I’ll admit it: I wasn’t a very good New Yorker. There are people who delight in the essence of the city, feeling as though they are in the center of the world. The hustle and bustle, noisey, crowded streets and subways and the lack of space define the metropolis in a positive way for these people. It makes them feel in the thick of things. which they are!
But for me, a girl who grew up on the west coast of the United States, these characteristics of the city defined a claustrophobia that I couldn’t get away from no matter how much yoga and positive thinking I did. I hated descending into the subway every morning and then again the moment I left work, commuting with a stream of other rodents in dark and narrow passageways under the city. I hated that my days were punctuated by this plunge into the subterranean lightless world for an hour in both directions.
In London, many of my friends have a similar commute, but I made the conscious decision to live somewhere that I would be able to walk or bike to work from. It was the best decision I made about my living situation. I live in East London only 15 minutes via bike to work. If I take public transportation, it takes twice as long. I get to ride along regents canal, picking up a coffee along the way from Towpath Cafe or the Proper Archivist.
Now I find myself excited for my morning commute, happy to stretch my legs before work on my navy Tokyobike. I get to feel the elements and bike along a canal, a small mediation before I sit at my desk all day. After work, I am able to decompress during my bike ride, getting home feeling not only refreshed but also relaxed. Did I mention that I’ve already noticed that I’ve noticed I’m getting into amazing shape inadvertently from riding every day in addition to my regular workouts? That’s definitely a plus. And it helps the environment. And it’s cheaper! Simply changing my mode of transportation for my commute has literally changed my life.
TOP REASONS TO BIKE TO WORK
IT IS REALLY CHEAP:
In fact, it is free after you have purchased a bike and a sturdy bike lock. No more monthly fare cards for public transportation, no more car payments, no more car insurance. I save around five thousand dollars a year by riding my bike instead of driving. I have to admit that Uber has now become a bane of my existence. Its just so easy to hit that “request uber x” button and get door to door service. It is still much cheaper using a combination of Uber and cabs and bike and public transportation than owning a car.
YOU ARE SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT:
I just did a quick calculation on the CycleScheme.co.uk and a 5 mile bike commute vs car commute will keep 178 kg of carbon dioxide out of the air each year. We should all be doing everything we can to cut back and reduce carbon emissions. My friends from home (West Coast, USA) cannot believe that I have only gotten behind the wheel of a car a couple of times in the last 5 years. You are regarded as a crazy person if you have a car in New York City or London.
YOU CAN LOOK SUPER COOL:
Bike riding is super cool. You can buy cool gear. And get a pretty bike. I got mine at tokyobike and couldn’t be happier. They have a seriously amazing assortment of accessories as well. Being a cyclist is sort of like being part of a really big club of cool people. People will like you more because you bike. No promises there, but its worth a shot.
IT WILL MAKE YOUR BUTT LOOK AMAZING:
Just think of it. That 30 minutes you spend sitting on the subway could be the substitute for the 30 minutes you force yourself to bike on a stationary bike at the gym. Its useful exercise! On that same CycleScheme.co.uk calculator, I calculated that a 5 mile bike commute you will burn 2,336 Calories PER WEEK. That is the equivalent of almost SIX HOURS IN THE GYM. I REPEAT. SIX HOURS.
IT CAN BE A MORNING MEDITATION:
The wind rushing through your hair, a cold nose, a brisk 20 minutes of exercise, 20 minutes where you have no screen in front of you and no headphones in your ears (don’t ride with headphones in, please!) can do wonders for a morning routine. In the evening, riding your bike home offers you an opportunity to clear your mind before getting back home for the evening. You can even do positive affirmations or breathing exercises, but just don’t get so carried away that you don’t know whats happening around you.
IT IS FASTER:
I get to work via bike in about one third of the time that public transportation takes. No waiting for the bus or the train to arrive. And its quicker than a car in the city, because you are always able to skip to the front of every traffic line!
So obviously, I am making an effort to convert you to bike commuting. It can be daunting at first if you aren’t used to riding on city streets, but absolutely within reach for anyone living in someplace like New York or London. New York alone added miles and miles and miles of bike lanes recently and city planners are trying out parking protected bike lanes in some areas of the city. Just get a bike or use a citibike or barclays bike, buy a helmet, read some bike safety info, and start tomorrow! Wear a helmet and ride your bike to work. Be happy. Get in shape. Save the planet. And all that.
Love, Tegan Bukowski
Tegan is a vinyasa yoga teacher, architect and product designer, insatiable traveler, and co-founder of SERENE.