Coffee Talk Tuesday - What's keeping you from commuting by bike more?

This week's coffee talk has to do with perceived barriers to commuting, why don't more Colorado cyclists use cycling for more than just a recreational experience? Coffee talk discussion gives me the chance to rant and you a chance to fire back with your 2 or 4 cents.

This past Tuesday I broke the rules, while on business travel to Milwaukee I elected to not get a rental car but instead commute from hotel to office by bike. It was only a little over 2 miles on what I would consider a fair road, should have been easy, right? Not exactly.

The first obstacle was finding an actual bike to ride. In Boulder and Denver we have bike sharing in most of the business districts and many of the big hotels have complementary bikes for the patrons to use, so for someone to attempt this here would seem like a no brainer. In Milwaukee there is no bike sharing program and there were no complementary bikes at my hotel. There was also no bike shop within a ten mile radius, where I could rent a bike. So, I had to appeal to a co-worker to lend me his bike. Bike in hand, I thought this is going to be great, my 100th day of commuting by bike to work this year will take place in Milwaukee! But obtaining a bike wasn't my only obstacle.

Of the 3 days in Milwaukee, I commuted 2 times, weather on day 3 was beyond terrible. While I've ridden to work in Boulder on some extreme days (remember my recent commute using snow chains on my tires?)but horizontal rain was definitely not in my plans. There were no showers at work, but not a huge deal as it was only 2 miles. Bikes were forbidden inside the building, so I had to lock my colleague's bike to what appeared to be a bike rack bolted to the asphalt conveniently located next to the company's back-up generators. On my 3 days at this 300+ employee campus I was the only known cyclist. While I didn't ride all 3 days, hey 2 outta 3 ain't bad!



My stats from WorldCommute.com

This adventure really made me appreciate what the Boulder/Denver area has to offer cyclists, we really do have it made, true that there is still plenty of room for improvement but relative to other parts of the country it is still pretty darn nice. But why don't you see more cyclists commuting to their destinations?

Why don't we use our bikes for more than just racing, training and playing

No, I'm not telling you to go sell your car(s), cut the cable and go off the grid, just choose to make 1 trip a week that you would normally do by car but do it by bike? That may include riding to work, with your kids to school, to the grocery store (or liquor store), post office, etc. Have you heard of the Cliff Bar 2 Mile challenge where they state 40% of U.S. urban travel is 2 miles or less and 90% of those trips are by car!

Top excuses for not riding your bike for living purposes

  1. Live too far from work Don't ride to work, pick something else like grocery store
  2. No showers at my work Either slow down and don't get so sweaty or use some of the new products like Action wipes for that very reason.. or do #1
  3. I don't have a commuter bike or any bags Plan ahead, take your work clothes the day before to work. If $$$ is the issue then Community Cycles can show you how to make practical panniers for less than $15.
  4. There's no safe route to get to work. The route you drive to get to your job might not be the safest, but it probably isn't the only route. Find an alternative route that may be less efficient, but could be very pleasant and safe... or consider #1
  5. Doesn't fit into my training schedule If racing is your job then I agree, so those 8 paid riders reading this are exempt

You already love cycling, hence you're on this website, so increase that passion in a way that is more rewarding than buying solar panels or getting an electric car

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6 Comments

Live too far?

If you feel you live too far to commute, then try creative commuting: drive part way and bike the remainder. Or, drive in with your bike on the car one day, leave the car at work and ride home; then ride in the next day and drive back home with the bike on the car.

RE Cleaning Up: Keep a stash of personal items and a towel at work. If there is no shower, freshen up with a "Euro-bath" from the sink before beginning work.

RE Locking Your Bike: It's difficult to tell exactly from the photo, but it appears the bike is not actually locked. All a thief would need to do is open the front wheel quick release and let the wheel drop down. Then the bike could easily be removed with the wheel and u-lock dragging behind. The thief would deal with the u-lock later. The moral: Lock your bike with a lock going through a portion of the frame (I recommend rear triangle and real wheel) and around part of the bike rack. Including the front wheel bay removing it and placing it along side the rear wheel is even better.

A combination

My company's new location will not allow bikes in the buildings, and I'm just not comfortable locking my bikes on an outdoor rack all day.

I used to fit commuting into my training plan, but now the ride is a lot less bike friendly and I can't even bring my bike in when I show up anyways.

I ride my bike nearly every

I ride my bike nearly every day of the year because my husband bought a stick and I am still afraid to drive it in Boulder traffic. Yes that's pathetic but it's only 5K to my job and it means I already have a jump on having stuff to do a ride later in the day if I want. Plus there's always the bus if it's ultra windy or snowy.

pros: I have a locker and showers at my work.
cons: I have a suit job that I have to be dressed and at my desk for by 8AM so it forces me to be up at 5:30 AM to get there and get dressed in time (if you don't have to match dress/shoes/purse and makeup and do your hair everyday, then consider yourself VERY lucky).

if I had kids though I can guarantee the whole thing would be an absolute non-starter.

Start with riding one way

I ride to work from Arvada to downtown Denver from March to November. While the most direct route is 15 miles by car, I try to avoid main roads, and take the bike paths which bumps up the mileage to 21 miles. It takes longer, but is way more relaxing not having to worry about cars. After a long day at work though, I'm often not in the mood to bike home, so I jump on the RTD. We have a pretty good resource with the number of bike racks affixed to the buses, so we should use them.

I keep dress shirts, pants, socks, and an iron at work. Every week, I'll bring them to the cleaners. No one would know that I bike to work since I'm clean and dressed before others get to work.

The biggest hurdle is trying it and sticking with it. It took me about a month to get the route and clothing situation worked out. Now, I dread the days when I can't commute by bike!

Man it is fun!

Here at Excel Sports we have guys that live 2 miles from work and others who live in excess of 30! I think nearly all ride in at some point though the employees who live in excess of 30 don't ride in as frequently. Boulder makes it easy and really fun. I think Jody and Tobin have probably the coolest commute that I have seen personally: http://www.youtube.com/embed/2k7WczF7dSA

My commute happens regularly depending on the season. I ride in from i25 to Boulder on Baseline. It is a great ride with plenty of shoulder and typically reasonable traffic. If the weather is nice it is very enjoyable, if the wind gets kickin' well, it gets a bit frustrating at times. With the proper planning it is a great trip and a great way to start the day! I find that there are times when I get busy and truly begin to forget how nice it is to ride in to work in the morning. When I come to my senses and hop on the bike after a few weeks of not riding in it always just seems to be the most refreshing time I have on my bike and a great reminder that I should do this all the time!