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Why don't more people ride bikes for commuting?

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Why don't more people ride bikes for commuting?

Old 09-11-22, 07:45 AM
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xroadcharlie
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Why don't more people ride bikes for commuting?

When I worked at a large factory I see a few people walking to work sometimes for 30 minutes. They don't have to spend $500+ on a new bike, I see some bikes on Kijiji around here for $50 - $100 people just want to get rid if. Why not give it a try. Cut a 30 minute commute to perhaps 10.

My friend had a boat at a local marina. A large piece of property to walk, So he found a lady's bike in the garbage that needed a tube, a chain cleaning and lube and some minor adjustments That made getting around SO much easier. A cheap easy way to make getting around a lot easier without worrying about someone stealing an expensive bike.

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Old 09-11-22, 09:09 AM
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Because everyone has a big “but”.
Simone: I know you're right, Pee-wee, but...

Pee-wee: But what? Everyone I know has a big "But...? C'mon, Simone, let's talk about *your* big "But".
I worked at a laboratory that was involved in getting us off fossil fuels for 40 years. It was as crunchy a granola, tree hugging, Mother Earth loving place as you’ll ever find but I was about the only employee (out of from 400 at the beginning of my career to over 3000 at the end of my career) who rode to work consistently. Dozens (but only dozens) of people would ride to work on Bike-to-Work Day but almost zero would ride any other day of the year. I hate Bike-to-Work Day for that reason. It’s a failed experiment.
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Old 09-11-22, 09:42 AM
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I would ride to work if, I could use the back roads, have access to bike lanes, and had a suitable place to secure and keep out of the elements.
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Old 09-11-22, 10:02 AM
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Lack of a shower at work combined with the need to wear nice clothes. Now I can can dress as I like and take a sponge bath in the vault and do, but that hasn't always been the case for me
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Old 09-11-22, 12:40 PM
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All the above:
- Place to securely lock a bike. The burden is on the employer for this and most dont want to spend money on this.
- Showers and places to change, locker room to store nice work clothes, same reason as above
- Takes time. You dont get as much sleep unless you are able to get to bed earlier, plus you get home later, can be problematic if you have kids, etc....
- Sometimes crappy cycling infrastructure. NYC is very proactive and has been, at improving this as they recognize the need to get people out of cars. It'll be curious if the new congestion pricing plan will send more folks to bikes
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Old 09-11-22, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
All the above:
- Place to securely lock a bike. The burden is on the employer for this and most dont want to spend money on this.
- Showers and places to change, locker room to store nice work clothes, same reason as above
- Takes time. You dont get as much sleep unless you are able to get to bed earlier, plus you get home later, can be problematic if you have kids, etc....
- Sometimes crappy cycling infrastructure. NYC is very proactive and has been, at improving this as they recognize the need to get people out of cars. It'll be curious if the new congestion pricing plan will send more folks to bikes
Just to be clear, even when all those amenities are readily available and the place of business has an overall environmental vibe, it is an extreme uphill battle to get even a small fraction of the number of employees to ride a bike to work. We had a secure place to lock bikes in a badge access controlled campus and badge access controlled building. We had locker rooms with excellent shower and storage facilities. The facility was fed by roads that were highly bikeable. Our weather is very amenable to riding most of the year. And still people wouldn’t ride. Lots of people are very interested but that big “But…” raises it’s ugly head.

By the way, kids aren’t much of an excuse either. I helped raise two of them and still managed to ride about 1/2 of all work days since 1988 ( I only had records back to 1988). And there are lots of people who don’t have kids but they still find a place for that big “But…”

