Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Why Didn't You Ride to Work Today?

Sure, motorcycle commuting is challenging; that's in part what makes it rewarding.  A few motorcyclists ride to work every day without fail no matter what Nature and life throws at them; some don't even own a car.  They're my heroes.  But as for the rest of us, I think we can all benefit from the sage advice of Andy Goldfine (founder of RiderWearHouse/Aero Design & Mfg. Co.) as to how to deal with some of motorcycle commuting's common hurdles.

Top Eleven Reasons Not to Ride to Work Addressed

1. HOW CAN I LEARN THIS?

Riding to work and for transportation is not as simple as using a car or public transit. Seek experienced commuting or transportation riders for lessons, information and mentoring. You’ll find commute-savvy riders by networking at local motorcycle groups, shops and clubs.

2. TAKES TOO MUCH EXTRA TIME.

Studies show that net motorcycle commuting times are the same as, or slightly faster than commuting by car. So even with the extra steps of dressing in riding gear, you’ll be ahead. To prove it, motorcycle every day for two weeks. The first week will be practice to establish riding routines. Time each trip during the second week and average them. Then drive for a week and average those times. Compare the two averages.

3. THERE IS NO SAFE PLACE TO LEAVE MY BIKE AT WORK.

This is common. Work with your employer or with a nearby property owner to arrange a suitable place. Ideally, it should be secure from theft and tampering, shaded, and convenient to your work area. Offer (or be willing) to pay for a good place. Leave a cover or lock permanently stationed at your spot. A locker or plastic bin can be secured to a fence or wall to contain both items, or store other gear.

4. ERRANDS.

Kids, groceries, shopping... you can use packs, courier bags, saddlebags, tank bags, bungees, and racks to carry a surprising amount. Most school age children can be readily transported by bike, but you’ll need to carry their gear (helmet/jacket/gloves) for them. Children of all ages are routine bike and scooter passengers in many countries outside of the USA. If you’ve been buying a month of groceries with your car, change to buying a week’s worth on your bike.

5. WORK CLOTHING IS NOT SUITABLE.

Keep a sport coat, suit, uniform or changes of work-suitable clothing at work. Or pack a change of work clothing along in a courier bag or duffel. Or wear a coverall-type riding suit.

6. EMPLOYER SAYS NO .

Explain how riding energizes and leaves one more alert. Regular motorcycle commuting improves concentration, risk management skills and overall health. You can also provide documentation from motorcycling advocacy sources like The Daily Rider www.ridetowork.org about the broader societal values, too. Use creative methods like sending a plant with an environmental pro-riding note. Follow up a few weeks later with a box of candies and another note about parking advantages. Send a fruit basket with a third note about health benefits a month later, and so on.

7. COMMUTE DISTANCE IS TOO LONG OR SHORT.

Get a more comfortable motorcycle. Lots of people do daily 100+ mile commutes on touring bikes. Lots of people do one mile commutes on small scooters.

8. NO CELL PHONE AUDIO AND COFFEE.

Weatherproof radios, helmet speakers, or ear-speaker systems are all available, as are various functional cup holders and hands-fee phone brackets. Look for these (and more) in motorcycle magazine advertisements and from accessory catalogs or at shops.

9. RIDING IS TOO DIRTY.

Wash your face and hands upon arriving at work. Wear protective clothing when riding. Change clothing as needed.

10. TRAFFIC IS DANGEROUS.

Damn straight it is. But if you can drive to work for years without an accident, you can learn to do it just as safely on a motorcycle. Ride paranoid and keep your riding skills sharp and you should never have a problem. Without an automobile capsule, you’ll need to be visible and wear protective gear.

11. IT'S TOO MUCH WORK. AND SOMETIMES IT RAINS.

Get over it. And get a rain suit.

By Andy Goldfine, ©2004 Aero Design & Mfg. Co. Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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