Sunday 26 January 2014

Common trips and the factors that make them easy to do by bike

Summary: This blog refers to me cycling for 99% of my annual city trips (3,500km/yr) and outlines the massive benefits. In this post, I break down those trips into the common types and explain the key factors that enable cycling to be the feasible, superior option.

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Greg Raisman

Related Posts:
> See the "barriers and solutions" category on this blog

1. Annual Trip Breakdown (2013)
- The below table summarizes my most common trips and the key factors that make cycling the best way to do these trips. By applying the lessons noted in this blog, cycling is so superior in saving time and money and so much more convenient and enjoyable that it is a no brainer choosing to cycle for all trips where I can't walk.

Trip TypeTrip Km / # of Trips / Total Km / Cycling %Key Factors Enabling Cycling
Work Commute - Fitzroy North to CBD4km / 172*2 trips / 1376km / 99%- Choose to live close to work
- Direct, safe, popular cycling route
- Can incorporate enjoyable, daily exercise
Weekend Shop - Fitzroy North to Brunswick3km / 44*2 trips / 264km / 100%- Much quicker and more convenient to shop by bike
- Door-to-door safe, cycling routes in inner city
Eating Out/Takeaway - Fitzroy North to inner city suburbs~3km / ~40*2 trips / 240km / 99%- Safe routes in all directions; Much more enjoyable and convenient to get anywhere
- Girlfriend cycles often too
Events (sport, entertainment) - Fitzroy North to inner city~5km / 15*2 trips / 150km / 99%- Safe, direct routes make it the quickest, easiest option
- Can always park right outside event
Friend's houses - Fitzroy North to nearby suburbs~5km / 15*2 trips / 150km / 100%- Live in inner-city and friend's houses are typically 2-10km away. Safe, direct routes.
Recreational/Exercise - Fitzroy North to various~15km / 25*2 trips / 750km / 100%- Many scenic off-road paths and network of safe routes. Cycling is safe and very enjoyable around here
- Often cycle with girlfriend/friends
Social activities - Fitzroy North to various~5km / 25*2 trips / 250km / 99%- Cycling is the most convenient and enjoyable way to get to parks and social destinations around the inner city
Excursions - Wineries, rail trails, etc.~20km / 3*2 trips / 120km- Trains connect to rail trails or other safe-enough cycling routes.
- Much more enjoyable; can drink and ride.
Note: In 2013, there were 2 trips (out of over 1200) I didn't make at all (due to storms) which I might have made had I had a car.

2. Be pragmatic about which trips not to cycle; over time your cycling rate will naturally increase
- There were 4 times in 2013 I didn't cycle when in other circumstances I might have. Once was coming back from work when the rain was torrential and had set in (I caught the tram). Another 3 times, it was more sociable and convenient (for all) to go with my partner/friends via car or public transport.

- These exceptions aren't problematic. On the contrary, it proves you should be pragmatic and flexible (not an ideological purist) and do what works best for you. Over time, the proportion of trips where I don't cycle has gotten much smaller as the gains of cycling (particularly enjoyment) have increased. E.g. To begin with, I didn't like riding on rainy days. Now that I have a fender, rain jacket, rain radar app and more experience, I cycle almost every day of the year and enjoy it 98% of the time.

3. Change where you live and/or work/study to enable walking and cycling
- As you can see, for my most common trips (commuting, shops, going out) the distances are less than 5km. While I would now only commute by bike and be happy to do a one-way trip of up to 15km, the shorter the minimum commute distance the better. The same applies to the other most common trips: at least when starting out you'll want to keep them below 5km where feasible. If you want to unlock the benefits of cycling for transport you may need to change where you live or work/study to make the distances feasible.

- The other common, key factor in enabling all of these cycling trips is having safe, direct cycling routes to all frequent destinations. Outside the Netherlands, this just doesn't happen magically. You may need to move cities and will certainly need to choose where is best to live within a city so that you have access to the safest, most direct and well-connected cycling routes with respect to your frequent destinations.

See: > Choose where to live with cycling and your commute in mind