A recent study done by the Transportation Research Board Business Office in Washington, DC examined the psychological factors that deter bike commuting. While the reasons people have for not riding to work are valid, there are also plenty of compelling facts that can inspire potential bike commuters to take the plunge. We took a closer look at the reasons some people don't ride—and offered some suggestions to make it easier.
Reason #1: Potential riders perceive bicycle commuters as young, energetic and physically fit, and equipped with special clothes or cycling gear.
Why it Shouldn't Stop You: We've written time and time again about how age is nothing but a number when it comes to cycling. Take multiple-time National Champion Julie Lockhart, who's still riding strong at over 70 years old. You don't need to be young to start commuting, and you don't need to be fit either: The fitness will come the more you pedal. Also, you don't need a ton of high-tech gear. You're not in training for the Tour de France, you're just pedaling to the office. There are plenty of great gear and bike options out there that won't break the bank, and won't make you feel like you're over- or under-dressed.
Reason #2: Potential riders are worried about how to maintain a professional work image if they cycled to work.
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Why it Shouldn't Stop You: Just because you ride to work doesn't mean you need to show up in the office wearing full Lycra and spandex. There are plenty of commuter-cool clothing options out there, and most people who commute do so in street clothes anyway. We also have some simple tips for making a quick change at the office (think baby wipes, deodorant, and a spare set of clothes). If you want to be stealthy, it's not hard to adjust your routine to avoid your cubicle mate staring at your grease-stained legs. Warning: They may be distracted by your now-excellent legs, though. Besides, what's more professional than taking care of your body?
Reason #3: Potential riders felt that they couldn't commute by bicycle because they needed to have a personal car available for such purposes as work duties or errands, chauffeuring kids or a pet, or carrying bulky items to and from work.
Why it Shouldn't Stop You: Admittedly, you may not be able to cycle everywhere. But with the cargo bike options available these days, you can find a bike that can tote kids, pets, plants, your Aunt Irma, or whatever needs transporting. We've done the legwork and looked at a few of the available models.
Reason #4: Potential riders are worried about the safety of cycling, with a particular focus on driver inattention and fears about cycling in the dark.
Why it Shouldn't Stop You: Cycling can be dangerous, but then again, so is anything in life. In fact, not exercising or taking the time to be active is arguably much worse for your health than a few miles ridden at dusk. And with all the lights available in almost any price range, cycling in the dark has never been easier. From illuminated bikes to great bike headlights, the sky is the limit. As for car safety, the obvious tips ring true: Always wear a helmet, and be aware of laws and your legal rights on the bike.
The survey did have some positive results as well. People also believe that having lots of co-workers who commute by bicycle could provide a "much needed boost of encouragement to biking to work, whether through positive motivation and camaraderie or peer-pressure and friendly competition." That's right, get those coworkers on Strava and start making some segments leading to and from the office!
The other positive is that many saw cycling in a good light and "believe that bicycle commuting would benefit them as a good way to fit in exercise, [and] decompress after a day of work." Darn right.
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