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I am moving next month and I need to figure out how to get to work.

Option one is driving to work, which will take 15 to 20 minutes one-way. Option two is biking, which will take about 35 minutes according to Google Maps.

The distance is 6.8 miles one-way, and the road is mostly flat.

Assuming money/cost is not an issue, which option would you recommend? I really like the idea of biking to work, because I sit in my cubicle all day, and I want to incorporate some exercising to my commute (currently I walk 20 minutes to get to work.) My main concern is that I am not athletic enough to bike 6.8 miles one way. Is that a doable distance for beginners?

Thanks!!

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    Does your workplace have a space to clean up after a sweaty Summer bike ride? Are you comfortable with changing flat tires and getting in late because of one? Is there a safe bike route you can take (that is, bike lanes that aren't full of glass and debris and drivers that are not hostile toward cyclists)? Will you need fenders for riding in wet conditions? I also recommend conditioning yourself for longer periods of time in the saddle. As someone who didn't ride regularly, I was quite sore after my first commute even though it was only 6 miles. – Henry A. Kissinger Jul 29 at 19:45
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    bicycling.com/news/a28472970/active-commuting-benefits-study Yes. I doubt anyone on a cycling-focused web site would tell you to not ride, though depending on your timing and other life requirements, we might suggest the car as-needed for when time is short. – Criggie Jul 29 at 21:51
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    Yes my workplace has a shower. I plan on just taking Uber/Lyft when it's raining, since my company will subsidize up to $100 on commute expense. I will need to look more into the condition/safety of the bike route. Thanks for pointing that out. – Hannah Jul 29 at 21:58
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    Answers are opinion based so therefore this question is technically off-topic, however if you reword slightly to ask what factors you should take into account in your decision process it will be fine. – Argenti Apparatus Jul 30 at 0:44
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    Protip: BRouter is a good tool for planning a commute, it avoids big streets by default already and lets you pull the route to smaller nearby streets in places where you see a better option. – Simon Richter Jul 30 at 9:45
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I estimate 6.8mi as about 11km. That is definitely doable for a novice, though it may not be as fast as Google's estimate at first. Unless there aren't any traffic lights or stop signs, you should figure your overall average speed at no more than 15km/h initially, so budget 45-50min your first time out. (Google is notorious around here for not allowing enough time for stop lights in their time estimates, and that's without having to get back up to speed.)

Of course once you've been doing it for a month you'll definitely start bringing that time down.

If you're asking in this forum, you have to expect we're always going to recommend that you bike! :) That said, there are places/roads that even I don't feel comfortable cycling regularly. I can use them occasionally, but wouldn't want to ride them every morning and every night. You'll want to check out the route so you know you'll feel safe (or have a bail-out option) even if it's a busy rush hour, or you get caught in a sudden rain, etc.

I would recommend taking a weekend morning and doing a test-ride to work, stop and have a coffee, then ride home. Take at least a half hour break, unless you're feeling really good. You can get a decent estimate of how long the ride will take. Plus it's the weekend, so if you're slower on the return it's not a problem and it'll definitely give you confidence to do the ride on a regular workday.

Cycling to work is one of the best things about my current job; the exercise in the morning - especially on a sunny day - really helps me arrive at work in a good mood, energized and alert. And the ride home literally helps burn off the stress of the day.

  • Thanks for your advice! I will definitely do a test-ride this weekend before making my decision. – Hannah Jul 29 at 22:00
  • Be aware that the traffic may not be the same during weekends as in weekdays – user1841243 Jul 30 at 7:48
  • I estimate 6.8mi as about 11km. That is definitely doable for a novice, though it may not be as fast as Google's estimate at first. And if you do the bike commute regularly, after a few months you'll likely be faster than that Google estimate. Since it's flat, if you're not worried about sweating, under 20 minutes is quite possible. – Andrew Henle Jul 30 at 9:52
  • @AndrewHenle: Yes, on a road bike a 33km/h average speed is good but not terribly hard over 11km. – Michael Jul 30 at 10:20
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    @WoJ Don't get depressed. I've been commuting by bike for almost 20 years now, and I've only twice, in probably at least 6000 runs, managed a pace > 30km/h door-to-door. I can get up to a speed greater than that for an interval, but then there will be a bus, a traffic light, a stop sign, etc. and I'll have to stop and it will kill my average. If you're commuting in an urban/sub-urban environment, 20km/h door-to-door is good. 25km/h is great. 30km/h is a tail wind and all green lights. – DavidW Jul 30 at 13:17
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With a bicycle is doable. With an e-bike is perfectly doable (and taking into account the battery life of about 2/300 charge cycles it is still cheaper than the car).

