The hardest thing for many people to do is ride a bike to run errands. Honestly, I have been guilty of this myself. It is just so easy to take a car from the house to the store down the street. We try to justify this by saying that “the car holds more”.
This is true to be honest. A car will almost always hold more than a bicycle. The only exception to this rule would be a Smart car or possibly a McLaren F1. Yes, those are two totally different cars, I know this. I am a car guy and have been for years. I do believe there are a few cargo bikes out there that could easily hold more than either of these vehicles. Besides, a bicycle gets better gas mileage than either, so stuff that in your pipe and smoke it.
Back to the topic of commuting (ADD kicking in yet again…oooooh shiny thing!). Due to my excuse generating nature at times, I decided that I had to remove my excuses. One of my excuses was that my Timbuk2 messenger bag could not hold enough for the trip on a bike. I do have a Topeak rack with a trunk bag, but it is small and holds stuff good for long rides. I can stash sunblock, tools, spare tube, my wallet, keys, phone, zip-ties, food, spare gels, tire levers, patch kit, and more in the trunk bag. The problem is, unless I’m shopping for a few candy bars, the bag is useless for commuting. So to go along with the rear rack on my commuter, I got a set of Avenir Metro panniers.
Before you ask (via dictionary.com):
Pannier (pan-nier) [pan-yer, -ee-er]: a type of bag, usually one of a pair, fastened over a bicycle’s rear wheel.
So you who did not know what a pannier is, now you know. Learn something new every day! So essentially it is a canvas bag set that straps to the rear rack on my bicycle. Before you get into the whole “how much did that cost???” thing, realize that these are rather cheap to own. I snagged them off Amazon.com for $30. Almost a steal when you think about it. These bags could hold 4 1-gallon containers of milk with ease. So they have some good volume for the price.
People often think cycling is expensive, and yes, it can be. If you think you need the best of everything, yes it can get quite expensive. People tend to believe you need an ultra high priced bicycle to commute on. Give me a break people. You can get a quality bicycle for as low as $350. That bicycle will last for years and do the job of a commuter. Now, if you want a lighter and better rolling bicycle, you will be spending more like $600 for a bike.
Take my commuter for example. It is a Specialized Hardrock Sport 29-er Disc. It is a 29″ wheeled mountain bike with front suspension. Not a light bicycle, but not crazy heavy either. The bike cost me $600 brand new. Including the rack, panniers, and 35c tires I tossed on it, I have invested maybe $100 since (not including maintenance). Think of how much it costs to run your car. I am sure I can easily make up $700 in a years time if I take my bicycle to all the stores near me. If I factor in the gas (which is on the rise again), the wear on the car, the fact that the a/c will barely be cold by the time I get to where I am going, and also that it takes maybe an extra 5 minutes to get to my destination, I am saving loads. Tires are not cheap on a car, nor is oil and gas. Plus the catalytic converter on a car does not even properly filter out pollutants until it gets hot. The small trips do not heat the catalytic enough to reduce emissions. So the vehicle is dumping more emissions into the air than when it is hot. All of this should be reason enough to ride. Yet people refuse to.
People also have this thought process that a person riding a bicycle on the street has a death wish. When is the last time you saw a cyclist (not a recreational rider, but a true cyclist) text and ride? How about putting on makeup while riding? How about eating fast food, while on the phone while riding? I honestly can say that I have never seen any of those take place before. Yet drivers do it all the time and think cycling is dangerous? Wake up people, the issue is the people driving a lethal device and yet they refuse to acknowledge that it is lethal. They have become immune to the thought that a car is a killing machine. How many cyclists have been killed because they have collided with another cyclist in the past year? I think the number is probably in the single digits. How many people have been killed because they were driving and collided with another vehicle in the past year? In the hundreds of thousands? So saying that cycling is dangerous is a myth. Cars are dangerous and they are what make people think cycling is dangerous. Keep that in mind.
So we do not have a death wish, we simply like spending less time in a box, separated from the fresh air (the kind that is not coming out of your exhaust pipe), and like the wind blowing in our face. Also, it is nice to know that instead of slowly killing yourself by not exercising at all, we are getting some calorie burning done. My wife has even commuted with me to a few places. We had a blast doing it. It is a good time to chat, plus you are not in a rush. You factor in the additional time, or (if you are like me) you just do not even think about time. If it is a day off, why do we feel like we must adhere to a schedule? Unplug and enjoy a relaxing ride. If you must run an errand, do not think about a time frame, just head out and run it. People have become obsessed with time. We need everything NOW! Breathe in, breathe out, and relax. Regardless of what you think, you will not die if you do not get your instant gratification. Plus exercise helps calm the mind, body and soul. You will actually be less stressed when you get to your destination. Amazing how that works.
So cycling only takes a little bit longer to reach your destination, you are burning calories and also more relaxed when you get to your destination. Interesting how that is yet people still do not want to do it. Here is a good example. The elementary school near my house. It is smack dab in the middle of the neighborhood. There are tons of sidewalks filtering their way to the school. Yet every single day I see stay at home mom and dads parked in their cars, waiting in line to drop off/pick up their child. WHY? You live maybe a mile from the school? Why do you feel you need to drive to get your child? Fine, I will make an exception to this if it is raining, but it is not raining every day. Ride your bike! Your child can ride his or her bicycle as well. Kids tend to really enjoy riding their bike. I used to ride mine to the elementary school near the house I lived in at the time. I enjoyed the freedom because I did not have to adhere to a schedule. I could leave when I wanted, not when the school bus was leaving, or when my mom was outside waiting for me to get in. No lines, I just walked out, unlocked my bike, hopped on it and pedaled home. It is 100-percent freedom! Your child will think so too. Plus you do not have to tell them to put on their seat belt. Just have the helmet handy, let them put it on, and you are off.
I am not saying you are going to die if you do not ride your bicycle, nor am I saying you will. I am simply saying give it a chance. Stop generating excuses, get a bike and enjoy what God (mother nature, whatever you believe) has put on this planet. Believe it or not, we were meant to be out in nature. Why do you think so many people enjoy being outside? It is calming, the green is easier on your eyes than the bleached white inside your house, the glow of your computer screen, or the small screen and text on your smart phone.
Also, if you like generating excuses for not doing it, remove them. I am honestly looking forward to running an errand or two on my bicycle. I cannot wait to try out the new panniers. I am even thinking about riding to my church for my morning Bible study. Of course I will do a “test” ride on my day off to see how long it would take and to get an idea of what traffic and lighting will be like. I think it would be a great ride honestly, even with some traffic. Just to get out and enjoy life, enjoy riding and enjoy being outside. It is worth a little sweat and some additional time.
Honestly, get out and give it a try. Many people bash things before they ever even try it. It is a shame. If I was that way, I would have never tried sushi. Thanks to my wife I now absolutely love sushi. She would have never tried Indian food if I did not take her, now she loves it. I have had rattlesnake as well, and I must say it is rather tasty. Give new things a try, you will be amazed by what you end up enjoying.