfortable enough for me to make the effort to purchase and ride.

  44. Living in Osaka, Japan we’re lucky to have great train service. I do have a car (with a 660 cc engine), but I only drive it once every 1-2 months. Don’t own a bicycle, as they are a real hassle to park anywhere (ironic, isn’t it?) But, we love walking and will walk 1-2 hours to one of our favourite restaurants (Save on gas and save the waistline).

    I can no longer imagine living in North America, where a car is a necessity. No thank you. I feel much freer without the need for one.

  45. I just moved to the States from the UK and deliberately got an apartment near my office so that I could bike to work. It’s not just that I want to reduce my carbon footprint, I also like living in town near the amenities, bars, restaurants etc. Of course, I might regret this decision on days when the temp is -5degC/20degF!?

    Also, I biked in London for four years and I would argue that if you assert yourself on the road (make eye contact with drivers!) and take sensible (quieter) routes, you’ll can be safe.

  46. I don’t own a bike or a car. I don’t even have a licence.
    I walk anywhere within an hour or so travel time (by foot, clearly), providing it doesn’t dip below about -15c outside. Of course it does get pretty chilly in the winter, at which point I am likely to grab a bus. Anything further away, like visiting family in the ‘burbs, I take the subway and busses. I would consider a bike, but it is just too dangerous without proper bike lanes. We need more bike friendly routes across the cities!

  47. I live in a very car-centric city and do not own a car. I don’t own a bike either. I take public transport or I walk. We do have a lot of bike lanes, but not enough in my opinion. Also the buses have bike racks, but can only carry 2 at a time. I am considering moving closer to my job so that I can walk to work, which has always been my dream. I’m planning on getting a car eventually, but I’m not convinced that I’d be missing anything if I didn’t.

  48. I would still drive, for the several reasons below:
    * Bicycles are not safe, there’s accidents every day and I like my head the way it looks now. Sure there’s car accidents too, but it’s still less likely to get hurt in a car than on a bicycle or motorcycle.
    * There’s no shower at my worklplace, and there’s no way I could stand remaining sweaty and stinky all day, and I’d rather not smell my coworkers either so I”d discouraged them from riding if they asked me (they drive for the most part)
    * I like running, swimming, climbing, yoga, surfing and many forms of exercise, but I don’t enjoy riding a bicycle at all, and I like driving.
    * I don’t like breathing exhaust. (that’s why I run on treadmills).
    * I often run errands after work, or go to the gym, which implies carrying my gym bag in addition to my work/laptop bag, which is impossible on a bicycle, and sometimes I go grocery shopping too, and I need a car for this. I don’t really enjoy grocery shopping, it’s a chore for me and I’d rather do it as rarely as I can, which implies filling up my truck when I do. Also I Have 2 cats and litter is heavy and bulky.
    * It rains quite a lot in winter around here. I don’t want to drown my work gear (laptop) and be soaked all day on top of being sweaty, and damage my joints from being humid all day.

  49. I don’t bike to work, but I’d love to. Unfortunately, there are no showers at work, and the weather in Mumbai is extremely hot and humid. Also, public transport is either cheap but slow (bus) or expensive but fast (3 wheeler rickshaw), so I don’t need to own a vehicle of my own.

    I usually bike around my area in the evenings, but that’s purely for fun and exercise :D

  50. I don’t bike for ecological reasons; I bike to benefit me. At the age of 51, my resting pulse is 55; my blood pressure dropped 20 points; I have “legs of steel” which bodybuilders envy; I feel my clock has rolled back twenty years!

    The six miles to and fro work takes 25 minutes, not much slower than a car. No need to squeeze gym time into my schedule – fifty minutes of combined cardio and strength training five times every week, and it costs neither time nor money!

    No car payments, taxes, insurance, gas, or maintenance: thousands of dollars saved every year. My financial situation is much healthier than before.

    I used to drive tens of thousands of miles every year, but began to wonder about the gross inefficiency – why expend so much to propel a 3000 lb vehicle carrying just one passenger? Twenty or thirty pounds of bicycle and a bit of exertion will do the same job – far more cheaply, with many side benefits, and even faster for short trips!

    What’s not to like?

  51. I bike for fun, but if I would bike to work (on my roadie of course), I would have to gear up and my friends at work wouldn’t let me live down the garb I would roll in here with. It’s only 3 miles, so we were joking about finding a good golf cart and taking that instead.

    Thinking about vehicle fixes for global warming is unfortunately pretty narrow minded, since most of the fixes touted the most by the press, environmentalists is hybrids, which have a significantly higher tax on polluting our ground and water than regular cars. It’s basically putting the equivalent of those air pollutants and sticking it in the ground. E85 and Biodiesel are just as great, actually support the domestic economy, and don’t have nearly as much of a downside as hybrids.

    As for the few hummer comments, have you looked at full-blown pickup trucks / suburbans / expeditions lately? How about the heavy-duty trucks with lax emission standards? It seems as though these groups only pick fights they can win instead of the real ones.

