Changing gears is an easy way to thing about it. You see a hill coming and your legs start straining and moving slower as the grade changes so you change gears to make the pedalling easier. Your legs spin faster, you see the opportunity to gain speed you shift again into a higher gear. Changing from driving your car to and from work, and riding your bike may not happen quite so easily, but it is a case of adaptation to your environment.
Recently I moved, which brought me to a place where I can walk to and from things like the grocery store, great little restaurants, and handy shops within a few short blocks. Getting to work on the other hand is much further away. It’s not just a matter of distance though it has to do with traffic congestion, and if driving, time spent idling in a car. North Vancouverites did not have to contend with traffic so much in the past, but as the mountains across from the ‘big city’ continue to build condos so abundantly, traffic as a result of construction and more people makes it slower to drive around on the Shore. Vancouver is connected to the Shore via bridges and those can back-up themselves. Anyone who lives on one side of these bridges and has friends on the other knows all about the bridge talk. although they are just another driving surface people on the Shore never seem to go downtown for anything and people in the downtown seem to put off visiting friends on the North Shore.
So, if you worked on one side of these bridges, why would you choose to live on the other? Driving must not be worth it if people make such a big deal about travelling across these lofty transport routes. That’s exactly it. For me it’s worth living on the Vancouver side and my work happens to be on the Shore, but it’s just not worth driving.
When you have the option of a 12 minute bike ride or a 6 minute drive, often it doesn’t seem to matter which choice you make. But, when you have potentially 50 minutes of shuffling along a route that you know should only take you 20 minutes traffic free, it just gets trying. The option of a 40-45 minutes bicycle commute, which you have almost complete control over how long it takes, seems like a much better option. Doesn’t it?
With gas prices only increasing, cycling lanes abundant, and sanity a top priority, cycle-commuting makes lots of sense. I have now lowered my car insurance and only fill my car up every 2 of 3 weeks. Plus, I quite enjoy the sights. The nice sunny days do make up for the rainy ones and Vancouver being such a beautiful city there’s no end to the surrounding views to take in, not to mention the hilarity of what some people arm themselves in to commute. People watching is definitely interesting as you see some crazy outfits! Of course there is the fitness as well. My commute is approximately 18km at the least in each direction. So if I ride every day I am riding about 180km per week without adding in mountain bike rides.
I can understand how the idea of riding to work in the raining slop or, the length of riding day in day out would seem like a daunting challenge to take on, but I encourage people to try it. Whether it’s starting off at one day per week, or taking it full on there is a joy found in cycling to work which I am glad I have been put in a place to realize.
Bike to work week is May 26th – June 1st.