What is your age? fifties
What is your occupation? Programmer/research
How many years have you been commuting by bike? Two years
How many times have you participated in the Bicycle Commuter Contest? 3
Describe your current average or usual commute (distance, terrain, urban/rural, etc.) I ride about 5 miles, an urban/rural mix, not too hilly.
What got you started bike commuting? My co-worker got me into it. For years I felt I couldn’t bike, because I was carpooling kids. Once the kids were older, I wanted to bike as a more environmentally friendly commute option, but it was hard to make that leap. However, I was inspired by my co-worker’s example. The commute trip reduction incentives then in place also helped provide a little added motivation.
How have you adapted to make bike commuting work for you? Little by little, as my biking days increased, I have added commuting gear – glasses, mirror, visible rain coat, fenders, light. I use a cobb bucket for easy carrying of lunch, clothes, etc (and easy on/off the bike). When it is cold, I wrap a scarf around head/neck under my helmet and wear inexpensive thick ski gloves, and I am cosy even when it is below freezing.
What are some of the benefits you have experienced from commuting by bike? It has done wonders for my knee, which had been bothering me for years and now feels great (I am much more comfortable hiking now). It works a little exercise into my schedule, so it actually happens without my needing to think about it. And it forces me out of a potential rut—I get some outdoor sensory input, feel the air, hear the birds, and get a sense of the greater world around me before (or after) settling into work at my desk. It also gives me time for my mind to wander, something I think we don’t do enough of these days. I feel independent and good about getting around on my own power, and that I am decreasing at least a little bit my use of energy resources and output of polluting emissions. And sometimes, especially on a beautiful day, it just feels good! I began riding intermittently because I felt that I should—but I kept it up, and rode more often and in more varied conditions, because of all those additional benefits.
What is it that keeps you going, especially when the going is tough (weather, darkness, inertia, etc)? When it’s super nasty or really inconvenient, I don’t ride, but on those in-between days, or times when inertia is making other transport sound good, there are three things that can push me on: I know that my body benefits (don’t want my knee to start bothering me again!), my surroundings benefit (and so, secondarily, do we all), and I think about how, when I first started riding more consistently, my daughter told me she was proud of me.
How do you choose your route (most direct, least traffic, most scenic, etc)? It’s a combination of those.
What style of bike do you ride to commute? I ride my 35-year old road bike. I started commuting on a family hybrid, but I find my old road bike is a lot more fun to ride.
Any words of wisdom for the beginning commuter? Remember that it doesn’t have to be all the time. Whatever you manage is a benefit to you and to the rest of us. Thank you!