Bike Commuting

I live in Vancouver, British Columbia.  Almost every day I ride my bike 16 km each way to get to work at UBC.  It rains here.  It snows in the winter sometimes but mostly it’s rain.  Temperatures are cool, and only rarely cold.  Vancouver is a transit-rich city.  The bus system will get you anywhere in reasonably good time with reasonably few freaks and good chances for a seat.  I could ride the bus to UBC in about 30 minutes.  The bike ride takes 50.  Vancouver isn’t too bad to drive in either.  There aren’t many freeways but the arteries run alright and my hours are odd enough that I can dodge most of the heavy traffic.  I can drive to UBC in 20-30 mins. Riding a bike is dangerous.  many of my friends have been hit, luckily I’ve only had minor skirmishes. So why do it? Why bike when there are other options?  I can’t claim sustainability, greenness, CO2, blah blah blah.  Some mornings when I am ready to head out the door and there is rain hitting the window, driven sideways by what will be a headwind, I want nothing to do with my bike. Why bother?

My self-imposed questions on riding are always answered, but never before I’m out the door.  The answer always comes about half way there or halfway home, sometimes sooner sometimes later.  The answers usually come when my legs and torso are warm, air is flowing into my lungs and some of that headwind has eased from passing behind a building or crossing from one street to another.  They come when the centripetal force of swerving through a roundabout reminds me of a bottom turn.  They come when i ride home at night and get a view of the city from 8th Ave just as the hill’s gravity takes over and I coast for a couple of kilometers.  Sometimes the answer comes way late.  It arrives when I arrive home and step out of the rain, out of my wet cycling clothes, and into a sweatshirt and pants, and into a beer.

I don’t need answers to all of my questions, but I do need questions to answer.  Bicycling each day, and facing the uncertainty of my personal comfort brings a first question about each morning, which isn’t too bad a way to start.

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