If you saw the New York Times article on bicycling commuting on the weekend, you might have experienced a moment of smugness. After all, cycling year round in Greater Victoria does not require multiple layers of wool and chemical toe-warmers.
Of course, most of us probably don't ride 65 kilometres to get work, either. The article details a pack of long-distance commuters who ride into New York, and how there's been an increase in people cycling from the burbs (even in sub-zero temperatures).
Bravo to them, I say. It shows it is possible to (a) commute long distances and (b) ride in cold temperatures, but as photographer Dmitry Gudkov and others (The Atlantic Cities: You Don't Have to Be Superhuman to Commute by Bike) point out, it's a “Nice story, but completely alienating to 98 percent of people who might want to ride to work.”
Most of my trips – and those of most utilitarian cyclists – are under five kilometres, excluding me from that particular peloton. In fact, I choose most things in my life – apartments, dentists, grocery stores and so on – based on how easy and convenient it is for me to get there on a bike. So no surprise that the story of my commute goes something like this:
At 2:10 on an eight-degree afternoon, Bryna Hallam readies for her three-kilometre commute, which she will make on her 50-pound steel bike.
She dons her work attire – on this day, tights, a wool dress and leather boots, all topped with a jaunty red coat and leather gloves – then pulls on her helmet. A striped scarf completes the outfit.
Fifteen leisurely minutes later, she pulls into the office bike storage room. She leaves the helmet hanging from her handlebars and goes upstairs to her desk, where she pulls off her jacket and sits down.
Not quite as exciting, to be sure, but easy to do. It's not often I have to talk myself into riding, and I'm glad to have those 20 minutes or so (it's almost 30!) of physical activity built into my day.
And those times when I find I'm not riding as much (like after I had the flu last month), I inevitably find the universe giving me some sort of prod: Nothing says get back on the bike like dashing for five buses in the space of a few hours, and only catching one.