Update: At this point in my schooling I go from school to work. The campus I go to is about 30 minutes away via car so I don't get a chance to ride my bike to work like I used to. I'm sure a lot of you have similar circumstances, but if you can ride your bike to work do it! It's well worth it.
For most people, riding a bike to work is something that doesn't even cross their minds. Then there are those that are so adamant about self powered and/or public transportation, that the thought of being a "Cager", makes them sick to there stomach ("cager" slang term used for four wheeled motor vehicle drivers.) There are good points on both sides of the argument as to whether you should ride or drive to work. I will explain what it's like to ride your bike to work and whether or not it would make sense in your situation. Will riding a bike to work make sense in your situation? Continue reading to find out.
Reasons why riding a bike to work sucks
Commuting to work on a bike is far from glamorous. For those who are eager to get out there and start peddling, the first ride will be a complete shock. Here are some reasons why riding to work can suck.
Time: Riding to work usually takes a lot more time than if you drive. For me personally it takes about 20 minutes longer each way. Interestingly enough, by car my route is 10 miles long, while my route by bike is only 6 miles long. Depending on where you live and the routes available, the difference in time may vary.
Effort: Let's be honest, the last thing you want to do is have to wake up early only to put in a lot of effort just to get to work. Driving to work takes little to no effort. It can be mentally challenging to get yourself to want to expend the extra energy it takes to ride to work.
Sweat: This is probably the biggest downside to riding to work. Nobody wants to show up to work smelling like an armpit. What this also means is you will most likely have to bring a change of clothes and whatever toiletries necessary to smell and look presentable. This all depends on the distance and conditions of your ride though.
Reasons why you should ride a bike to work
For every reason why riding a bike to work would suck there is an equal reason for why it is awesome.
Savings: The amount of money you save on gas may surprise you. I setup a calculator that will generate just how much money you will be saving. I save around $215 a year just by riding my bike. Depending on the various factors you may save a lot more than I do.
Total Savings =
Workout: For those like me that don't have a lot of time or just generally don't workout a lot, it's a good way to get a workout in. I like to think of it as an added benefit. It's not a replacement for an actual workout routine, but it will help take care of cardio.
Energy Levels: I have found that I usually have more energy throughout the day when I ride my bike to work. It may seem crazy, but it's true. With more energy throughout the day I find that i'm more productive than I would have otherwise been.
Fun: It's just plan fun. Think about when you drive to work. For most of us it's no more than just muscle memory. We are so used to the trip that there is no enjoyment. We just zone out and arrive at work. When riding a bike, on the other hand, you have to stay alert at all times and be aware of your surroundings. The same routes are always changing, whether it be a branch near the side of the road, a new pothole, wildlife, or even less desirable - fresh roadkill (This is way less pleasant than in a car, but is sure to wake you up). The list of things that you could encounter is endless and something you just don't notice when driving a car. You get a sense of adventure as well.
Bicycle commuting is not for everybody. There are too many factors involved to be able to suggest that everybody should ride a bike to work. I can promise that it comes with just as many benefits as drawbacks. Seeing as how you made it to this article I can assume you at least have some interest in riding to work. To that I would say give it a try. At the very least you can try it and decide you won't be doing it again. If you decide to give commuting to work a try I would recommend going to this article that gives tips for your first commute.
The first couple of rides into work may be intimidating. Just stick with and it you will be a pro at it in no time. The bottom line is that you have to go out and decide for yourself if riding to work is something you would want to do.