Common Barriers to Bike Commuting

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    With summer in full swing, the visibility of bike commuters has increased dramatically as many take advantage of ideal cycling conditions. The question remains: why are so many people still reluctant to bike to work? I took to brainstorming a few answers to this question, in the hopes of directly addressing the very real and widespread concerns that people have about bike commuting.

    A possible multi-modal commuting option; combining car and bike. (Photo Credit: Amanda Napoli)

    Problem: I work too far from home to bike

    Solution: Take a simple multi-modal approach. If you live near any kind of transit hub such as a commuter train station, subway station, LRT or even a simple bus stop, make use of it. Bike to a station and take transit the rest of the way. Bike halfway, walk halfway. Find a safe place to lock your bike near a bus stop or major route. There are endless combinations here, the trick is to find a method that works for you and takes advantage of existing transit infrastructure in your neighbourhood and city. I personally prefer to bike five minutes to a bus stop on a major road and take transit the rest of the way to get downtown. Find what you like.

    Problem: I don’t think I’m fit enough to bike

    Solution: You really don’t have to be an athlete in order to bike. Work your way up and start small. Take short trips around the corner to your local coffee shop or grocery store in order to build up your endurance. Also, don’t assume you have to be constantly biking at full speed and sweating buckets every second you’re on your bike; take it as slow and casual as you want. This applies even to people who consider themselves more fit and experienced.

    Problem: I don’t think I’ll be able to carry all of my stuff

    Solution: There are many bag and basket attachments on the market that are large enough whilst also looking great too. Get creative and combine different kinds of storage options to find what works for you. Also, keep in mind that if you still can’t seem to carry everything you need to work, you’re realistically probably just bringing too much stuff!

    Problem: It’s too cold/the weather is bad

    Solution: Layers are your best friend. Take some extra time in cold weather to really beef up your clothing gear and accessorize your bike accordingly. Grab some studded tires and proper eyewear to protect yourself from the elements. Of course, biking in the winter requires you to suck it up sometimes, but no one’s saying you have to bike everyday in immense snowstorms; bike when you can and be realistic about actual weather restraints and safety. Generally speaking, biking to work in the winter is probably still faster in many areas than driving, specifically downtown.

    English: This is a photograph of my own Trek L...

    Trek L-300s bicycle customized for winter commuter riding. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Problem: Bike infrastructure is not well-developed or supported in my neighbourhood

    Solution: Realistically, there are no short-term or quick-fix answers to this. Having said that, change happens when there is a catalyst involved, so why not be that catalyst? Email/tweet your local council with specific issues that you have pertaining to bike lanes or bike sharing options. Be informed and aware of public meetings and attend them. Voice your opinion and be consistent. Pressure and demand will eventually force some kind of change, even if it appears to be small at first.

    Problem: I don’t already have a bike I can use/it’s too expensive

    Solution: With the continual rise of bike culture, it has become very easy to buy a decently priced bike these days, whether it’s from your local bike shop or online. Expensive is a relative term when compared to gas prices, so when you’re considering how much cash to shell out for a bike, just keep that in mind.

    What are some other barriers? Feel free to comment and discuss issues not mentioned here.