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I Want to Ride My Bicycle

Posted February 29, 2016 7:00 AM by cheme_wordsmithy

The other day I took a turn too sharply, and before I knew it I was over the offending curb with a flat tire. The bill from the mechanic for the new tires and labor were a painful reminder of how expensive it is to depend on a car for daily life.

It made me think again about the idea of commuting to work by bicycle and the economic benefits of such an endeavor. Depending solely on a bicycle for my work travel would drastically reduce the number of miles I put on my car, reducing maintenance and wear. The upkeep for a bicycle (including replacement tires, chains, trips to the shop) would be substantially less than for a car, even for a pricey top-of-the-line road bike. Of course the initial investment would also be much less. Add to that the savings in gas, and I start to wonder why I haven't made switch.

I don't wonder for long though. The reality is, my time also has value, and what I would gain in monetary savings I would lose in time spent prepping and on the road each day. My 9 mile commute one-way, which takes a grand total of 15 minutes by car, would take nearly an hour by bicycle. Add to this the time spent preparing before hand and the transition time on arrival & departure at work, and I've sapped an extra hour and a half to two hours from my day. Not so appealing anymore.

If my commute was shorter, I can imagine making the jump to a bicycle. On top of saving money, it would also provide a consistent source of daily exercise (which as I approach my 30s I'm finding is actually important - I can no longer eat whatever I want and still lose weight). There are 3 or 4 people in my office that commute by bicycle, two of them almost every workday of the year; rain or shine or snow. I admire their commitment and consistency, and I wonder what society would be like with more people on bicycles than cars.

I found it interesting to read that bicycle ownership in the world is actually declining. A prime example is China, where in 1992 97 percent of the population owned a bicycle - in 2009 it had dropped to 63 percent. This trend is decreasing with an increase in the popularity and affordability of motorized transport, including cars and scooters. This phenomenon could be a sign of positive technological and economic development around the globe, allowing people to get places faster and save time. But the decrease in bicycle use also means more crowded roads, more vehicle emissions, and (possibly) a less healthy/active population.

A cost-benefit analysis done in Copenhagen, Denmark (where 4/5s of households own a bike) found that bicycles were six times less expensive than cars for society as a whole. This factors in such costs as infrastructure and the consequences of increased traffic and emissions. This study certainly would ring true in parts of the United States, where infrastructure costs and rising car numbers are very real challenges for today and tomorrow. Part of the answer could be making city roads safer and more amenable to cyclists; maybe then we'd have more people choosing bicycles over cars. And then I ask myself again: if I lived closer to work, would I choose to ride instead of drive?

Probably yes... But for now I'll just listen to the Queen song.

References:

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#1

Re: I Want to Ride My Bicycle

02/29/2016 8:56 AM

I enjoy biking, Putting cost savings aside, the exercise and enjoyment aside, you have to pay attention when driving on the road.

Remember, not only do cars and trucks share the road with bikes, the bikes also share the road with the cars and trucks... Whether You have the right-a-way or not, either way you have to pay attention and follow the laws and never challenge a vehicle even when you do have the right-way or your epoteph will read, "this may have been the final result, but I did have the right-a-way"

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#3
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Re: I Want to Ride My Bicycle

02/29/2016 10:40 AM
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#10
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Re: I Want to Ride My Bicycle

03/01/2016 6:27 AM

As I always joke: The car (or truck) always has the right of way by law. The laws of physics. It makes no difference what the legislated law is. You, on a bike, versus a vehicle: you lose. Just like riding a motorcycle, YOU have to watch for the other guy at all times.

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#12
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Re: I Want to Ride My Bicycle

03/01/2016 7:31 AM

You watch out for the other guy at all times...

I tried to practice this at all time no matter what vehicle I'm driving.

Had some close calls on both sides of the situation and when the situation arises, blowing the horn to let the other guy know your going to hit him isn't on the top of the list. The top on my list is avoidance.... And if time permits,, then and only then do I use the horn.

The other side of the situation, I was fortunate the other driver acted the same way.

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#19
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Re: I Want to Ride My Bicycle

03/01/2016 10:03 AM

Well, in Maritime Law, the larger (and less maneuverable) vessel always has the right of way, based on simple physics: It is easier for a Jet Ski to get out of the was of the QE2 than it is for the QE2 to maneuver around a Jet Ski.

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#25
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Re: I Want to Ride My Bicycle

03/03/2016 10:46 AM

Unfortunately, around here, sharing the road to some cyclists means riding in the middle rather than along the side so cars can safely pass. This is unsafe for both the cyclists and drivers.

