Why I Commute By Bike | The Uncensored Response

The other day someone stopped by my office and asked me a straightforward question: “Why do you ride your bike to work every day?”

And, although this question is a really simple one, I wasn’t really sure how to answer it.  I am almost certain that my co-worker was just making polite conversation and not looking for a deep-dive into the philosophical, ethical, and psychological implications of why bike commuters do what they do.

My immediate, uncensored response would have been to ask the question: “Why would someone drive a car to work every day?” but that could seem somewhat rude.

Bike Commuter on a trail
When I get asked why I ride my bike to work, I really want to respond with, “Why would anyone drive a car to work?”

Why I Ride My Bike To Work

Because I ride for 40 min to and from work each day, it gives me the time to not only wind down (or ramp up) for my day at work, but gives me some serious contemplation (or cycling podcast) time.

To be totally honest, in the past I’ve struggled with mental wellness and cycling every day gives me just what I need to face the day ahead.  It affords me the time and quiet to mentally prepare my to-do list for work and get started as soon as I sit down at my desk. Plus it allows this introvert an opportunity to prepare for hours of teaching 50 over-caffeinated undergraduate students in a science lab.  My bike commute creates space for quiet in my everyday routine. After a day of raucous university students, my ride home involves more quiet, more self reflection and the perfect opportunity to decompress. Thankfully when I arrive home I’m more present with my family and much happier.

Happy Bike commuter in fall
The real, honest reason is, that riding my bike makes me happy. It helps with my mental well being and I’m a better person because of the bike ride.

Share My Commute With Me

I travel out of my neighbourhood and pass home, after quiet home.  The sun has barely risen in the sky and a few people are heading off to work just like me.  Only they’re backing out of their driveways in their SUVs. I breathe in the fresh air and noticed how the sunlight is hitting the few fluffy clouds and creating a sky that looks like cotton candy.  As I navigate onto busier roads, traffic has slowed, but I don’t. I hit the wide shoulders of the local artery into the city. Some days I pass lots of cars on this stretch and some days they pass me.  I notice the sunlight hitting my face and the fresh breeze pushing against myself and the bike. The wind is strong today. Because of the wide shoulder, I don’t need to focus so much on the traffic. I do see lots of folks – sometimes white knuckled, sometimes dancing to music, but mostly looking stressed as they slowly inch forward. I zip off the busy road and down a trail. 

Bike Commuter on trail
My most favourite part of my ride to work is on the trail. I’m surrounded by nature and aside from the occasional person out for a walk, I don’t have any traffic to worry about.

I don’t see any traffic again until I enter the city. This is my favourite part of the ride into work; a wide, hard-packed gravel trail winding it’s way through mixed forest. Occasionally I see someone walking their dog or enjoying their own time outdoors.  I give them a nod or the infamous cyclist half wave.  Before I know it the trail has ended and I’m now in the city.  Here, I need to concentrate on the passing cars. I’m forced to focus a lot more. Someone gives another motorist the finger. One driver honks because the light changes green and traffic didn’t move immediately. I’m thinking about what I need to prep for the lab today and how I’m going to explain the intricacies of protein purification to 50 intro biochemistry students.  I turn into the University and make my way to the secure bike storage. I grab my Two Wheel Gear pannier bag and head to my office. As I walk to my building, I see drivers struggle to find parking spaces and a couple near misses in the lot. For me cycle commuting has never been about the environment – although I really like that part of it. It has always been about my own well being, both mental and physical.

Bike Commuter with pannier in forest
Riding my bike to work has always been about my well being – both physical and mental.

Why You Ride Your Bike To Work

I reached out to my fellow bike commuters on Instagram and twitter to ask how you would respond to my coworker’s question.  Here’s what you said.

Cycling saves me money on gas and also saved my health. It’s an activity I look forward to everyday. (@HerbertBalagtas)

I’m often feeling lazy and even looking for excuses not to get on my bike. But within two minutes on the bike, my head has cleared and I am feeling good. It makes my day, every day. (@DavidTrueman)

It reminds me of how simple it is to feel good.  Wind in my face, fresh air in my lungs, no traffic jams to spoil my commute. (@S_Kristoferson)

I’ve always loved cycling, and commuting by bike was an easy way to get my car off the road and help do a little bit to fight climate change. (@OrangeCrimp)

Overheard two car commuters in my office talking about having (one guy) and needing (the other guy) heated seats in their cars. The beauty of biking to work is that this 30 degree Denver morning was PERFECT bike commute weather 😁 (@legoshadow)

I simply tell them how it takes less than half the time, I feel better and I don’t have to pay for gas and parking they still think I’m nuts (@jjdh_hfx)

It’s the best way to wake up in the morning (@tiiannele)

I feel happier, I’m doing my bits to save the planet, I save a lot of time. (@isaifi)

Charge up for the day with some elevated heart rate and fresh air! … also, suck it traffic! (@we_will_get_there_media)

Reply with why do you drive to work everyday? Or try saying, “I dare you to try it for one week and you will see” (@dadfit77)

Because you love it! It’s like solar energy that you store in the morning and use it through the day (@boubikes)

Bike commuter with pannier
Heading home with a clear head – you can’t beat it!

Have a good ride!

~ Joe

Instagram | @joe.meissner

 

 

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