Today we have a guest post courtesy of Sam Thompson, from Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less:
I started working in Raleigh in spring of 2009. At the time, I lived about 45 minutes away. The long commute did not bother me that much while I was driving; I would listen to podcasts and the radio and mentally prepare for my day. What wore on me was how much time it ate up. My commute took about an hour and a half every day. That is seven and a half hours a week, which equals about 30 hours every month or 15 full days driving to and from work every year. That is a lot of time I could have spent exercising, or sleeping, or cooking, or hanging out with my wife and friends and dog.
I biked to work today. I get to work that way most of the time these days. I take a car if it’s raining, or if I need to drive to a meeting or somewhere after work, but otherwise I ride my bike. I am not an athlete or even an avid cyclist, I am just (finally) in a position where biking is a viable way for me to get to work. It is also important to admit that my house is less than a mile from my office. The ride takes me five to ten minutes depending on how long I have to wait at the one intersection I have to cross.
We moved to our current house in spring of 2012. All the places we considered were close to my work. There are definitely factors that allow me to commute to work on my bike that are not in place for everyone. The most critical is the fact that my wonderfully flexible wife is willing to drive 40 minutes to her work. Additionally, we rent instead of own, so if my job changes or moves we are not locked into the location for the long-term. I wish I could say that bike-friendly roads between my house and work were another helpful factor, but that’s not the case. Half the ride is along a busy road with no bike lanes. Our lovely North Carolina weather is not always bike commuter friendly either. The cold does not bother me that much, but I often show up to work sweaty in the summer. We have a shower in our building if I need it, but usually I can just hide from coworkers until it subsides.
Those things aside though, biking to work is fantastic. I don’t have to worry about parking or buying gas. I get a little exercise on my commute every day. On days when there’s enough light, I can hit the greenway and take a lovely ride after work. I get to do more of all of the things that I wanted to be doing instead of spending hours in the car. I sleep more. I get to spend more time with my wife and dog. I get home in time to cook dinner. To explain the best part though, you have to understand that that my ride home after work is mostly downhill. Once I get into my neighborhood, I take my hands off the handlebars and coast, feeling the breeze on my face. Nothing makes me feel more like work’s done and it’s time to relax than that.