Commuting. We all do it, and it typically calls to mind hustle, bustle, road rage, delays…an altogether unpleasurable daily event. But I can say unequivocally that I enjoy my commute to and from work, and that’s entirely due to riding my bike instead of relying on a bus, subway, or car to get there. Now, I know that for some people, it’s simply not feasible to ride a bike to work. But I also know that for many people, it is possible, it’s just a matter of personal preference that they might choose not to. Not wanting to get sweaty, thinking they don’t have time, not feeling comfortable biking in traffic…I think a lot of those are kind of shoddy excuses.
With the advent of bike share programs in cities across the country (and world!), I’d encourage anyone who even has the slightest inkling that they might want to try bike commuting to hop on a bike, give it a shot, and reap some of the following benefits.
After an 8 mile bike commute in the morning, I arrive to work energized, refreshed, focused, and ready to tackle the day. Conversely, if I take the subway, I inevitably find myself frazzled (from subway delays), stressed (from being crammed in with strangers and from subway delays), disgusted (from getting stuck walking behind people smoking), and mentally drained. Not a fun way to start every single work day.
When biking, you have no choice but to be mindful of everything – of cars, of people, of your surroundings, of traffic lights, of other bikes, of pigeons in the bike lane. When I take the subway, I try my best to zone out and try to forget that I’m in a subterranean metal tube hurtling down ancient rail lines, all while squished like a sardine with fellow commuters, many of whom are inevitably coughing, sneezing, or doing any number of unappealing things. Once, I was sitting next to a woman who was eating a pickle in a pouch. It was horrifying.
There are some things in life that people purchase without so much as a second thought. For most people in New York, I’d venture to say that a monthly unlimited subway pass is one of these items. When we moved to Brooklyn in May of 2012, I was still buying a monthly subway pass to commute to my job in SoHo. It only took one sweaty, stinky summer of subway commuting for me to come to the realization that I couldn’t keep doing that. In early August 2012, I bought my trusty steed and since then, have never purchased another unlimited subway pass.
Instead, during those days, weeks, and occasionally months when I am relegated to the subway due to inclement weather, I simply add $20 here and there. The current cost of an unlimited card in New York is $116.50. I haven’t kept tabs on how much I’ve saved exactly, but I think it’s safe to say that the number is well over $2,000 during my 3.5 years of bike commuting.
Honestly, this falls towards the bottom of the list for me. Biking is undoubtedly a fantastic cardio workout, but as someone who adheres to a regular workout routine, my bike commute is just gravy at this point. I don’t bike fast and I don’t count the calories I burn, but I’d encourage anyone who is looking to easily shed a few stubborn pounds to hop on a bike. Even if you keep doing and eating exactly like you currently do, you’ll drop a few pounds effortlessly from the additional activity during your day.
Stop and smell the roses, they say. Well, roses in New York City are few and far between…but with biking, I’ve discovered lots of little side street cafes, shops in other neighborhoods, breathtaking sunsets, and awesome graffiti.
And for any ladies out there who are thinking, “Man, I’d love to bike to work but what about my clothes/makeup/hair!?”…I’ll be doing a follow-up post soon about my tried-and-true bike bag essentials, and how I make it work. Hint: dry shampoo!