Finally, I could (and did) go on and on about the benefits of riding a bike to work to my co-workers. Health benefits, saving tons of money on gas as well as wear and tear on vehicles, esoteric moments while riding in the morning. I even offered to help them plan routes and ride in with them. Still that big “But…” was raised constantly. After about 25 or 30 years, I just gave up.
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Old 09-11-22, 01:32 PM
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The perception is "its too hard". Its not and I found it fun. Ive a buddy who's a lawyer upstate NY. He owns the office building which has a shower, He's also a weekend and occasional weekday cyclist, has a 12 mile one way commute. I have expounded on the fun of bike commuting any number of times to him, his situation is pretty much a no brainer, yet he wont do it. Its really a case of just jump starting it and once he does it a few times, he'll get hooked. Its just getting him going is the hard part.
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Old 09-11-22, 01:54 PM
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I rode 25 miles into the office a couple times per week for many years. Then carpooled home, with me driving us in the next day.
It takes a lot of sacrifices and effort, naturally, to stick to the routine, especially when management and coworkers do not encourage it.
People might admire me for a minute, when I would boast about keeping 35,000 miles off my cars and doing my ecological part.
But mostly they considered me a bit crazy and odd. That never bothered me, but it would've been great to see others follow my example.
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Old 09-11-22, 02:19 PM
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In my opinion it is inertia and familiarity.. you use your "standard" transportation mode. The default transportation mode in all but a few core urban centers in the United States is a motor vehicle. Once a motor vehicle is secured and available, it will be used for any transportation purpose that doesn't involve an obvious excessive marginal cost or delay.

It works both ways. My default transportation is the bicycle, and for me, driving the motor vehicle is a hassle.
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Old 09-11-22, 03:08 PM
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Why don't more people ride bikes for commuting.
In most spots in the U.S., for example, I suspect the reason is that towns (and particularly cities) tend to not be designed around walking and cycling; instead, they're absolutely car-centric layouts. Can take a good long while to get from point A to B, if attempting to go via some other method than a vehicle. I suspect that's a major reason, for many people.

As well, cycling (and walking) isn't an all-weather mode. A good percentage of people simply won't want to do what it takes to be warm and dry through all weather conditions. Going by car is too simple, by comparison, particularly when it's ugly outside.

And, I'm sure many simply live far enough away from work, in terms of the commuting distance involved and/or the routes necessary to get to the destination. Myself, I live in a spot where most of the routes away from downtown can be nasty in terms of safety, particularly at "rush-hour" times of the day. Which will certainly kill the idea for many people.

Over the decades, I've only met a handful of people that habitually commuted via bicycle. One colleague of mine did a ~55mi round-trip jaunt, often daily for weeks at a time. He had the right clothing, was strong and quick on a bike, and had a couple of key safe routes to travel for his trip. Me, coming from the other direction, I had only part of the route safe enough to travel without much worry; the rest of it was dangerous in the extreme, simply because of the layout of the roadways between my home and the company's facility. I'd do it, occasionally, but only using the light-rail (train) for part of the distance in order to eliminate the nastier unsafe sections of the route.

Would love to live in a place that was designed from get-go as a walking and cycling type of place, with roads following a well-planned but spartan network of vehicle routes that'd get close to shops and businesses but not right to the doorstep, then to have a people-mover type system of light rail cars that takes people into the business districts and shopping areas. Can't imagine the amount of work to retrofit existing towns (let alone cities). In the U.S., at least, there aren't many cities that are old enough to have roads and routes that pre-date motor vehicles, and most of those have long since been re-made to be car-centric in the extreme.

Wish there were an easier way.
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Old 09-11-22, 03:11 PM
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I've just passed the 20-year mark commuting to work year-'round in Chicago. My commute would be 50 miles each way if I rode all the way, and I've done this a couple times just to be able to say I did it. This is usually on Bike-to-Work Day, and I agree with Stuart that it's pretty much a failed experiment. Everyone talks about how many people ride in the city, but my observations tell me that it's only a small percentage of potential riders who actually use bikes. Perhaps I'm riding in the wrong areas; there certainly has not been much of an increase in "multi-modal" commuting.
Normally, I ride a folding bike to the local heavy rail commuter train line, then get off and ride the bike the last few miles. My total mileage is about 7-8 miles a day; not a lot, but it serves as my "base" miles for getting in shape for longer rides.
My workplace does not provide showers, so the short distance works well... I'm an endodontist and spend a fair amount of time in (very) close proximity to my victims patients, so I don't get too fragrant.
I figure I have about 25,000 miles of street riding experience after all these years, and this has helped me stay in reasonably good shape for my age (72).
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Old 09-11-22, 06:42 PM
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For 14 years I drove to work that was only 4.5km away. Then I found a safe way to avoid crossing a major highway that was along the way. So for the last three years of work before retiring, I rode my bike year-round, even in the winter.
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Old 09-11-22, 07:12 PM
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When I look back to when I was working at a restaurant in high school, I remember wishing I had a car. But truth be told, even after a 5 - 6 hour shift after school, most nights I found the short 5 mile ride home rather relaxing, even enjoyable.

