Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cycling to Meetings - a Progress Report

The month of July is drawing to a close. Here's a report on my experiment to replace car travel with bike travel for a month.

What did I find?

*There is no place in the city of Boston that is faster to reach by car than bike. I average 15 miles per hour on bike and 10 miles per hour by car. A car on Fenway Red Sox days can be a painful 5 mph experience.

*My Harvard and CareGroup offices are 1.2 miles apart. I can go from desk to desk in 6 minutes, since my Strida folding bike travels in and out of the building with me. Car travel is between 15 and 30 minutes, depending on traffic.

*Parking in downtown Boston runs about $30 for the first hour. I saved more than the cost of the bike in one month of cycling.

* The streets of Boston are narrow, the potholes are deep, and the drivers are psychotic. I wore a helmet at all times, even for 1 mile rides between offices. The key to my success was to cycle in a predictable straight line, never darting in and out of traffic.

*Pedestrians and other bikes are even more hazardous than cars. I had numerous pedestrians (often walking into traffic while talking on their cell phones) nearly run into me.

*Rain can make cycling problematic. My Strida has fenders which protect me from tire spray, but wearing a suit while cycling in the rain can be tricky.

The bottomline - using a bike to commute in Boston saves me 30 minutes per day, saves gas, saves parking, and burns calories. If the rain stops, the pedestrians get off the phone, and the potholes are filled, life will be grand.

The experiment has been a success and I will continue to bike to all my meetings in Boston, April to November, weather permitting.


Unknown said...

Given the distrbuted nature of Caregroup and your multi-office setup, the bike is a great way to get around. Cycling in the city is far more dangerous than the burbs although I have been nudged, hit and forced off the road in metrowest more than the city.

If employees are commuting between REN and East or West and have an accident....will this be covered by Workman's comp. I am sure risk mgmt and HR have looked into this???

Unknown said...

Biking in Mpls is wonderful - we've got dedicated bike lanes!

Sudsy said...

For you next improvement campaign I suggest that you start educating people on the evils of wearing a suit. Once you've done this, then your bike trips will be that much easier.

Frank Bauer said...

I sold my car three years ago and -excepting rare moments when I wish I could go to the mountains - have never looked back. Right on!

Unknown said...

As I left to take a bike on a pre-purchase swing in Colorado Springs, the shop owner handed me a helmet. I told him I'd just go two blocks. He insisted I put it on saying his co-owner had left only to get sandwiches for the shop, got his wheel in a sewer grating, and died of a head injury after falling. I've not forgotten.

Unknown said...

Minnesota has many dedicated bikeways that enhance the bike-commuter's experience. In the midwest, eagles, bluebirds, deer, and various other furry critters share the shaded paths. The big downside in the north (apart from cold, of cuurse) is the darkness between September & November. I don't try to bike between November & March despite excellent headlights & taillights.

It has been reported that commuting bikers have much higher injury rates than recreational bikers One could speculate that the need to follow busy routes in times of peak traffic accounts for the excess risk. No confirmatory data is available to this writer.

Labandibar said...

I traded my Prius for an electric bike. Now I can wear a suit to a meeting and not sweat. Some have questioned the electric bike, asking if I wouldn't prefer to have the exercise. My response is that my electric bike replaced my car, not my jogging routine.

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annie said...

I can't imagine how anyone in Boston would drive everyday when it's so easy to walk/bike/take public transportation. Whenever I head to my parents' house in RI, I actually miss walking everywhere.

msobie said...

Manhattan has the same hazardous issues and then some. Since I have been commuting with my my bike this and last summer I have seen my share of the most dangerous phenomenons - rollerbladers typing on blackberries and tai chi practitioners in the bike lanes! This past Tuesday there was a casting call for Sex in the City, where 5,000 people queued on one city block caused a bit of chaos.
It is always an adventure.
I include the site in the technology tips update for my company to help encourage biking and navigation of the "safest routes". It is very helpful.

rob. fraser said...

Great to see a health care leader taking part in the cycling experiments. Hopefully someone with your influence can become an advocate for the making the hospital and city more cycle friendly. I'm in a nursing graduate student in Toronto, and wanted to say thank you for doing the things you do!