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#26
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Re: I Want to Ride My Bicycle

03/03/2016 12:04 PM

there's problems with riding on the side.... and that is the right hand turns (We drive on the right side of the road) for the cars.

It amounts to switching lanes, but the lane is a bake line and more like cross the bike lane. It can be quite risky.... either way, in the middle or on the side....

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#27
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Re: I Want to Ride My Bicycle

03/03/2016 12:22 PM

I tend to prefer staying to the side streets as much as possible WHEN I ride in town, which is rarely. I prefer the trails we have here. I especially like the 400 trail out of Elroy. Military ridge is not bad either, mostly level.

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#2

Re: I Want to Ride My Bicycle

02/29/2016 10:35 AM

I would think it would depend on the weather and whether there are bike friendly roads on the way to work. You might consider an electric bike to shorten the commute and still get some exercise and fresh air.

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#8
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Re: I Want to Ride My Bicycle

03/01/2016 2:25 AM

Good post, exactly what I was going to say!!

There are some really fast e-bikes around, mine is license free, but limited to 25KMH (around 16MPH I believe without checking!), some others can go up to 50KMH, which is over 30MPH.......

You always have the wind in your back, but still need to pedal..... at least here.....

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#4

Re: I Want to Ride My Bicycle

02/29/2016 12:44 PM

I live five miles from my work. I could easily ride that except for the danger. At least half of that trip, there is no shoulder to ride on. Fifteen years ago, I tried it for a week. About the scariest thing I have ever done and that includes convoys in Afghanistan, jumping out of C-130's and C-141's, dangling from a rope up in a tree and cutting branches with a chain saw, motorcycle racing, downhill skiing double-black diamonds, etc.

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#5

Re: I Want to Ride My Bicycle

02/29/2016 2:54 PM

9 miles would be an easy choice for me, albeit my commute is 50 miles and although I've debated the 3 hour ride into work I just haven't made that sort of commitment. Also, with or without an electrical assisted pedal bike I'm sure you could trim down that commute time and escape the pain and smell of the gym. Maybe if you calculated time spent on cardio work outs into you daily routine the answer might sound more appealing?

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#6

Re: I Want to Ride My Bicycle

02/29/2016 5:00 PM
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#7

Re: I Want to Ride My Bicycle

03/01/2016 2:05 AM

Don't take the unnecessary risk. My mouth hangs open at the terrible drivers on the road, and the situation just seems to get worse.

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#11
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Re: I Want to Ride My Bicycle

03/01/2016 7:29 AM

True, and there are equally amount of bike enthusiast that push their luck by snaking through traffic. When you're in the road, you follow the law no matter the inconvenience it may cause you.

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#13
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Re: I Want to Ride My Bicycle

03/01/2016 9:09 AM

That is simple common sense and very correct what you say.....

But, even bikers that do not "snake" through the traffic, follow other vehicles generally far too close.....

"I'm a Biker, my skin is like medieval armour!"

"I'm a Biker, I can stop quicker, and accelerate faster!"

"I'm a Biker, I feel no pain, because I'm far too often dead in even a small shunt!"

To my mind, the good days of biking are well past Today too much traffic and too many car and truck drivers who never rode a motorbike and have no idea of how they react!!!

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#14
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Re: I Want to Ride My Bicycle

03/01/2016 9:17 AM

I love going out for a bike ride on a weekend.... the down side, even on the less traveled back roads, you still have to have your head on a pivot. Its when you lose focus is what I dread may happen.

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#9

Re: I Want to Ride My Bicycle

03/01/2016 5:49 AM

Tried it in the past here in the UK, not for me, perhaps with electrical assistance and proper segregated cycle paths, but with so many distracted cage aimers playing with their gadgets I bicycle off road only now. That said my daily transport is an 800cc BMW motorcycle, 25-45 minutes to cover 15 miles, in my cage that starts on empty road days at 25 minutes and tops out at over 2 hours on average days... Have you considered a medium capacity motorcycle? 60-90 MPG and the ability to 'filter' carefully through most traffic jams, with the power delivery to accelerate out of danger a bicycle lacks.

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#21
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Re: I Want to Ride My Bicycle

03/01/2016 3:17 PM

In some parts of the world, the family version is a 250 cc.

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#22
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Re: I Want to Ride My Bicycle

03/01/2016 8:05 PM

This just in, eight people injured in a bicycle accident.

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#23
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Re: I Want to Ride My Bicycle

03/01/2016 10:05 PM

When I was in Korea back in the early nineties, my wife and I were driving up towards the DMZ and we surprised to see a family of four on a motorbike. Amazing to get 8 on one.

