Monday, August 25, 2008

A Day in the Life (part 3)

Jack finishes up his workout with some stretching, gets back on his bike and heads off to work. He heads straight for the bike racks in the garage. When he gets there, he laments how little room they have for bike commuters. When is the building going to realize that bike commuters need more space?

He is used to being dissed on this issue. 5-10 years ago, you never heard of people commuting to work on bikes. Even now, when the price of gas is through the roof and there are more bike commuters than ever, there is still an awful lot of people who can’t seem to understand the phenomenon. When the issue comes up, car people (aka, most people) often smirk, with a look of pity on their face. The questions are always the same:
Car Person: How long does it take you to bike to work?
Jack: Umm...about 15 minutes each way. When I used to live in Virginia my commute was about 45 minutes each way. Now THAT was awesome because I would bike straight through the trails along the Potomac and watch the sun rise every morning. On the days that I could leave work early enough the sun would set as I crossed the 14th Street Bridge. It was magical. :)

BTW, what do you do in your car every morning during YOUR commute?
Car Person: well, umm…I…I listen to the radio.

Jack: that’s…well…very stimulating.

Car Person: What do you do when it rains?
Jack: I bike year round, except when there is snow on the ground. Believe it or not, it’s actually more pleasant to bike during the winter; you generate a lot of body heat when you ride so there is more of an equilibrium when it’s a little chilly.
Car Person: No, seriously, what do you do when its pouring out?
Jack: What part of "I bike to work year round, except when there is snow on the ground," did you not understand?

Car Person: But you must need a car to get around?
Jack: No, not really. My grocery store is about 10 blocks away and I can get there and do most of my shopping with one, maybe two trips on my bike (I have 3 panniers that attach to the bike). When I need to get somewhere where a car is really needed I just rent a Zipcar by the hour.

By this point, Jack likes to ask the more pertinent question:
Jack: Well, how much did you spend on your car last year on (i) maintenance; (ii) gas; (iii) insurance; and (iv) repairs?
Car Person: Well, I don’t know…I’ve never done the math.
Jack: I spent exactly $235.79 cents commuting to work on my bike last year. That’s how much Citybikes charged me for annual maintenance on my bike. I probably spent another $75 using the Metro when there was snow or ice on the ground.
Car Person: Oh…that’s...very cheap…[silence…]
Jack: Yeah, I know.


Thaumata said...

seems kind of passive aggressive to suggest that someone couldn't enjoy their morning radio rockout commute as much as you love your bike ride in. i mean, i think music is very important to a lot of people. also, asking what you do when it rains is a legit question and not necessarily jerkish. i myself am curious how cyclists cope in the pouring rain, when visibility of them is low and safety becomes a bigger issue than normal, both in traffic and also with their health.

anyway, I always feel bad after reading your blog, like I just got in an argument with someone. Good luck on your journey. I won't bother you any more.

Jack said...


Seems like we are talking past each other a bit here. Took some 'artistic license' with an exaggerated Socratic dialogue between myself and a stereotypical car driver. Nothing jerkish about any of the questions at all.

And no worries. This blog is definitely not for everyone. Good luck!

Sharon J said...

I almost envy your bike rides - it must be so exhilarating to be able to take in the scents and sounds of everything you pass, something that we car people definitely miss out on whilst sat inside our little capsules. (For the record, I can't ride a bike because of my health problems, not because I'm too lazy to.)

I do enjoy listening to the radio in my car, though. That's actually the only time I listen to it so it's kind of special :)

Jae Jagger said...


Blogs, they're rough, aren't they? I learned that.

Anyway, bikes. I admire you because riding a bike scares me. I'm clumsy except on the back of a horse. Now, if I could find a good dirt road to gallop my horse on every day to college, that would be cool.

Provided, of course, that somehow I'll be well enough to ride again.

Zipcars. I read about that in a mazagine once, and I love the idea.

To me, however, driving is an enjoyment all unto itself, especially with a good car. I know it's not ecofriendly, but there is no feeling like pushing down the petal, and being sucked back into the seat.

I don't care about homes or fancy wines, but I tell you what, I would love a really nice sports car.

LiveWorkDream said...

Ooooh, I can totally relate. When I used to bike commute in San Francisco 7 miles each way, it was a joy to ride to work, even in pouring rain.

I know what you mean when you say that riding a bike is far more stimulating than sitting on your ass listening to the radio, going, brake...shift....brake...shift, from home to office and back. I've done both, and driving by car to get to work SUCKS and turns you into an angry zombie.

Sure, I always felt like a smug little punk when I'd get to work all smiles and giddy, and my fellow office worker bees were still gritting their teeth from the daily commute. But I deserved to feel that way, dammit! I knew something that they didn't want to make the effort to figure out on their own: that bike commuting is far easier than car driving people think.

If only more able-bodied people out there would get of their butts and try it!

Ride on dude, ride on.

Jack said...


I know about the health problems. Sorry to hear you can't currently partake...but hey, right now you get a bigger dose of simple happiness in one day than I do in one week, believe me. I'm envious! :)


Well, I'm clumsy on top of a horse myself! Rode only a couple of times...urgg.

And I do get the sports car thing. On my end, though, would rather rent them for a little while and not have to deal with the hassle of owning them.


From all your posts can already tell we have a ton in common. How did you negotiate some of those hills back in San Fran?

LiveWorkDream said...

Jack, believe it or not, there are definitely ways to get around the steepest hills in SF.

Riding to work downtown was a downhill thrill. It was going home to the Haight, or the Richmond when we moved out to the beach, that was a slightly uphill ride if I didn't want to go the roundabout way.

But after a long day at work, there was nothing like taking out aggression by pumping hard up those hills.

Needless to say, I was in MUCH better shape back then!

Jack said...


Believe me, even if I bike to work every day I am going to need some serious training if I, indeed, hope to do some serious biking after this whole Plan thing comes to fruition. I have a feeling you could probably kick my butt up hills. I may have an edge on flat ground. :)

carissashanti said...

LOVED Zipcar when I lived in San Francisco!