But as noted in many posts, Commuting by bike may not be the best choice for many folks. I'm thinking of the people who don't have an excuse and won't even bother to give biking a chance.
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Old 09-11-22, 08:16 PM
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Because it is far easier to drive a vehicle to work.
If you live in the suburbs you likely have a long commute by vehicle and a bike won't cut it...not even an ebike.
I worked 12 hour swing shifts...not riding a bike...retired now and seldom drive but ride every day.
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Old 09-11-22, 08:39 PM
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we are at approximately 10% commute-by-bike, which is pretty high for the united states. about 55% take transit, about 15% walk, about 20% drive. ±250 people. our new york office has much lower drive share, higher public transit and walking share, lower biking.

very few people use the showers, but the bike room is starting to fill back up post-covid.

the primary reason more people don't do it is simply distance. american zoning, urban planning, transportation policy, tax policy, and a million other things discourage high density, walkable/bikable regions.
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Old 09-11-22, 10:15 PM
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My guess at the title question is that in general people assume that other drivers are just as bad as they are. In other words, they fear themselves (or other drivers like themselves).

Interestingly, the body question more about why pedestrians don't ride. My guess there would be that they choose to walk for simplicity. I say more power to them on that front!
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Old 09-11-22, 11:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Clyde1820 View Post
In most spots in the U.S., for example, I suspect the reason is that towns (and particularly cities) tend to not be designed around walking and cycling; instead, they're absolutely car-centric layouts. Can take a good long while to get from point A to B, if attempting to go via some other method than a vehicle. I suspect that's a major reason, for many people.
Honestly, I think your conclusion is incorrect…at least for inner cities. True cars have been grafted into the inner cities but the cities themselves were not designed with cars in mind. Most inner cities are decades (to centuries) older than the automobile. My city, Denver, was established in 1859 and the “suburb” I live in was built in 1910 and is roughly 5 miles from downtown. Cars were around…the Model T was introduced in 1908…but probably not in great numbers. By the time cars were widely available, Denver was roughly 15 to 20 miles in diameter and many of those old streets weren’t…and aren’t…really all the suitable for cars.

Please don’t take this the wrong way, but we cyclists can be our own worst enemy. This whole “people have good reason to fear traffic” thing plays into everyone’s “Big but…” fears about riding a bicycle to work. One of the biggest problems I found is that people look at the world with “car eyes”. They say “I can’t ride to work because there’s too much traffic” but they don’t realize that many cities are set up on a grid pattern so there is a nice, quiet road a block or two away from that high traffic road. In cul de sac hell, there are often breaks between the endless dead end roads that allow a bicycle to pass where a car can’t. Motorist don’t know about these pathways because they look on the world only as a motorist. Motorist who want to be cyclists see the world the same way.
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Old 09-11-22, 11:07 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Honestly, I think your conclusion is incorrect…at least for inner cities. True cars have been grafted into the inner cities but the cities themselves were not designed with cars in mind. Most inner cities are decades (to centuries) older than the automobile. My city, Denver, was established in 1859 and the “suburb” I live in was built in 1910 and is roughly 5 miles from downtown. Cars were around…the Model T was introduced in 1908…but probably not in great numbers. By the time cars were widely available, Denver was roughly 15 to 20 miles in diameter and many of those old streets weren’t…and aren’t…really all the suitable for cars.