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#24
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Re: I Want to Ride My Bicycle

03/01/2016 11:03 PM

It's all about norms of where you live. I dated a nurse that just returned from the peace corps. And the story's she told that she'd no longer phased her, was unbelievable to me.

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#15

Re: I Want to Ride My Bicycle

03/01/2016 9:22 AM

Madison Wi. has miles and miles of bike trails, dedicated bike lanes on roads, and a very vocal bike culture and still very few riders bike to work. Why? well who wants to ride for 40 minutes, arrive all sweaty, hot and tired, then have to put in a full day. Even with the availability of showers here at my work we have only one person (out of 300) who regularly commutes via bicycle. Thankfully I don't have to work with him because he still hasn't figured out we have showers and most day he is a bit ripe by the time he gets to work.

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Re: I Want to Ride My Bicycle

03/01/2016 9:39 AM

Thankfully I don't have to work with him because he still hasn't figured out we have showers and most day he is a bit ripe by the time he gets to work.

Where my girlfriend works,.... they had a similar problem.... but she said it has to do with poor hygiene then with the individual being active.

When they hire a co-op student for the summer, this student, gave him body wash and deodorant out of the blue and told him that he'd be happy to answer any questions on how to use it.

I think I'd like that student....

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#16

Re: I Want to Ride My Bicycle

03/01/2016 9:29 AM

Its so unfortunate that the act of slowing down and giving space to the pedaler on the side of a road leads to such haste and debate. Blind corners they speed up, oncoming traffic they speed up, they gave you room they speed up... That is why I bought a mountain bike and hide in the woods... very unfortunate... wish they would convert more rail trails....

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#18
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Re: I Want to Ride My Bicycle

03/01/2016 9:40 AM

I have a hy-bred bike.... I don't have the strength to go totally off-road. but I do love some of the trails they have around Green Bay, WI

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#20

Re: I Want to Ride My Bicycle

03/01/2016 11:12 AM

I'm about 2 miles from my office but the road is 55 MPH with no shoulder right now so I drive. The expanded road project is currently underway and includes a shoulder and a sidewalk. At those speeds I'm planning on biking on the sidewalk which I technically think is illegal but I'm expecting sidewalk traffic to be essentially nobody so unless I get in trouble with some over-zealous law person I should be OK.

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#28

Re: I Want to Ride My Bicycle

03/03/2016 12:44 PM

This is getting a little out of hand there are laws that govern how you can safely pass a cyclist with respect to the state in which you live. Would you die if you had to stop and wait for a safe chance to pass that person whom you are sharing the road with? I like the Montana law..."Montana's law, for example, requires a motorist to "overtake and pass a person riding a bicycle only when the operator of the motor vehicle can do so safely without endangering the person riding the bicycle." ....

Please note legality aside I don't take the chance because these laws are not well enforced in my state

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#29

Re: I Want to Ride My Bicycle

03/03/2016 8:02 PM

I did a rough calculation the extra time spent riding a bicycle compared the expense of driving my gas hog of a van would just about equal out if I was paid minimum wage. Plus I would get much needed exercise and not have to spend time in a gym. And I could never get the cost of buying a more economical car to pencil out.So I drive the van as little as possible and ride my bike as much as possible.

I've always ridden a bike to save money. I've ridden since I was twelve and never stopped. I'm 66 now. I have a whole stable of bicycles. Some that go fast, some that climb mountains, and some that will haul incredible loads.

One day I decided I was going to do all my shopping on a bike. This included several stops, which I usually do by car. I planned my route carefully and picked up my largest items and frozen food at the last stop. It took most the afternoon, but then so did using the car. I didn't miss the time, I saved money, and I got good exercise.

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#30

Re: I Want to Ride My Bicycle

03/03/2016 8:08 PM

I found this bike at an estate sale. I pumped up the tires and it worked. Gave it a little tune-up and a fresh set of tires and rode it 54 miles in a bike rally. It was fun passing all these shiny, modern high-tech bicycles on what looked like a piece of junk. It's also been great for bicycle pub crawls.

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#31
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Re: I Want to Ride My Bicycle

03/03/2016 11:35 PM

Would have been even better if you had put tassles on the ends of the handlebars.

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#32

Re: I Want to Ride My Bicycle

03/05/2016 5:53 PM

I was going to hang a couple of cowbells (modern ones) on the handlebars. I have a real antique cowbell I was going to hang around my neck on the next pubcrawl. It makes a lot of really interesting noise.

My girlfriend bought up a bunch of Chinese bicycle bells when this novelty shop went out of business but I don't think one of them would look quite right. They do look like they belong on my old English Roadster though.

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