The Lesser-Discussed Pitfalls of Bike Commuting

2009 October 6
by Kate O'Neill

Morning Bike Shadow - Image798
Creative Commons License photo credit: roland

Matthew Rochte wrote a great post at the Opportunity Sustainability blog about Red Herrings in Bicycle Commuting:

Last summer, when gas prices were hitting $4/gallon I had the fortune of attending a fantastic presentation on bicycle commuting [...]. Kevin Ishaug, owner of Freewheel Bike Center in Midtown Minneapolis (on the Midtown Greenway), talked about the “Red Herrings” nature of arguments against bicycle commuting, especially in the Northern Climates.

The excuses he discussed in the article were:

  • “It’s too far”
  • “I’m not in shape”
  • “It’s too cold”
  • “What about the snow”
  • “My clothes will get ruined”
  • “Where do I shower?”

The first commenter quipped that it was too much work to bring the bike out to ride the distance to her home office.

I also work from home, so while I certainly don’t need to bike in to my primary place of work, I really do have a need for transportation nearly every day since my work involves consulting and meeting with clients. My main red herring is that my meetings are too unpredictable and the logistics too uneven to try to bike to client meetings.

Besides, there is another red herring lurking right behind that one: the perception issue. I’m sure I’m not the only person who wonders how professional it would seem to a client if I rode up for a meeting on a bike. And I’m lucky enough to be known for being a bit of a non-traditionalist anyway, so while I think I could pull it off, there’s some cost in having to explain and wondering if there’s any loss of credibility and respect from the less progressive (but still important) clients.

What are your thoughts on these obstacles? Do you commute by bike occasionally or regularly? If not, what are the obstacles holding you back from bike commuting?

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