Thursday 27 February 2014

Smarter lifestyle choices will give you time to cycle

Summary: A major reason people give for not cycling for transport is a lack of time due to their hectic lifestyles. But cycling actually saves time overall when considered holistically rather than discounted as just a slower way to get from A to B. More importantly, cycling should be considered as one of several, connected lifestyle choices that leads to a more relaxed, enjoyable life.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Paul Arps
Related Posts:
The many ways cycling saves time compared to cars and public transport

1. Many people argue that they are too time-poor to swap driving for cycling
- These people make the mistake of seeing cycling as simply a new, more onerous, less flexible and slower way to get from A to B for a particular trip (e.g. their work commute), but with everything else staying the same. What they should do is assess all of the myriad ways that relying on a car takes up time - directly and indirectly - that they could otherwise free up.

- These include: parking, stopping for fuel, servicing, paperwork, accidents or breakdowns, sharing a car with others, time spent at the gym because they don't get daily exercise, and more time spent at work earning the money to afford a car. > See the "saving time" category of this blog for more details.

2. Switching to cycling should be part of making smarter lifestyle choices
- Instead of seeing your existing time-poor, stressful life as set in stone and cycling as a "nice to have" that can't be fitted in, you should instead be viewing cycling for transport as an opportunity to implement various changes to your lifestyle to make it more relaxed, flexible, simple, low-cost, enjoyable and time-rich.

- Going Dutch: Women in the Netherlands work less, have lesser titles and a big gender pay gap, and they love it - is a fabulous example of how the things people complain about having to fit in are not actually required and far from contributing to a fulfilled life actually detract from one's happiness and welfare. These include: spending long hours working, climbing the career ladder, earning as much as one can so as to buy a bigger house and better car, comparing one's success and status to your peers and filling your family's weekly schedule with various optional activities that require multiple car trips.

- With respect to the freeing up and use of time, the article advises:
"When I talk to women who spend half the week doing what they want—playing sports, planting gardens, doing art projects, hanging out with their children, volunteering, and meeting their family friends—I think, yes, that sounds wonderful. I can look around at the busy midweek, midday markets and town squares and picture myself leisurely buying produce or having coffee with friends. In a book released several years ago called Dutch Women Don't Get Depressed—a parody of French Women Don't Get Fat—Dutch psychologist Ellen de Bruin explains that key to a Dutch woman's happiness is her sense of personal freedom and a good work-life balance. But it's hard to transplant that image to the United States, where our self-esteem is so closely tied to our work." > Going Dutch
- The reality is that these different lifestyle choices are perfectly feasible and attainable, but people get trapped by the social norms they are used to and the expectations of their friends and relatives. What these people get right is that cycling for transport is contrary to these norms around status/success, complexity, aspiring to a demanding job and work-based self esteem. What they miss is the opportunity to use the switch to cycling for transport to simplify their life, reduce their time spent working (and seek self esteem elsewhere), use transport time for exercise, eliminate stress and prioritize enjoyment of their life and environment.

- To assess just how pointless the norms regarding work and success are, it's worth considering whether your voluntary, extra hours and efforts that result in being time-poor are worthwhile. Research summarized in articles like: Bad at Their Jobs, and Loving It indicates that:
Low performers often end up with the easiest jobs because managers don’t ask much of them, he said, so they’re under less stress and they’re more satisfied with their daily work lives. Meanwhile, dedicated and conscientious workers end up staying at the office late, correcting the work of the low performers, and making sure clients or customers are satisfied. This pattern breeds frustration and disengagement in the high performers."

3. Examples of smarter, lifestyle choices involving cycling for transport
- Below are examples of ways in which you can achieve a more relaxed, flexible, simple, low-cost, enjoyable and time-rich life by using cycling as your means of getting around. Also see the "lifestyle choices" category of this blog.

ProblemLifestyle choice relating to cycling
Getting into the office too eary or out too lateIt's safer to ride in daylight so use this reason to not come in before sunrise or stay too late. In winter I never stay past 5:15pm
A long hours norm at your workplace- Cycling to work will give you extra energy in the morning which you can sustain with a few short walks.
- Enhanced productivity will enable you to get your work done quicker.
Financial pressure- Cycling can save you thousands of dollars a year and enable you to cut down your days or hours at work.
Ferrying passengers in a car- Cycling gives you opportunities to scale back your family's dependence on car transport. Kids should be able to ride or use public transport.
- Smaller kids can be transported by bike.
Carrying lots of stuff around- Use the limited storage of bikes to reduce the amount of stuff to the essentials and reject other's dependence on your carrying everything in your car.
Juggling multiple tasks all over town- Use the limitations of cycling to force simplication of these chores and unnecessary trips.
Work clothing norms- Use the fact you cycle to reject these norms if possible. I haven't worn a suit in over 4 years and have simply attended work in the casual clothes I ride in.
- No-one has ever challenged this as the suit convention has no relation to job performance.
No time for exercise- Cycling for transport is free exercise that doesn't require any extra time or effort.
- You can create a much healthier lifestyle by switching more trips to cycling. See: Built-in exercise is a major benefit of cycling for transport
Stress- Cycling, especially as part of your work commute, is not only a great way to de-stress but you should use the pleasure of cycling to establish a peaceful mental outlook.
Crazy, inflexible schedules- Switching to cycling can free you from having to fit some of the schedule demands of others or that you self-impose.
- Fit in what you need to in flexible, spontaneous ways rather than overcommitting.
Status anxiety and complexity- Cycling for transport can be part of a greater philosophical change toward "voluntary simplicity" 

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