August 9, 2012

Two-wheeled Work Vehicle

By Andrew at 11:59 AM

I have decided that it is not worthwhile to ride my bicycle to work. Now, for those of you who were not aware, I recently purchased a bike since I live less than four miles from where I work, with bike lanes covering most of that route. But after initially investing in the bike, the helmet, and so on, I have decided that it is just not practical at the moment. Why not? I am glad you asked! This post is not about “going green” or anything of that nature. That is an entirely separate discussion. What I did consider, however, when I approached this matter falls more along the lines of convenience and perception. I will start off with convenience.
My main goal for riding my bike to work was to save on gas expenses. Granted, driving eight miles each day would only cost me, on average, $2 per day, not counting maintenance and insurance. Yet I have decided that the cost is outweighed by the convenience factor. In reality, it does not take me much longer to bike to work than to drive to work, although I do need to wake up fifteen minutes earlier to prepare my bike, check tire pressure, and so on. That was a pleasant surprise, but the bigger issue came in the form of riding at night. Since I work the night shift, I travel to work in the dark. That did not actually bother me, since there is very little traffic at 1am in the morning. Really, the trip home was what bothered me more with all the daytime traffic. In fact, it made me rather uncomfortable, sharing the road with so many vehicles. So daytime traffic is strike number one.
There were several people, well meaning, to be sure, that were concerned about me riding at night. In fact, one day shortly after my work schedule had changed, I received a phone call wondering if I had ended up in a ditch or something, since they did not know if I worked that day or not. Fortunately I was at home for my day off, but it was a cause of concern. I do not like to worry people, so that is a factor in my deciding against biking to work.
The third factor is that riding to work is a real workout. You would think exercise would be a great thing, right? Well, it is, except for the fact that when I arrive at work for the day I am sweaty and not particularly prepared for a day at work. This is especially applicable as I am still attempting to get to know people, since first impressions seldom wait for the best conditions. Therefore general hygienic and olfactory issues were another major issue of concern.
Finally, and this reason is a bit more difficult to describe, riding a bike to work does not have the most professional aura. If I wish to pursue a career leading toward production management, biking to work is not the most austere method of transportation. Going back to hygiene and appearance, I would not, in the future, ride my bike to work wearing a suit and tie. Likewise, as I am preparing in my career to present a professional “front,” I need to pay attention to how bad my “helmet hair” is when I get to work.
Because of these concerns, I have decided that the difficulties currently outweigh the benefits. Were my shift to change eventually, I would be able to shower at the gym at work once I arrived, but I would still have the issues of traffic and such. As the situation merits, I definitely plan to continue to ride my bike around town on errands, and possibly beyond by taking my bike with me on the train. Also, sometime in the distant future, I would love to buy an electric or hybrid car to further reduce gas costs, especially since I spend much of my “driving” time merely idling the engine at stoplights. But until something changes significantly, I plan to continue to drive to work and ride my bike elsewhere as the opportunity presents itself.

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