Why you should commute by bike
Saving your time & money
It may seem counterintuitive but, especially in our bigger cities, commuting by bike is often the quickest way to get from point A to B. Recently I moved to New Zealand’s capital, Wellington, and every morning I cruise downhill past queues of stationary cars, just waiting at the traffic lights. I do live pretty close to my work – walking there takes 20 minutes, but by bike it’s five minutes; going by car would take even longer if you were trying to find a park, as well as costing $20 a day for parking.
Swapping out the cost of car parking for a year for bike commuting would save you $4,800 – and this amount will get you a very nice commuter bike, with heaps leftover for some nice lunches or some fresh new cycling gear. As a bonus, there are lots of cycle clothing items including jackets and vests which double up as both commuting and training kit.
Increasing your fitness & improving mental health
There’s nothing worse than finishing a hard work day and then sitting in traffic to go home and then going on to training. Jumping straight on the bike after work gets you in a good headspace and clears the head. It also helps get you motivated; if you get out of a warm car on a slightly chilly day you get a bit worried about your ride being too nippy, but if you ride home you realise how quickly you warm up when doing a bit of exercise!
A study of 30,000 people aged 20-93, held in Denmark over 14 years, found that regular cycling provided protection from heart disease. If your commute is a bit longer than mine, you could have the opportunity to build up some base fitness, kitted out in commuting-friendly Trail Shorts, especially on the days where you might not otherwise have time to go explore.
Riding bikes is also just really good fun, hooning down the hill to work in the morning is way more exciting than walking or stressing about finding a carpark. It’s cool that there is bike clothing that can be worn on and off the bike, items like Enduro Shorts which are super functional and at the same time look like everyday clothing, not pure sports apparel.
Playing your part for the environment
Another reason to consider riding outside of training is that you’ll have a lighter touch on the planet. For each trip you bike, that’s less air pollution and CO2 going into the local environment and atmosphere. If you look at vehicles on the motorway, they mostly carry one person plus their work lunch, maybe their laptop, and this is all stuff you could carry on the bike.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes there isn’t an easy alternative – when I was working as a builder, I had to carry many tools and often drove between different sites during the day. Managing to incorporate even one cycle journey into your weekly commute can make a difference, but the logistics aren’t always simple.
Nick Hextall, co-owner of the joinery marketplace CHCH Doorman in Christchurch (New Zealand), who also sponsors a cycling team with custom clothing likes to bike into work and jokes that it’s a company requirement. Asked why he wants staff to bike to work Nick says “It’s quick, it’s easy and you start the workday off feeling alive and energized. Most people I see drive to work shuffle in from the car to the office in a zombified oxygen-deprived state; riding to work brings people to life for the day.”
New Zealand Transport Agency reports that in the past few years many people have changed their views and see the importance of biking to work. Organisations like the Australian Bicycle Network have been set up, offering great support for cyclists who want to start cycle commuting and workplaces who would like to offer incentives to their staff to ride to work by bike. This shift goes hand in hand with many cities working hard to improve the quality of cycle paths, with Melbourne using a smartphone app to connect with users.
One date which you should mark in your calendar (it is on different dates in different countries), is the Bike to Work Day, which is an annual event to promote cycle commuting. Maybe that’s a good date to start your new journey?
About the author
Ben Cannon is the manager of the CHCH Doorman Elite Cycling Team. The team has traditionally been a road racing team, but with the demise of some of the local events and team series, they’ve shifted focus into mountain biking, cyclocross, and gravel. This is an area of great opportunity as Safe Traffic Management Services (STMS) rules become more stringent, road races become harder to organise and harder to make viable. Gravel, mountain bike, and cyclocross don’t face this to the same extent and there is increasing interest as people feel safer riding and racing away from the traffic.