It was not a pleasant morning to commute from my home to the campus of Kent State University. Two or three inches of fresh snow fell over the course of two or three hours. The snow compromised visibility, road surface conditions, as well as the practical side of things like just getting out of my own driveway.
It was just a yucky morning to be out and about.
Here’s the thing: I did it on a bicycle.
Is that better or worse than using a motorized vehicle? Most Americans would probably be inclined to say that what I did was “crazy.” That it’s far more “dangerous” or “difficult” to try commuting with a bicycle, than it is with a car. But I’m honestly not sure.
How is it really more “difficult” to travel by bicycle? It usually takes me 11 or 12 minutes to get from my house to the University Library, in the middle of campus — and today, it took almost 16 minutes. Most of this was because I had to walk the bike up the big hill on the front of campus, at one point. But I would guess that anyone driving to work this morning was also slowed down and bothered by the weather conditions? Whether you count it in absolute time, as 4-5 minutes longer or as 33-45 percent longer, I imagine today’s commute would have actually cost me significantly more time to travel by car instead of bicycle this morning (and that’s even without factoring in the time it would have taken to shovel the driveway)!
The element of “danger” seems roughly equivalent to me, too, whether biking or driving. Maybe slightly less dangerous on bicycle, actually. With the bicycle, my body might actually hit the pavement — but maximum damages would seem to be pretty minimal, with maybe some bruising or scraping to my body, maybe as much as $50 in bicycle repairs, and a very low likelihood of liability for damages to others. With the car, though, I would have some metal and plastic buffering me from the outside world, but people still get injured all the time in car crashes, not to mention the potential for thousands of dollars worth of damages to my vehicle or to others’ vehicles, if an accident were to happen.
I will grant the fact that it was “crazy” for me to attempt a commute in the snowy conditions we had this morning. But I think it was equally crazy for people in cars. It was just an unpleasant morning to leave one’s house. But sometimes, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.
I’m glad I still rely mostly on my bicycle for day-to-day transportation. I do it for Health, for Wealth, for the Earth, and for Mirth! It’s good exercise. It offers significant cost-savings. It’s environmentally-conscious. And it’s just nice to find joy in connecting with my environment. Even on a day like today, I don’t understand why more people don’t do it.