Monday, August 24, 2009

"Only" two miles

I had to stop somewhere after work on the way home, and I'm testing some new stuff out on my mountain bike this week. Actually, just today. I think I found out what I needed to know after one day of use.

On my way out, a guy was on break, standing next to my bike. We talked for a bit while I unlocked it and got things situated. He asked how far I have to ride to get home. I said "Not too far, only 2 miles."

He repeated: "HAH! 'Only' two miles."

I think a lot of people have this recollection of "Running the mile" in gym class more than a decade ago on their high-school 400-meter ovals. When it comes to cycling, they fail to comprehend how oddly efficient it is -- likely because many people haven't ridden a bicycle nor walked very far in quite some time.

I haven't ever sat down to do the math, but I've heard experts say you can travel 4 times faster, 4 times further in the same amount of time given equal effort between cycling and non-mechanized transportation. I didn't break out into Wikipedia mode on this poor fellow, but I did explain that it's faster and easier than walking the two miles before I bid him farewell.

I think this kind of confusion is one of the biggest barriers to getting people out of their cars and onto bikes for short errands.


Scott Redd said...

That unfortunate with how out of touch we as a society have gotten with how non-motorized transportation can work.

Even walking, it would only take about 1/2 hour to make two miles, but ask someone to walk two miles and they'll likely quote multiple excuses why they can't.

Way to be steady in your role as bike ambassador.

Frogman said...

It is MUCH harder to run a mile than to walk it leisurely, and most people haven't actually thought about how far they walk in many situations. Anyone figured out how far they walk on a trip through several shops around a mall?

Noah said...

Forget the mall. How about how far they walk from the back 40 at the stadiums? But they can't be bothered to walk 4 blocks for a show at Sprint Center.

Matt said...

When I first started commuting daily by bike( a 12 mile round trip) I thought I would be positively RIPPED within a few months.

I had no idea how little effort it took to bike six miles in the morning and six miles in the evening, even with a couple hills. Shoot, within a few weeks, I could do it in my work clothes.

TG said...

Yeah, 2 miles isn't much... It's the 20+ "only" miles that get me. I don't ride/walk enough to make 15, let alone more.

I always crack up when I see people driving to the gym and prowling the parking lot for a close space. What's the difference if you're in BFE, you're there to work out, right?

shan said...

Ha ha! I second what TG said. My neighborhood Ace Hardware has a Curves right next door. Every single parking spot in front of Curves has a sign stating the spot is reserved for Curves members. That makes me laugh every time I see it.

People at my office think I'm crazy for biking a 20-mile commute. I was right there with them before I started. I thought, "What am I getting myself into?" Goes to show you there is such a disconnect in our culture about cycling as transportation.

BluesCat said...

My gym is almost literally across the hall from the locked conference room where I park my bike when I commute to work.

The 8-mile commute on the bike takes about 30 minutes; about 15 minutes in the car. My circuit training takes about 30 minutes. I take a luxurious 15 minute shower at the gym, whether I’ve biked to work or worked out after the car ride.

So the time works out like this:
Bike: 30 minute ride + 15 minute shower = 45 minutes total
Car: 15 minute drive + 30 minute workout + 15 minute shower = 60 minutes total
I save 15 minutes in the morning by taking the “slower” method of bike commuting.

Unknown said...

2 miles is nothing if you have a decent bike. Now if you're one of those people on a crappy bike with a rusty chain, too low seat, and you're riding on sidewalks then it seems quite a bit further. Maybe people also need to realize the difference good equipment can make. This doesn't mean lots of money, just better knowledge.

Scott Redd said...

Ironically, I overheard a conversation this morning between two gentlemen.

One told the other: "I live right across the street from the gym. If I make all the traffic lights, I can drive there in 60 seconds."

Anonymous said...

Copied this from another website:

The bicycle is the most efficient form of human transport in the world. Energy is often measured in calories, which we are all familiar with. When you look at food labels, the available energy is actually listed in Kilo Calories (that's 1,000 Calories). The available energy in a gallon of gasoline is 31,070 Kilo Calories. The average person consumes between 30 to 50 Kilo Calories per mile traveled on a bicycle (depending on the load and speed). As you might assume, carrying a heavier load or going faster will burn more calories per mile - just like in your car. Anyway, suppose you are cruising to and from work at a 30 KCal / hour pace. At that speed, you could travel 1,035 miles on the energy in a gallon of gasoline. Given that even today's high tech hybrids generally get 55 miles per gallon, you are using 18 times less energy by riding your bike. Moreover, you are saving resources - far fewer materials are needed to make a bicycle.

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