The New York Times takes on the top reason cited by Americans for not biking or walking to work, from a recent survey on active commuting.
That issue? Time.
But, as the Times suggests, the 97 per cent of Americans who don’t use active transportation for commuting may want to rethink their reasoning.
As the Times reports, “a new study published in a journal called Transportmetrica A: Transport Science shows that people often overestimate the time required to commute actively, a miscalculation especially common when someone has secured a parking permit near the office.”
The study of 500 university faculty, staff and students found that estimates of commuting time on foot or by bike were generally poor, with 90 per cent of respondents overestimating the length of their journey to work by over ten minutes when compared to Google maps.
The few assessments close to Google’s were almost always made by riders or walkers. Parking availability and distances affected the estimates. Those with parking permits, a fiercely sought-after campus amenity, tended to overestimate active-commuting times significantly; the closer someone lived to the workplace, the better the guesses. Confidence had an outsize effect, too. The people surveyed, especially women, who had little bicycling experience or who did not feel physically fit thought that active commuting would require considerably more time than the Google calculations.”
Other commuting concerns such as bicycle lockers and accessibility to showers and places to change clothes were not discussed in this study, but time itself appears to be “less of a barrier to active community than many might anticipate” according to Melissa Bopp, a Kinesiology professor who was also the study’s senior author.
“I’d urge anyone who is considering biking or walking to work to do a test run,” she says, perhaps on a weekend (although the traffic patterns will be different from those during the week). Ask colleagues for route suggestions. “Google is good at finding bike paths, but it emphasizes brevity and directness over scenery for walkers.”
employee-walking-bike-on-way-to-work-750x500Image: GlassDoor.com
 

Comments

  1. In many instances cycling is faster than transit because it’s door to door, completely on your schedule. On many trips it’s as fast as taking your personal car.
    The image above is also illustrative of why people don’t bike. The guy is walking his unequipped bike – no fenders, no panniers, while sporting a shoulder bag. You’re foolish to cycle wearing a shoulder bag. It’s uncomfortable and dangerous – you corner, the bag slides, throwing you off balance.
    At the beginning of last summer I owned six bikes, but mostly used a loaded touring bike. Thought it was the best way to transport self and do shopping. Most of the time you need to carry stuff, and backpacks are a sweaty drag.
    Yet I bought a seventh bicycle that summer – an early eighties fully rigid mountain bike – the best of its genre. It’s so much better than my other bikes that I’ve used it exclusively ever since. Equipped with all the useful gear, its comfort and practicality is phenomenal. And it’s fun to ride. If people owned bikes like this, they’d cycle more.
    A bike like this one, as equipped, would cost over 2K – lots, but it’s what people spend just on car insurance.
    Theft of bikes, or their parts, is a big issue. There are things you can do, besides secure parking, to alleviate that – special nuts and bolts; ball bearings glued into allen key slots, and other strategies.
    And you should always have covered parking. Can’t believe that all those Mobi bikes are sitting in the rain deteriorating.

  2. Not mentioned is the time worked to feed the car. If cycling to work replaced a car, then the dollar savings could be significant and these could be used for extra time off work or earlier retirement. For someone earning $60/hr, a $6000 yearly cost for for feeding the car would give 100 hours of extra time . Also, cycling to work gives one transportation and necessary exercise at the same and this results in a longer and healthier life, hence one is actually making time. So if the trip to work takes no time at all, then how can a car beat this? Unless it went the speed of light.

  3. To speed up your commute more try an electric bike. I save 10 minutes on my travel time with my electric bike and another 5 minutes because I don’t need a shower when I arrive. I travel 20 kilometers each way.
    According to Google Maps I should be doing my commute in 1hr 16 minutes by bike and instead I do it in 50-55 minutes. By car this commute is 30-60 minutes depending on the severity of traffic crossing the Fraser. By Transit it’s 45 minutes.

  4. The reason I got into biking to work in the first place was simply because it was the fastest way to get there. I was accused of being ecological for it by a co-worker though. (This same co-worker drove a huge truck to work and then complained about parking.)
    My bike is efficiently designed and I don’t go so fast that I sweat so don’t need a shower or anything like that.
    On very rainy days I take the bus. (Which takes longer but I get to listen to podcasts.)
    This time of year I get to bike down quiet neighbourhood streets with beautiful cherry trees blooming. (I’m sure somebody could get creative and find something bad about that but I can’t think of anything.)
    One of the advantages of living in a big city are the many options for getting around that it has. In a smaller place if your single mode of transportation isn’t available to you, you can’t get anywhere.

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