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Why do I Commute by Bike?

Simply put - I enjoy it! On the best days, such as early fall or late spring, the weather is good, the scenery gorgeous and I can get lost in the ride. Not everyday of course is like this - I do however have the gift of riding along the Chicago Lakefront Trail which hugs the shore of Lake Michigan. Most days, especially in the morning, it's great. The experience provides a wonderful feeling of freedom - riding like the wind! On these days, I can understand the claim that cycling makes you happier. According to the Canadian statistics, 66 percent of people who bike or walk to work are happy with their commute.

It has been 10 years since I started commuting to work by bike. And given the weather in Chicago it hasn't always been easy. But still I persist... why?

For starters, there are the health benefits of riding instead of sitting in traffic on Lake Shore Drive or being squeezed on the El train.

There's also the benefit of saving money - according one rider who did the math it can be $2,000/year - although given where I live, the savings is probably even greater. And of course commuting by bike is better for the environment. But that is not the main reason.

Many days however, its not quite that uplifting. In fact, each season has its unique challenges - cold, snow and ice in the winter, rain in the spring and summer, high waves in the fall and congestion on the path in the summer. And there is always the wind! In addition, there are the same issues that any commuter faces - getting motivated when you are tired, hauling your stuff, the unexpected delay... so why do I keep riding?

Well, these challenging days are the ones that have helped me to realize why I ride, Let me explain. I used to think of myself as a guy who sometimes commuted to work by bike. A fair weather rider - if the weather was nice, and the pavement dry, and I had the time and you name the condition, then I would ride to work. Commuting by bike was not the normal way I got to work - it was the exception.

I used to think "if the weather is nice and the pavement dry, and I can be late to work in case something goes wrong with the bike.... then I'll ride." Commuting by bike was the exception.

So whether you are just starting out, experimenting with riding more often, or an all season biker, this blog is for you. If you have a story to share or there are topics you want to hear about please let me know.

But gradually I made a mental shift. I added fenders to my bike to avoid getting wet, I came up with a system to carry and store my clothes, and even built my own bike. Most importantly I became more confident in my knowledge and experience with bike commuting.

Nowadays, I am an all-season rider and I no longer think about all the reasons I cannot commute by bike. Rather, it has become part of my identity - I am a bike commuter. I get to work by riding my bike. Nothing heroic - just doing my thing.

Looking back, there were many people helping and inspiring me along the way. Other riders who were already riding to work, showing it could be done; the rider who stopped to help me on the very first day I rode to work and got a flat tire; the bike shop that helped me to build my bike. All along there have been people who have provided support and shown the way.

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