Commuting to work by bicycle is an enjoyable way to get exercise and explore new streets and trails within your city. York Region’s Cycling Maps reveal there are many bike lanes, multi-use paths and shared roads within the network that make it possible to reach your destination by bike. The Region also has a pedestrian and cycling master plan for fitness and recreational commuting. Cycling is great for trips up to 10 km each way, and it’s often faster to bike than to drive if you’re only going 5 km. Still not convinced? Let’s debunk some common cycling myths below.
MYTH: I have to make several trips to visit clients or to run errands during the day. I can’t give up the car.
ANSWER: The best thing about having transportation options is you can choose which mode of transit will suit your needs on a given day! You don’t have to give up your car. There’s no rule that says you must use a bike for every single journey. Using a bike should be pleasurable, not a chore. There will always be times when other forms of transport are just more practical than using a bike. Just try to use the bike more of the times when you don’t really need to use a car.
MYTH: Won’t I get all sweaty?
ANSWER: It takes most people 15-20 minutes to build up a sweat. If you don’t want to arrive at your destination all hot and flustered, don’t pedal so hard. If you want to cycle fast, and your journey is at least 20 minutes, wearing the right clothing can increase your comfort, i.e.: ‘wickable’ synthetic underwear, thin fleece mid layers and a windproof jacket made from a lightweight, breathable fabric. Several workplaces also provide showers for their employees. Alternately, look into riding an eBike! Electric bicycles are here, and there are even electric-capable wheels and batteries to upgrade your own bike to electric power. You can ride to work using the battery, without building up a sweat … then, if you wish, you can pedal it back to a full charge on your way home!
MYTH: Yeah, but what about the rain? I hate getting wet.
ANSWER: It doesn’t actually rain that much. Research has shown that, on average, it only rains hard on 12 commuting days per year. And anyway, by wearing the right kind of weather protective clothing you won’t arrive at your destination dripping wet. Damp, yes, but even if you travelled by car you’d have to go outside at some point, risking a soaking. Some necessary items are a waterproof jacket, cape, pants or shoes, and bright colours in dark or dim weather.
MYTH: My workmates will laugh at me.
ANSWER: Chances are, you get into work quicker than them, are fitter than them, have more zest for life for them, and are more alert and focused in the morning than them. If you want to spread the good word about cycling, start a mid-day lunch break ride, or encourage your workmates to start cycling at least once a day. Read our story about one City of Markham employee whose colleague inspired him to cycle to work.
Plus, cycling is stylish. Check out Copenhagen Cycle Chic to see the latest cycling fashions and how you can arrive at work looking like a million bucks! You’re a trend setter, so let them laugh – you’ll have the last one.
MYTH: Isn’t cycling really, really dangerous?
ANSWER: Only if you do it wrong. But do it right and you’ll find cycling is as safe as other forms of transport. Be confident and aware when riding city streets; remember to claim your road space, as you have as much right to be there as cars, trucks and buses. Other tips to build cycling competency include:
- buying cycling books at local bike shops with guides to riding in the city, such as Cycle Toronto founder Yvonne Bambrick’s The Urban Cycling Survival Guide: Need to Know Skills and Strategies for Biking in the City
- enrolling in an adult cycle proficiency course, such as CAN-BIKE’s adult instructional courses
- ask a confident city cyclist to ride along with you (cycle campaign groups often have members who help out in this respect).
MYTH: What about car fumes? Don’t cyclists breathe in all those toxins?
ANSWER: Research has proven that motorists breathe in more pollution than cyclists, who sit high above the fumes. Cyclists who are breathing hard are rapidly clearing their lungs out as they exercise. And, remember, if you are currently a car commuter, when you start cycling you’re part of the solution to pollution.
MYTH: Pshaw, me on a pedal bike? I want to get there today!
ANSWER: Cycling to your destination is faster than you think! A four kilometre journey in the centre of Toronto takes 22 minutes by bike, 30 minutes by subway, 40 minutes by car (even in a Ferrari…), 62 minutes on a bus, and an hour and a half on foot. Even in Markham and Richmond Hill, cycling can be the quickest travel option. Riding a bike along Highway 7’s cycle lanes takes 18 minutes, while driving in rush hour can take up to 25 minutes!