[This commute story is from Dale Oswald. -ed.]
I live in a medium-sized metro area with a lot of tech jobs going away. Though the economy is suffering, there are still jobs out there, but they’re with smaller companies that pay less and are scattered about. My situation put me at a new job, farther away from work (32mi/50km). Despite the lower pay and longer commute, I am fortunate to find work that matches my skills, experience and temperament.
My medium-sized metro area also has spotty transit coverage. My commute starts on one side of the city and ends at the other. Park & Ride busses aren’t scheduled to make this kind of connection, and using local buses doubles my transit time. I only use transit when no other option is available. Combinations of bike and bus don’t work well, either.
Walking out your door in street clothes and arriving at work ready to go is simpler and faster than changing clothes, locking up your bike and covering the seat, walking back and forth from your work area to where you change, doing extra laundry and managing your clothing in variable weather.
My solution is to drive about 20 miles and ride 13. The night before, I load my bag and lay out my cycling clothes. I drive an older car with little theft value that is large enough to put my SWB recumbent inside. I park in a shopping plaza near a multi-use trail, then use the trail plus suburban streets to ride to work. The process starts at 5:45 am and ends at 8:00 or so. At night, I leave my desk at 5 pm and am home by 7 pm. When all is said and done, this combination takes me about 1:50 longer than driving, but it’s all riding time. And at today’s fuel prices (6/08) I have reduced my daily fuel cost from US$11.25 to $7.
The only glitch in this is that the last half mile is on a busy arterial with no shoulders. I found a way around by obtaining permission to cross private property (church grounds) to the back of my place of employment.
Commuting to work will always be more of a hassle than driving or using transit. Walking out your door in street clothes and arriving at work ready to go is simpler and faster than changing clothes, locking up your bike and covering the seat, walking back and forth from your work area to where you change, doing extra laundry and managing your clothing in variable weather. Yes, you can minimize this by getting your systems down pat, or if your work facilities include a locker room and shower. It’s also easier if you can work and cycle in the same clothes. But it is worth it to me, for the health benefits, money saved and the clearer conscience on reducing my footprint on the earth.