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May
21

Bike to Work: Point Counterpoint!

By · May 21, 2010 at 11:47 am

It’s Bike to Work Day. That may mean nothing to you, or, for the teeny tiny minority of central Indiana residents who ride their bike to work, that may mean a small sense of validation for a lifestyle decision for which we are marginalized and ridiculed by the SUV-driving cycnical masses.

CityBeat reporter Mary Milz and WTHR.com web content manager Sara Galer put together a “point counterpoint” list of reasons why we bike to work. Or not, as the case may be.

Here’s Mary:

Why I don’t bike to work.

I work out regularly. I run, swim and during the summer months, I bike, but I don’t bike to work. I feel mildly guilty about that but I have a litany of excuses that I rattle off to my colleague Sara Galer, who rides religiously. Here are my reasons why I DON’T bike to work.

1) I have to go to bed and wake up early to accommodate the extra 25 minutes it would take to get to work. I treasure my zzzzzz’s

2) I can’t fit everything I need for the day in a backpack – make-up, hair dryer, shoes, clothes, towel, toiletries, etc (that’s not to mention getting a suit to work without crumpling it up in a ball of wrinkles.)

3) That means pre-planning – bringing everything to work a day or two before. Heck, I can’t even get my lunch packed the night before!

4) The shower thing – we have one at work, which is great but it’s like a shower you’d find on a small sailboat… Plus I’d have to wait in line for Sara and other colleagues who occassionally ride in.

5) I carry extra gear in my car – hats, gloves, boots, jeans, etc. Just in case I’m sent to cover, say flooding.

6) What if I need to meet someone for lunch – no wheels. Do I show up in biking clothes?

7) I like the Monon but riding downtown can get a little crazy, especially at rush hour.

8) What if the weather changes? It’s fine on the way in, but what if it starts to pour or storm when I’m ready to leave?

9) And, what if my plans change? I suddenly need to be somewhere after work? What if it’s across town? What if it’s after dark? You’re not supposed to ride the Monon after dusk (and before dawn.)

10) I’m sometimes tired after a long day and still have to get home and get a run or swim in – which brings me back to zzzzzzzz’s.

I admire you Sara – you are my hero, but I just don’t think I have the pedal power in me to ride to work on a regular basis.

My reply:

Okay, let’s just get a few things straight here. I don’t do anything religiously, unless it involves eating┬ásome sort of decadent chocolate dessert. However when the weather permits, I do enjoy riding my bike to work as often as possible. I would also like to differentiate my bike riding habits from my husband’s, which verge on the fanatical. He rides in the winter, sometimes in snow, occasionally on ice, which results in elbow injuries that take a long time to heal, and relies on me to drive the car so I can pick him up if the weather is really bad. So I might be crazy, but not THAT crazy.

1) It takes me about 15-20 minutes to drive, or about 40 minutes to cycle. If the wind is with me, it can be as short as 30 minutes. Sometimes it takes longer if I have to stand on the pedals! Although it does probably add a good 40 minutes to my commute, I don’t mind the prep time because being outside and getting exercise at both ends of my day makes it worth it.

2) Since I’m behind the scenes here at WTHR, I don’t have to make myself beautiful like the reporters do. I carry a set of clean clothes, shoes and a towel. My office casual look usually survives the bike ride. Unless I forget to bring pants.

3) I usually pack my bike bag the night before and then make a game-day decision after checking the weather forecast.

4) It’s true we have a shower room at WTHR. It’s also true that it’s a little scary. I use it for those 90+degree days. Otherwise I just air dry, wash my face, apply deodorant and hope for the best. I also sit a good distance away from my colleagues in the mornings, something they’re probably grateful for.

5) Again, not being a roving reporter, I know that most of my day will be in the office. Which makes my time on the bike all the more appreciated.

6) If I have to meet a friend for lunch, I either hop on my bike or make them pick me up at work!

7) I get off the Monon at 14th, then make my way through the old North Side to WTHR at 10th and Meridian. It’s not too treacherous. Come on, Mary, that’s a feeble excuse!

8) I won’t disagree with you here. I’ve occasionally asked colleagues for a ride home due to unpredictable weather. Rain is unpleasant, but thunderstorms are scary. We report the news. We don’t want to BE the news. Like that guy in Goshen who went outside to roll up the windows on his truck, then was struck by lightning. Now he can’t even count to ten.

9) It’s true that taking your bike to work limits what you can do with regards to making plans later in the evening. Fortunately, there are many bars and restaurants not far from the Monon that are within reach, if you are desperate for that post-work beer. It also takes planning to make sure you are not cycling in the dark.

10) If I refrained from exercise every time I felt tired, I would probably never get off the couch! I like the challenge of biking to work. Some days are a good workout, other days I’m just slodging through and cursing the wind, dodging stray dogs and chain-wielding teenagers (it’s a bit like Grand Theft Auto in that respect). But I get to observe things I would never see in a car (a red-winged blackbird on a fence, Lilly volunteers painting a mural on community day, KIBI folks watering the little trees along the side of the Monon), and it’s a fantastic stress reducer. And once I’m home, I’ve already put in about 14 miles for the day!

What Mary didn’t say is that she runs marathons and triathlons….something that I would never have the self-discipline for! So Mary, I think you’re the real athlete. I’m just a wanna-be! (I should also mention that I supplement the bike riding with Crossfit, a GREAT way to get in shape!)

Categories : From the Web Desk

2 Comments

1

Sara – you should have told Mary she could eat more than one brownie if she biked to work – that would be motivation enough for me!

2

Riding to work does take a bit of a commitment and planning and it is very easy to find excuses not to do it. New commuters might try just one day a week – once they learn how easy it is, well, we just might make a regular bicycle commuter out of them. People often bring personal items, change of clothes, etc. on the day they drive (before their commute) which doesn’t require carrying anything on the bike for the commuter.
Kudos to Sara for riding to work so often and also riding to meet-up with friends at lunch. If we just look at the bicycle as a means of transportation, it just makes sense that we can easily get from here to there, and get a bit of exercise and fresh air while doing so.

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