Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Wednesday, 16 January

I wonder if anyone has studied the correlation between method of commuting to work, amount of coffee consumed, and workplace productivity and stress. Based on my own extensive fieldwork in the last two days of icy streets, I suggest that bicycle commuters tend toward more productivity and lower stress. Here's why.

My ride to work is 22 minutes. It's predictable but it makes me be alert and awake. I get to work with my blood flowing and my brain turned on. On the way home, work-related thoughts are replaced by the need to think about something else while I focus on traffic or where the next *&^#ing bump is on the Burke Gilman Trail.

It takes 45 minutes to get to work by bus. The bus is warm and dark. It's almost like going back to bed. When I get to work, I'm still in a fog, even if I didn't nap on the bus (somebody's too-loud iPod kept me awake!), even if I did a trainer workout before breakfast. I'm slow to take up tasks. I need coffee.

Driving to work is not an option for me (it costs $12 a day to park), but from my infrequent experiences driving in rush-hour traffic, I speculate that you need a cup of coffee in your hand for something to do while you inch toward that next stoplight. Between the caffeine and the annoying behaviors of other drivers, by the time you get to work, you're already on edge, ready to snap at someone. You need more coffee to soothe you.

[At this point, my readers in places like, say, Hood River are more delighted than ever that they don't live in the big city.]

Yeah, you can rationalize anything, but I'm grateful I can ride my bike to work almost every day. And these days when I can't (there is a demonstrated and strong correlation between icy roads and broken bones in cyclists) make me even more grateful. Ice, ice, go away!


Argentius said...

People complain about the rain here, but I am just happy we have the nastiest weather in the world that you CAN, essentially, ride a bike in year-round.

Compare that with some friends in Chicago I was just talking to ... 7 degrees this weekend. Seven. And windy, with snow showers. Yay!

My commute to work takes me about 20 minutes as well, and though with no streetlights and a steep hill to start it out, occasionally it's hard to get out of the door. But, overall, I always feel a lot better when I get to work, and chuckle at the suckers sitting on the hands, parked on I5, when I cross the little bridge over the freeway.

Good times.

Ted said...

I can wak to work in 17 minutes or ride to work in less than 7. I love it. Of course, the 300 meter 12% hill going to work sucks (but it is better than the 200m 15% hill I encounter on the way home).

You guys are very lucky. This is by far the worst winter the Palouse has seen in awhile. There is more snow than usual.

Brian said...

This time of the year I don't ride to work. If I need a light, I leave the bike at home. As a person who's body has been bounced off the fender/hood/through the windshield of a vehicle, I prefer daytime commuting. Not that it's any safer, I justfeel more comfortable.

You are right though, the days that I drive I feel like a lump. It takes me until 10am to really be productive. My ride days, however I fly through the day and look forward to getting back on the bike for the return trip. On a direct route I ride 32 miles round trip, if the afternoon suits me I'll throw in a Mercer Island route that will give me an extra 20.

When will spring come? :-)

Michele said...

Saw many cyclist out on Tuesday morning rolling down 24th NW. Total sheet of ice... as I was wlking a guy rolled by and a second later his wheels came out of under him dropping his body directly infront of a pickup. If it wasn't for the fact that he kept sliding on the ice when he went down and the truck slid into the median he would have ended up under the wheels. Some days you just aren't going to win and the extra cup of coffee inpalce of that blissful morning commute can be a good thing. No more ice please. ;)