Please don’t take this the wrong way, but we cyclists can be our own worst enemy. This whole “people have good reason to fear traffic” thing plays into everyone’s “Big but…” fears about riding a bicycle to work. One of the biggest problems I found is that people look at the world with “car eyes”. They say “I can’t ride to work because there’s too much traffic” but they don’t realize that many cities are set up on a grid pattern so there is a nice, quiet road a block or two away from that high traffic road. In cul de sac hell, there are often breaks between the endless dead end roads that allow a bicycle to pass where a car can’t. Motorist don’t know about these pathways because they look on the world only as a motorist. Motorist who want to be cyclists see the world the same way.
a relatively small percentage of the US population lives in city cores, and an even smaller percentage lives AND works in them. most of where americans live is planned and built since the automobile.
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Old 09-12-22, 12:06 AM
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Originally Posted by mschwett View Post
a relatively small percentage of the US population lives in city cores, and an even smaller percentage lives AND works in them. most of where americans live is planned and built since the automobile.
Not necessarily. The largest population centers…New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, etc…have had cars grafted into them rather than being built for cars. New York City and Boston, in particular, are constrained by their geography and don’t have the suburbs that some other places have. All of those examples have high numbers of people who work in the city core.
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Old 09-12-22, 06:38 AM
  #20  
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I don't care much about how other people get to work. Sure, more cyclists mean more political pull for more bike infrastructure, and it would lessen the impact on the environment (but to what degree and to what effect is debatable). However riding to work on crowded bike infrastructure would be just as frustrating as driving on crowded motor vehicle infrastructure. And crawling along in stop-and-go urban cycling gridlock would not provide much in the way of a cardio workout.

You know how the MUPS get stupid-crowded on warm-weather weekends...imagine dealing with that on the way to work every day.

And then there's all the logistical issues mentioned elsewhere above (bike, parking, changing, etc.).

One more point...a brisk 30-minute walk to work and back home is healthier than a 10-minute bike ride.

I understand the joy, pleasure and satisfaction of commuting year-round, and the desire to share that with others, and the desire to protect the environment while making a city or town less crowded by vehicles, but I am now entering the old-crumudgeon phase of life and I really don't care what others do or think of me.

Just don't rob me of my beautiful bike commute.
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Old 09-12-22, 07:48 AM
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My block this year has been my oldest kid going to a program one burb over. In the spring and summer it had been about during school hours, which meant it overlapped with morning commute time. When school started he went to a special classroom at a far school and was taking the bus. I had about a month free from it and put it a lot of commuting days. For my brief glorious window it had been a 7 mile round trip ride and half a mile to the grade school. But he just started again and I'm skunked. I need to put in about 45 miles picking up kid 1 from his far school, picking up twins at local school, dropping off kid 1 at program, going home to WFH for about a minute, picking up kid 1 again. Maybe more like 54 miles if I can't get the schedule changed a little to remove a loop. I think I will have one day a week I can ride.

Why is kid 1 going back to the program? Well...

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Old 09-12-22, 08:03 AM
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I don't know why so few of the people I discuss commuting by bike even give it a moment's consideration. I doubt most of the unfortunates whose ears I bend have any idea either. It's just not the way things are done, so it's written off as an option before it's given serious thought.
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Old 09-12-22, 08:11 AM
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Because they think they are "too important" to ride a bicycle.
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Old 09-12-22, 09:03 AM
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Perhaps part of the reason those that can safely commute, Whether it's to work, to visit a friend, or whatever is because the thought of biking there is out of our comfort zone. I find as I get older the harder it is to do that. Since I have biked intermittently since I was a kid, I have never given it a second thought.
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Old 09-12-22, 09:34 AM
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Hair.

That was one of the biggest excuses I heard... "it takes me time to get my hair done right... a helmet would just muss it up."

For guys the excuse was "I gotta wear a suit."
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