Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bicycle Commuting is Not So Bad, Comparatively Speaking

This morning as I left for work at 2:30 a.m., it was raining. I have rain gear, but I rarely put it on. It's hot, and you can get just as wet from the perspiration as you would from the rain in most cases. I only use it when I'm coming home if it's a real deluge. But when going to work, now that's a different story. I have to decide whether or not I would be wetter with or without rain gear. I ride in my work clothes, and don't want to have wet jeans all day. As a year round commuter, I consider the weather one of my constant complications.

Then there is secure bike parking. Because I drive a truck, there isn't an office or even a closet to put my bike in. So I have to find a place to lock it up hoping it's still there when I return. While almost any immovable object will do, many businesses consider a vagrant bicycle an eyesore and don't want it around. While businesses and homes will dedicate almost 200 square feet of space to EACH CAR, whether or not anyone uses it, a place to park a bicycle is hard to find. (According to the League of American Bicyclists "Cost of free parking to the national economy: $300 billion. Cost of one surface parking space is $10,000; parking garage spaces between $20,000 and $40,000."

And if those weren't reason enough to give up bicycle commuting, there's the daily traffic. At 2:30 in the morning I have to ride in the dark and worry about drunks, then at 3:30 in the afternoon there is the regular Marion traffic jam. You wouldn't think that a town this small and insignificant would have this much traffic, but it seems that everyone drives two cars each, and all at the same time. I call it the gauntlet. You have to ride defensively, aggressively, and big. You have to establish your position in the lane early, and dare them to run you over (then hope they don't). I drive a 65 foot articulated vehicle full of thousands of gallons of gasoline all day long and I'm safer in that thing than on my 18 pound bicycle at the end of the day.

But the complications I have with year round commuting pale in comparison to the complications that diabetics have. I copied this from a website for diabetics...

"Statistics in Britain showed that almost 100 diabetes sufferers every week have a limb amputated due to complications with their disease. More than 2.3 million people in Britain have diabetes and an estimated 500,000 more could be suffering from the condition without realising it. If not managed correctly, the disease can damage the nerves and blood vessels that serve the limbs, eventually making amputation necessary."

"Scientific American has a special report on managing diabetes. We all know what a feat is the day-to-day activities of someone who cares for a diabetic or for a diabetic to live a life with diabetes. However, if done properly and religiously, diabetes can be managed as most can attest to it. Diabetes rates have reached epidemic levels, making information on how to manage the disease truly important. An unfortunate catch-22 of diabetes is that although the right dietandexercise can help with its prevention and management, diabetes itself can complicate both eating and physical activity. Patients may need to pay extra attention to taking meals on a regular schedule and to monitoring how exercise dehydrates them or lowers their bloodglucose. Some may fail to comply consistently with prescribed regimens that seem inconvenient or unpleasant, thereby raising their risk of complications."

If I didn't ride my bicycle every day, I would be facing those complications and more. So in perspective, I think I'll just ride my bike in the rain, snow and even ice, finding a place to leave it, and fighting traffic all the way. It's not so bad, comparatively speaking.

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