I live in an area where cycling makes a lot of sense for everyday tasks. I can get to work, the grocery store, and most essential shops easily and safely by bicycle or on foot.
As gas prices rose this fall, I started a little personal challenge of not using my car more than once a week. I was already riding my bike to work on my days in the office, so this shouldn’t be a big additional burden, right?
I don’t know. My sample size is very small, and I didn’t set up a good research question in advance. My evidence is purely anecdotal.
I can tell you that I’m tired. Far more tired than I expected. But I’m still doing it, mostly. Even if it meant I needed a long nap after cycling to swim practice and to buy groceries on Saturday. I did get up on Sunday to bike to church.
A little bit of my tiredness is undoubtedly because being nervous about sharing the road with cars is exhausting. Even though I am getting more confident, I miss the separated lanes and bike paths that are available to me in summer. T
And sidewalks often aren’t clear for pedestrians, so walking isn’t fun either. In fact, the closest I have come to an accident was when a pedestrian using the road jumped into my path to avoid being hit by a car.
If we really want people to adopt active living, which has huge benefits for overall health, accessibility and the environment, we need to push our civic leaders to invest in infrastructure that supports people to use non-car transportation year-round. And leaves them less tired and stressed from the effort.
Diane Harper is a public servant in Ottawa, and a recent convert to year-round cycling.