I’ve been talking to a friend about some of the barriers to bicycle commuting. From this discussion, I’ve come up with a list of the most significant barriers:
1. Style/Appearance: Sweatiness/general disheveledness caused by bike commuting.
2. Luggage Capacity: Inability to carry extra stuff (groceries, piles of books, boxes, etc.)
3. Effort: Laziness or feeling overworked
4. Safety: Feelings of being unsafe on a bicycle in traffic
5. Weather: Problems with in climate weather
The solution to all of these barriers is easy and simple, drive your car instead….
But, let’s not forget all of the attractive aspects to bike commuting:
1. Save on gas, car wear & tear.
2. Do your part for the environment and world politics, by reducing oil dependence.
3. Get exercise & commute at the same time.
4. Avoid and reduce traffic congestion.
I’m convinced that there is a significant group of people who are very aware and interested in the advantages of bike commuting. It seems to me, that they likely can’t make the switch to bike commuting because of an issue with a barrier. This group is very much ‘on the fence’ and in an effort to encourage bike commuting, this group is very worthwhile to focus on.
Someone who is ‘on the fence’ as a bike commuter, is likely to already be comfortable on a bicycle. We could derive, that they have overcome Safety and Effort barriers. Weather and Luggage Capacity barriers can affect individuals very differently, but we could derive that potential bike commuters who are already comfortable with cycling would have gained some ability to deal with these two barriers.
My assessment is that the first barrier, Style/Appearance, is the barrier that has the widest impact on potential bike commuters. Style/Appearance is important to some degree in most professions. If you are on the fence over this issue and bike commuting, it is likely that you need to appear professional, clean, or in uniform at your job.
In order to reduce the impact of the Style/Appearance barrier to bike commuting, several things need to happen. Potential commuters need to take steps in finding ways to maintain their style & appearance while bike commuting; cycle clothing manufactures need to develop new lines of commuter/professional clothing; & businesses need to become more aware of their employees interests in bike commuting, offering support for bike commuting style/appearance & installing facilities such as showers, lockers and bicycle storage where applicable.
Quite a bit could be said about how commuters should go about improving their style and how this could be supported by businesses and the bike industry. I’ll be getting more into suggestions on biking style and appearance in some coming blogs.
As far as the other barriers to cycling there is a lot of great info on bike commuting at the following link. http://www.bikeleague.org/resources/better/commuters.php