Hi. I’m Doug, and for the past
two-and-a-half three years, I’ve been an urban bicycle commuter in beautiful Memphis, Tennessee. In that time period, I’ve logged somewhere around 2000 3000 miles on my bike, the vast majority of them commuting from home to work, to the store, to the pub, or elsewhere around town. I’ve done a few in-town distance rides, usually around 20-25 miles, and I’d like to plan a few more in the near future. But mostly, I just ride my bike around town.
To give you an idea of what being a bike commuter means, ask yourself this: How often do I visit a gas station to fill up my gas tank? (If you don’t own a car, you can skip this section.) Every week? Two weeks? Three? My bike commuting this fall has been especially consistent, such that I recently made a tank of gas last from early November until late December, around six weeks. In fact, I made the first half-tank last a full month. (The second half-tank would have lasted longer were it not for the holidays travels.) At that rate, I could have limited my trips to the gas station to 6-10 per year. Per year. That’s around 100-120 gallons of gas over twelve months. And I drive a 1997 Honda Accord; hardly a Prius or other gas-sipping vehicle.
Granted, I do live roughly 3.25 miles from my job – roughly a fifteen minute commute, depending on my caffeine intake – and I live in a fairly dense part of town, such that biking to the grocery store is no big deal. Also, my wife has assumed responsibility for
some most of the errands, so that I can rely mostly on my bike for transportation. But honestly, except for the once-a-week grocery store adventure or the every-few-weeks mega-trip to Target, most of our errands could easily be handled on bike. Indeed, smaller trips to the store every day or so greatly reduce one’s reliance on massive excursions every week or so.
But I’m not here to waggle my finger at you, dear reader, and try to shame you into riding a bike. Rather, I hope to serve as an example to those who’ve considered relying more on a bike as a means of transportation, or even never considered it at all. I don’t consider myself particularly fit, athletic in nature, or adventurous. And yet in a good week, my car doesn’t leave my driveway, and I log around 35-40 miles on my bike. Honestly, if you’d told me three years that I’d be starting a blog about my experiences as a bike commuter, I’d have thought you mad. But here I am.
Just a few more thoughts. First, by focusing my work here on urban bike commuting, I am necessarily excluding a number of other cycling-related issues. Other styles of cycling – long-distance on-road, off-road, cyclocross, BMX – won’t be discussed in much detail here. This is not surprising as I have practically no experience in any of those styles. Further, I anticipate that there are enough issues related strictly to urban commuter cycling to keep me writing for years, such that any need to branch out into other areas is likely to be minimal. I’m quite sure someone else is writing about those areas far better than I ever could.
Second, if any of you are interested in giving bike commuting a try, I hope my experiences serve as proof that you don’t have to be ripped like Lance Armstrong in order to get around town on a bike. Once you give it a try, you’ll find that a two-mile trip to the grocery store is easier than you ever thought.
Lastly, in addition to being good exercise, reducing traffic congestion, decreasing our reliance on fossil fuels, and cutting emissions of greenhouse gasses and other pollutants, riding a bike is just a lot of fun. That’s honestly what keeps me in the saddle: the knowledge that I am meeting multiple goals at once. Believe it or not, I am disappointed when I have to drive. Biking is just what I do.
Thanks for stopping by. And here’s a picture of me.
Also, you can follow me on twitter: @bikinginmemphis. And there is a facebook page for my blog: www.facebook.com/bikinginmemphis. Follow and like as you will.