Confessions of a failed bike commuter

This year, I started composting, filtering water instead of buying plastic bottles, and recycling more than I throw away. I also eat local and organic as much as possible and joined a CSA for local veggies. But if replacing every evil, energy-sucking light bulb in the house wasn’t so painstaking, then why is it still so damn hard to pedal my bike four miles to the grocery store?

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, it doesn’t take much—if any—convincing to get my butt on a bike seat. I’ll ride sixty miles one afternoon, yet still reach for the car keys when we’re out of bread. To make matters worse, I actually own a cross bike that would transform into the perfect commuter. I’ve even purchased the fenders!

bike commuting, bike basket

You don't have to sport a fancy basket to run an errand

Yet I still sit in my car at the one stop light in town, suffering from a strange form of middle class ecoguilt. Aside from our own two legs, a bike is the purest form of transportation there is. Unfortunately, I tend to view my bikes as racing machines and aerobic base-boosters instead of a fossil fuel buster. The last time I used a bike solely for transportation was to pedal myself to elementary school.

Unlike the purple Huffy I used to ride, my cross bike is decked out with nice components, and I don’t think I could ever cope with having a bike stolen. Where will I lock it up and how will I haul all that additional cargo? These questions always keep me on four wheels. Maybe it’s time, like with all of the other changes I’ve made, to start small. Like replacing a single lightbulb, commuting can begin with riding to the post office for stamps or to a local coffeehouse. The rest will come in time.

If you’re mainly a recreational rider or racer, do you also use your bike for commuting?

One thought on “Confessions of a failed bike commuter

  1. Interesting writing, thank you!

    I learned to ride last year and would have put money on me always being a recreational rider off-road. Then fuel went up to the equivalent of over $10/litre, and I just couldn’t justify doing several really short journeys in the car every week. Especially journeys of just under 2miles that took 20minutes in traffic and then involved further crawling around looking for parking spaces. My first bike is now kitted out with fenders, basket and pannier. It’s a comfort hybrid bearing a few scars from the learning process, and I’m a bit less worried about it being nicked compared to my mountain bike. I started by never driving into town on Thursdays (market day), and that’s now extended to pretty much any day when it’s not raining or overly windy. I’m definitely using a lot less fuel and I can park where I want for free!

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