Saturday, November 15, 2008


My friend, Grace, at just posted an article about all of the short trips Americans take in their cars and how much we could save in gas, plus become more fit, if we walked or cycled. I commented that I don't use my bike to run errands. But her article got me thinking about the possibility. Result: I still won't. Rather than formulate coherent sentences, I'll just throw out a list as things cross my mind.
  1. I don't live 1.5 miles from anyplace I trade. The closest is three miles.
  2. I don't have a commuter bike, I have a custom titanium with high end components.
  3. Theft is a worry. There are locks for the bike, but the seat and pedals are vunerable; vandalism is a higher worry (big boot into the wheel, bent derailleur).
  4. How to carry whatever I purchase.
  5. I certainly don't need the exercise.
  6. Wearing lycra to shop or conduct business is not me. I see lots of oddly dressed folks, but I don't want to be one of them.
  7. Traffic diversity: some streets are safe, some are death traps for the unwary cyclist.
  8. Weather. Even at commuter speed, cycling in 90 degrees for even ten minutes can make a person socially unwelcome.
  9. What to do with helmet and gloves.
  10. BTW, time is not an issue.

Since I ride 2-700 miles a week, perhaps I can sell my emissions offsets....


  1. Aw, go on and try it! Dust off the Sirrus, get a rack & paniers (I'll give you one of my old ones next time you're in town, if you want). Or, you could put a nice wicker basket on the front, next to your bell!

    Of all your concerns, only 7 should be a valid sticking point to stop you (and it is, since the roads around you are just crazy). At 90 degrees, a gentle cycle will leave you sweaty for sure, but you'll quickly dry in the air conditioned shops.

    When I take my bike into town, I usually run the U lock through back wheel & frame, and send a re-inforced lock cable through the front wheel, passing through a helmet vent along the way. That puts the helmet securely within the frame geometry, limiting the chance of knocks. You'd want standard pedals with clips if you're worried someone will grab the clipless ones.

    I also generally pop a pair of walking shorts in my back to cover up while I'm going around shops.

    That said, if I'm going within a mile I usually walk and stick the purchases in a backpack, leaving the problem of what to do with the bike completely out of the equation...

  2. Keep in mind, I am starting from a negative position and am merely justifying it. If we lived downtown, or closer to stuff, I might try it. Like you, if it is close enough to walk, I'd rather do that.

  3. Jerry, I think commuting is a lot easier for those who live in a compact metropolis like New York City. As I bet you discovered when visiting, people here walk all over the place. To get a bit farther, they take a bus or subway. Point is, grocery, dry cleaners etc are all quite close. Re your "my only bike is titanium" argument -- many of us have a second "beater" or "clunker" specifically for errannds. You don't need to commute to keep in shape because you ride seriously; other people need exercise and don't get it. FYI, cycling is getting safer here in NYC-- the city's dept. of transportation has a mandate to spend MILLIONS on more bike lanes. Next time you are in NYC, we'll rent you a bike and I'll take you on a tour of some of the changes that despite the heavy traffic, have made us a much more bike-friendly place

  4. Grace, NYC is one place I never have on my agenda. That is because when the urge hits her, my wife has to come and hit as many Broadway plays as she can on an extended weekend. That usually coincides with a great deal on airfare. So, you might only get a one day notice, but expect to see me on my next trip, whenever.