    /rant

  52. I have just applied for a job right around the corner to my house and plan to ride my bike to work when I can.
    Living in Michigan makes that a little tougher to do when it comes to the winter months.
    Not necessarily because of the cold, but the snow and ice can make riding impossible.
    In the nicer months I would prefer to ride a bike to work as long as work isn’t to far. Not that I mind the fresh air or exercise but just because no one wants to get to work all sweaty. I can’t imagine that would be very comfortable for you or your co-workers :)
    More side walks or biking lanes would probably encourage more people to bike. Especially in high traffic areas.
    If work is really to far and you have to commute, then at least do it with some intelligence.
    I live next door to a business and people are constantly parking in the parking lot with their engine running for up to an hour sometimes. Is that really necessary?
    Also if your stopped at train tracks for a train then turn off your car while you wait. No need to sit there idling the engine.
    Especially in mild weather where you don’t need the heat or air conditioning.
    People can be totally ignorant to how wasteful they are.

  53. I did a bike/Bart commute when I lived in the Bay Area, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I’ve chosen my jobs based on short commute distance and/or public transit accessibility for 15 years now, though I’m lucky to be in technology and for the past 15 years there has been good demand for people in my field…but even if it’s harder to choose your job’s location, you can always try to live closer to where you end up working.

    At this point I live in Colorado, but I’m still working for a company in San Francisco–I just work from home most days, but I have to fly to SF once a month. At least I manage to take the bus to the airport–and I recently learned how cool it is to be able to bike to a mountain, work my way up to a 6000′ ridge, and still make it home during a (long) lunch hour. :)

    Boulder was rated the “Most Bikeable City in the US” by one survey, and has excellent public transit (that’s free if you can get an EcoPass), so I do end up biking and taking the bus a lot. But we haven’t gotten rid of our second car–I just don’t use it more than once a week or so.

  54. I ride my bike to work most days, 10 miles each way, takes me 45 min
    If the weather is bad then I take the bus, MBTA in Boston area now
    has bike racks on the front of almost all busses. My bike goes right
    on the front of the bus and I bicycle the last mile to work. My
    commute to work is out the Minuteman path to the Narrow Gauge Rail Trail.

  55. Pingback: Our Tough Nature » Choices: Drive? or Bike?

  56. I haven’t owned a car for years, and bike everywhere that I can. As a solution to grocery shopping, my husband and I have acquired a gardening wagon, that we can pull to our local grocery store (2 miles round trip) and that way we can bulk up and bring home heavy items.

  57. Continuing to rely on the car shows a lack of imagination. Just imagine how fantastic a city would be to live in without cars and with efficient public transport. And thats without getting into the benefits to the planet and your health. I believe there will come a time when it will be socially unacceptable to drive short distances. Its already becoming unaceptable to drive huge 4×4 here in Glasgow.

    As this article points ot the effect of a large scale switch to bikes has some many advantages. I used to work about 7 miles from the house and it took me sometimes 45 mins to get through the traffic. On the bike I could do it in 25 max. And arrived ready for the day. And the savings in diesel and running costs for the car was huge.

    I used to love cars and owned a serties of Mercs, Saabs etc but it was when I test drove a Landrover Disco for a week I suddenly discovered how fuel inefficient these cars are – I was shocked. In one journey between Manchester and Glasgow and back cost me £70 worth of diesel. Thats only 400 miles of motorway driving. Goddknos how many tons of carbon I releases that day.

    Then I read a couple of books – How to Save the Planet by Mayer Hillman and Heat by George Monbiot. They changed my whole outlook on things. I even used to commute to London every week and I haven’t flown in 3 years. I just can’t believe people van be so arrogant as to dismiss glabl warming as a hoax. These people are in denial. Are they really willing to take the risk with the future of the planet.

    There is a solution out there and its called carbon rationing – responsible use of energy – its the future

  58. I think I will bike…

    When people in Tokyo can do it (The Average person travels a great deal there), I think it’s possible to do the same world over. One thing that can help is a proper public transportation system, especially in more developed and emerging nations.

  59. I actually prefer to walk rather than bike or use the car. My closest grocery store is about a fifteen-minute brisk walk, which is reasonable. I have an easier time handling groceries when walking than biking. And a bike is just one more thing to store, maintain, fix, etc.

  60. if anyone here is a fan of Randy Cohen’s column The Ethicist in the NY Times magazine, here is an interview with him on the ethics of urban transportation:

    http://www.streetfilms.org/archives/transportation-ethics/

    here’s a taste:
    “Ethics primarily concerns itself with the effect of our actions on other people. Especially when you live close together in a city it’s very easy for one person’s actions to have a profound effect on another… and it seemed to me that what was significantly undermining the ordinary daily happiness and health and economic life of both me and my fellow New Yorkers was the private car.”

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