Cycling is not just poor man's transportation

Carlton Reid has been a journalist for various British cycling publications (print and online) for 20 years now. Some of you are familiar with his Quick Release blog, and he’s a good friend to the Crooked Cog team.

Carlton posted some commentary on how many news stories about the increase in bicycle commuting lead off with the economic factor that motivates the new converts — driving is simply becoming unaffordable, so people ride their bikes to save money.

Carlton wants to emphasize the idea that bikes are fun.

With the zeal common among converts, they recount how they may have started cycling because of the spiralling price of fuel but they have discovered how much faster cycling is in towns and how much weight they’ve lost and – the knock-out punch – how much fun it is.

Driving to work may be dry, convenient, cocooned and with music on tap, but is it ever described as fun?

He wants to come up with a single word that conveys the notion that cycling is superior to motorized transportation. Go read his post and join the conversation there.

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0 thoughts on “Cycling is not just poor man's transportation”

  1. Carlton Reid says:

    Thanks for the mention, Tim.

    I’m guilty of over-playing cycling’s fun factor. That’s the opinion of a cycling academic and the boss of the UK’s cycle retail organisation.

    I kind of agree with them, cycling isn’t a laugh-a-minute experience. But, just like today’s Yehuda Moon, even cycling in the rain can be fun. It just depends how you head-classify ‘fun’.

    I’m also interested in getting more examples of single words that can describe ‘cheap’ and ‘superior’. Mine is cheaperior. Let’s have some more examples, here or over on


  2. Carlton Reid says:

    Ah, just seen the byline. It’s thanks, Fritz (and Tim, too).

  3. Fritz says:

    No worries — it happens all the time since Tim and I smell so much alike. Some have even suggested that I’m just a sock puppet of Tim!

  4. Ghost Rider says:

    I like “inexpectacular” — inexpensive and spectacular.

    Carlton, I don’t believe that one can “overplay” the fun factor — while it isn’t a 24/7 laugh riot at times, it sure puts a smile on our faces when the weather is nice, the birds are chirping and we’re whizzing past all those cars stuck in traffic. I think if more people realized just how enjoyable bike commuting could be, more would be willing to give it a try.

  5. NoTrail says:

    Personally, it’s even fun when it’s not nice weather and the birds aren’t chirping … since we’re still whizzing past all those cars in traffic! I just enjoy the free bike ride everyday.

    It sure beats the alternative … never finding enough time to ride!

  6. matthew booth says:

    Maybe it’s just my route… but I almost never whizz past any cars – except those that are parked.

    I even pedal as fast as I can for the entirety of my commute.

    For me it isn’t as fun as it is rewarding. Perhaps it would be more fun if I could figure out why my lower back (hips?) hurt for the last 20 minutes of my ride and my fingers start going numb. When that kicks in it’s just miserable.

  7. Fritz says:

    @Matthew: I don’t know about the lower back (perhaps incorrect saddle height?), but your numb fingers might be from wrist pronation, which you hvae when using straight “mountain bike” style handlebars.

  8. matthew booth says:

    @fritz: Thanks for the reply. I’ve tried adjusting the saddle to different heights. I may need to stretch my hips and back better, maybe some crunches to strengthen my ab.

    As for the wrist, what sort of handle bars do you recommend? I have mountain bike that’s been converted into a road bike. I’ve seen the curved handles on bikes, not sure what they are called.

  9. Hayduke says:

    @Matthew: Try adding a set of MTB bar ends to your handlebars. These will give you a cheap way to get alternate hand positions during your rides and good leverage for climbing hills. No matter what bars you have on your bike if you stay in the same position you will get pain somewhere. Some bars offer more options but the key is to mix it up regardless. Good luck and ride safe!

  10. Cafn8 says:

    I know this is kind of off topic from the original post, but I find that when I’m a little cramped on a bike, my lower back starts to hurt. For example, I at one point I rode my mountain bike as my daily commuter. When I had a had a mechanical failure, I started taking my wife’s bike. The reach to the bars was a bit short and low, and after a day or two I developed lower back pain. After a couple more days of this I decided to flip the stem to give myself some rise instead of drop. The bars were still too close, but my back was straighter and the pain went away. Likewise, when I’m on my road bike I’m pretty low, but the bars are far enough away to keep my back from getting too crunched.

    As for the wrists, I love bar ends (another reason I don’t like my wife’s bike with its carbon fiber riser bars.) The “palms inward” position feels much better to my wrists than the “palms downward” position. On my mountain bike I like to grab the bar ends when I can, but I really prefer drop bars for long distances. No wrist pain at all.

  11. froggysmc says:

    I’d have to agree with Matthew about the journey being more rewarding than necessarily fun. It has its moments, but the satisfaction remains regardless, extending beyond the fun, the economics, or even the exercise. So what about “freewarding” as a moniker?

  12. Quinn says:


    I deal with back and arm pain daily also, try lengthening the cockpit (seat back and longer stem) for your back, numb fingers, ego-style grips.
    those are just 2 of the mainy adaptations I’ve had to make.

  13. matthew booth says:

    Thanks everyone for the tips for the pain! I got some new things to try…

    BTW whoever said riding a bike is a poor mans transportation has never had to buy front/rear lighting, an adequate lock, pannier rack and panniers, and all of the other parts and gear that’s “necessary” to have a decent commuter.

  14. Jeremy says:

    For those of you suffering from lower back pain:

    Strengthen your abs. Cycling requires a balance of strength between your abs and lower back, but unfortunately your abs don’t get stronger from cycling. Before I started working my abs, I had lower back pain. Now, I can ride 20 miles hunched over my road bike with no problem.

    For a word to describe the fun of cycling, how about “breezy”? It conveys a lifestyle akin to that of driving a convertible.

  15. Mindy says:

    I know the opinion is out there that we should stop preaching about the health and environmental and financial benefits of bike commuting — it’s all about fun fun fun! Now I’ll agree it IS fun, and we should certainly mention fun as one benefit, but cycling’s not ALWAYS fun, not to me and I’ll bet I’m not the only one. Riding to work in a soaking rain is just not a good time, nor is dragging extra clothes around, going uphill against the wind, etc etc.

    To me, it’s important to have backup reasons for riding. If it’s 108 degrees out, and here in Tucson it does get that hot, that’s okay, I’m going to ride anyway because I care about Earth. If some days I’m too discouraged to care about the planet because it seems nobody else does, well, there are still the health benefits to riding. If my legs are still tired from YESTERDAY’s ride, I’m still gonna ride today, because if I quit biking, I’ll have to buy another car and give up my part-time job and work full-time again.

    The list of reasons to bike commute is a long one, and we shouldn’t dismiss or belittle any of the benefits.

  16. cafn8 says:

    Mindy, well said. I couldn’t agree more. One reason would not be sufficient.

    When I DON’T ride (I still own a car) I feel so sluggish and groggy (sloggy) that remembering how I felt the next morning is usually enough incentive to get me up the half hour earlier. The energy and endorphin-induced euphoria I feel when I get to work are additional took a while to get to the point where the hurt and fatigue were outweighed by the good feelings (a few weeks of riding consistently), but now I really don’t like driving to work as compared to riding.

  17. chunkymonkeybiker says:

    After commuting for as little as 2 weeks, you can feel your clothes getting looser, and your muscles getting tighter. I like that.

  18. ohio cyclist says:

    How about ….




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