On one of my recent posts Chris left the following comment, principally about the inconvenience of riding a bike for short trips.
What I don’t understand is why people would actually want to cycle for journeys under 2 miles?
By the time you’ve got your bike out of wherever you keep it locked up, cycled to wherever you’re going, found somewhere to lock it up and removed your pump, spare tube and other bits and pieces (I wouldn’t expect to find them still on the bike when I got back in London if I didn’t), it’s probably just as quick to walk, and you don’t have the hassle of a bike to worry about.
I can see the benefit when you’re going shopping and will be carrying heavy bags back, but other than that there seems to be lots of asking how we get people to cycle these short journeys, but very little asking why they would want to in the first place?
I love my commute – and at 18 stone and 5’10″, I’m not your stereotypical weekend racer Mamil – because it gives me an opportunity to exercise on at least a couple of days a week which I wouldn’t otherwise get, but once I’m at work (in Central London), if I’m going to visit a customer within a couple of miles of the office, it would never occur to me to take my bike. If it’s raining, I’ll get a taxi, but if it’s not, then I’ll walk. The last thing I want is the hassle of not knowing if I’ll be able to find a secure place to lock my bike when I get there, or the worry during the meeting of whether the saddle (or potentially the bike itself) will still be there when I get out!
Chris will probably be a bit horrified, but I often use my bike to travel very short distances indeed – less than a hundred metres.
I’m not stupid, or wasting my time. The reason I cycle for these short distances is because it’s simply ridiculously easy for me to do so. I can make the transition from walking to cycling – and vice versa – in a matter of seconds.
I was going to try and explain how with words, but decided to make a short video instead. Because it makes it a bit more obvious.
My bike doesn’t really require anything of me, beyond a key. I don’t need to wear any special clothing, or equipment, that needs to be taken on or off. I just ride it in whatever I happen to be wearing, which will be ordinary clothing, appropriate for the time of year. I don’t need to take anything on or off the bike either – beyond unplugging the chain when it is locked with it – because everything that’s needed is a permanent part of the bike, like the lighting, and any storage. I don’t carry spares, or tools, because I don’t need to. There’s nothing to go wrong – the bike is built to be as tough and as indestructible as possible.
If I’m just popping into a shop, I can park it right outside, which is obviously very convenient – I can step straight onto the bike as I come out of the shop. Anyone trying to steal it will have to carry it away. If I’m away from the bike for longer periods (like work, or an evening out) or if it is out of sight, I will obviously lock it to something. The chain is wonderful for allowing you to improvise with street furniture that is close to hand, unlike a D-lock, which requires a degree of faffing and an appropriate object to lock to.
So – that’s why I ride a bike for very short trips. I’m definitely not the only one…