I would love to ride to work every day. It would get me fit, save money on petrol, set a good example to my little boys, give me a little buzz of self importance in conversation with people who drive similar distances to work, all sorts of benefits. I don’t though. I have a number of goals I would like to achieve now the craziness of the festive period is fading into memory, and cycling four times a week is one of the defined tools towards these goals, along with two runs, a session each of yoga and swimming, four sessions of studying and ten of tidying and various other boxes to be ticked.
So I analyse my commute in the mornings (although not in so objective a manner, I don’t sit down with a laptop entering values into a spreadsheet as I did when buying a car). I subconsciously combine various criteria to come up with a yes or no on the bike, and I do this before I get dressed as I need to know whether to slip on skimpies or padded shorts.
So, what criteria do you consider? I know a lot of you ride regardless of anything but I’m not quite so hardcore.
What day of the week is it? It’s unlikely you’ll catch me driving to work before Thursday, all other things being equal, because the traffic can be abysmal. Aside from school holidays only Friday carries the promise of light traffic and easy driving.
Have I been ill recently? The chances of me riding in the day after I’ve been off sick are slim to non-existent. Mostly this is to give myself that extra time to recuperate but also I don’t want my workmates to think I can’t have been that ill if I’m well enough to ride the next day.
Am I in training, if so, for what? I have been known to pull on trainers and running tights and hit the pavements, even enter running events and, if this is the case, I will try to run the five miles to work at least once a week if not twice in an attempt to get in a training run in commuting time. This also means, however, that I need to drive into work the previous day with my bike in the car so I have a way of getting home the day I run in.
What am I doing after work? Last Friday I was catching the train from the station by work, weekend bag in hand, to meet my boyfriend for a few days away. It would have been difficult taking my weekend bag in on my bike and I didn’t like the thought of leaving my bike, along with a set of slightly pungent Lycra, at the office over the weekend.
What needs to be transported? If there’s something bulky and/or heavy which needs to be transported to or from work it makes sense to do it by car. Similarly with fragile items or even other people. If it’s just me, some clothes, a bit of food, I can cope with the bicycle.
A new criterion has just appeared: Has my boyfriend asked me to not ride in? I don’t do everything my boyfriend tells me just because he has told me to, I have will and mind of my own, but this morning he asked me to not ride in as he would be worried about me in the blustering winds and driving rain. Honestly I would have cycled if he hadn’t said anything but he very seldom asks me for something like this (normally he’s very encouraging about me riding) so it was evidently important to him this morning.
I’m sure there are more criteria. I may add them as I think of them.