I’ve been commuting around Athens, GA via bike for 3 years now.
It all started with biking the .75 miles to work and back, and has slowly expanded to biking pretty much everywhere within a 6 mile radius.
Here’s several reasons why I’ve kept it up – despite the Georgia heat, the Athens hills, and general vulnerability of cycling.
Repairs Are Absurdly Cheap
If bike mechanics ever found out about the Anchoring Cognitive Bias… they could make some serious money.
A couple weeks ago I had to get a wheel alignment and brake work done on the car – $300, and that was with the discount and everything else.
Today, the rear wheel of the bike was wobbling so I took it to the bike shop to get it worked on – with the car repair figure still in the back of my head – but it turned out differently with a bike.
Here’s the conversation…
Bike Repair Guy – “Oh wow, your spokes are completely shot”
Me – “So, is that easy to fix?”
Bike Repair Guy – “Yeah, we’d have to replace the entire wheel – it’s a pretty major deal”
Me – “So… [anticipating something awful] how much will it cost?”
Bike Repair Guy – “Well, [nervously] it’s going to be $60 for the wheel and [nervous pause] … $5 for labor to reattach everything”
Now – relative to the total cost of the road bike, I guess that is major. But still… $65?
However, considering that will raise my annual per mile operating cost of the bike from $.04 to $.08 (for comparison – just the gas for a sedan costs $.13/mile) it’s still a really good deal.
And considering my pricing anchor was still at $300… $65 was a nice relief psychologically (if not rationally).
Considering that biking everywhere made one car useless and therefore saleable – biking saves major money.
Multitasking That Works
Unlike a treadmill – you are actually getting somewhere while exercising.
15mph (pretty hardcore) cycling burns approximately 700 calories per hour, and works muscles that you never use otherwise.
So even if getting somewhere takes a few minutes longer – you still save time overall.
< 5 miles = You Still Actually Get Somewhere
Within cities, average car speeds slow down to about 12mph.
The average speed of a biker is 12 mph.
Therefore over distances less than 5 miles, bikes can still keep up (and occasionally beat) cars.
Seriously, I had no idea how far I could get on a bike (especially a road bike), until I actually started doing it.
Plus, bike lanes feel like HOV lanes. There no better schandenfraeude than passing a rush hour traffic jam in a bike lane.
See Stuff And Get Hyper-Awareness
On the flip side, not only will 12 mph get you places, but it’s still slow enough to actually see your surroundings.
Whenever I cycle through areas where I previously only drove – I see all sorts of cool stuff that I would have never notices from the driver seat.
Plus, due to the constant threat of death or paralysis from a texting driver – you are hyper-aware of your surroundings. It’s really quite an amazing feeling – especially in heavy traffic.
Drivers may get stressed with high levels of cortisol, but cyclists get pumped with adrenaline, which is a much better trade if you ask me.
It’s an easy way to get that bit of Holier-Than-Thou feeling whenever the environment comes up in conversation, without actually doing anything super-substantial (sort of like recycling that milk jug…)
Try it with whatever bike you have on hand. Try it only with an occasional short trip. Eventually you’ll fall in love with it – that’s when you get a road bike and do it more and more. Cycling is awesome. And BTW – it’s absolutely worth the risk.