The problem with blogging about triathlon training is that when you injure yourself like a dummy on the ski slope your blog gets really boring. But, I’ve also promised to talk about my adventures in bike commuting and I don’t want to leave you disappointed.
So here’s the back story. In September 2011, I decided to stop driving and rely on my bicycle and public transit to get around. I did it to save money and to keep from putting myself and others in peril every time I get behind the wheel of a car. I’m a truly terrible driver. It is now six months later and I haven’t regretted the decision even once.
I’ve easily saved several thousand dollars toward my Europe vacation (Oktoberfest lodgings booked!). I can also tell I’ve become a much stronger cyclist in these past few months. Plus, I feel healthier and happier. I’ve gotten a chance to see the sights and enjoy the sounds of my city in a whole new way and met some very interesting people.
I’m not saying trading in four wheels for two is for everyone. Although there is plenty of room for improvement, Austin has a fairly reliable public transit system. I enjoy riding the train to work and I’ve depended on the bus at times to get home at night during the harsh Texas winter. You know, the 3 days of sub-40 degree temperatures we must endure. I live in a convenient location for shopping, dining, and entertainment. I also have a lot a free time and few personal commitments so it isn’t difficult for me to get to the places I need to be.
As gas prices tick ever so steadily toward $4 a gallon I know many of you are getting nervous. Everyone cringes and curses watching their budget implode at the gas pump, but few people resolve to make a change in their transportation habits. I read a news story today about how Americans are cutting back in other areas of their budget to make up for the bite being taken out by gas prices. People are eating out less or choosing cheaper fast food. But no one mentioned actually taking aim at the problem, the gas guzzling vehicle.
You see, Americans are so hooked on convenience that we just can’t imagine our lives without cars. Not even just a little bit. I’ve learned some things these past few months that are at least worth considering. First of all, biking to a location that’s less than 5 miles away really doesn’t take that much longer than it would in a car once you factor in traffic and parking. You also get a workout in on the way. I love multitasking!
Speaking of multitasking, what if you used public transit just 2-3 times a week? Maybe it will take you longer to get to and from work. But, you could use that time to check and send emails and other tasks that you would normally cram in to the first 30 minutes on the job. Or, I bet you live within 5 miles of your gym. Why not bike or run there instead of driving just to jump on a treadmill?
One question I’m commonly asked is what I do when it rains or turns cold. The answer is that I survive. I’ve learned riding my bike in the rain can be miserable at times or it’s really refreshing. I’ve discovered cycling through the cold gives me a good excuse to stop halfway and warm up with a beer. Plus, I look tough as nails when I have snot frozen to my face.
Have you found some ways to use your car less or seriously considered ditching it completely?