Take into account time to change your clothes when arriving at work (as well as carrying them with you).

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    Depending on the weather and your riding style, changing clothes may not really be necessary. I'm one of only 2 or 3 of my co-workers who changes; the rest (5 or 6) all ride in their work clothes, and I see a lot of other people commuting in their work clothes. Riding at 18km/h (on the flat) is comparable exercise to walking, so most people won't sweat as long as they don't sprint out from stops. – DavidW Jul 29 at 20:38
  • @DavidW I tend to agree with you, but we are talking about 11km, for someone that now walks "20 minutes to get to work" and said his concern is "not being athletic enough to bike 6.8 miles". So, I am guessing the OP is of medium constitution, is used to walk 1/1.5 km at average pace, but is aiming at doing 11 times the effort. I see some light sweating involved, if none else from the pleasure of cycling :) . – EarlGrey Jul 29 at 21:02
  • My workplace has a gym where I can shower and change if I need to. We also can wear casual attire so I am not too worried about that. :) I'm glad to hear that 6.8 mi is doable for a beginner and I'll do a test-ride this weekend. Thanks! – Hannah Jul 29 at 22:03
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    @Hannah sorry I was wrong with the "doing 11 times the effort.": cycling is 3 times more effective than walking ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_performance ) so you will be doing roughly 3 times the effort (which is doable). Only concern is, since you are not used to cycle, the saddle may give you a sore bottom after half an hour or so. Please avoid too soft/plushy saddle: comfort is when the saddle support you, not when you sink in it. Some pain/fatigue is inevitable, but it gets better with time (IMHO,even riding only during the weekend, you will notice less pain after 3/4 weekends). – EarlGrey Jul 30 at 12:24
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There is only one way to check it. Try it.

As for factors, I am a bit overweight male of ~40, and not particularly athletic. I have cycled to (another) workplace routinely some 10 years ago, but not as of late.

I did ride just about this distance (~6.8mi) to my to work last summer. Urban commute, minor hills/slopes at some points, but mostly flat.

I was drenched in sweat, but not particularly tired. It should definitely be doable for a beginner, if not in hurry. It took me about an hour.

The only thing you might find out (as I did) is that for a day's ride for beginner one way could be about it. I didn't look forward to climbing on bike in the evening.

If you can have the logistics to cycle only one way when you feel like it, I think it'd be a splendid opportunity for you to keep fit and feel well. My workplace is somewhat remote and a bike/taxi combo per day is a bit prohibitive.

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I live in Lafayette, Colorado and commute 7.2 miles to Broomfield, Colorado six days a week. I work for a company that takes phone calls so I am not active at all. I do not have the car option, but that is a choice. My advice to you is that if you really have a mostly flat commute and a bike for the type of road you will be travelling, ride that bike! I started out of need and now I find myself taking my bike out on my days off just to ride. The problem I ran into, I bought a cruiser from Walmart, when I ride in a pretty non-flat terrain. I have improved physically, but the bike is getting harder and harder to ride because the terrain is so brutal for the cheap frame and hardware built into the bike. The bottom line is, if I can, not only ride but, enjoy riding 14.4 miles 6 days a week on a bike that is slowly falling apart, imagine how much you will love it on the right bike!

Keep riding and even though there will be days you get to work or home at the end of the day and collapse and say I am done, but you will find it is addictive as chocolate.

Congratulations on the new move.

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Bike it. It may suck at first if you're not used to it but it will get easier until you get to the point where it's too easy. Maintenance your bike more frequently so your drivetrain lasts and always have the essentials on you to fix your bike in a pinch. At the end of the day, this is not a very long or tough of a ride so it's just about your will to do this.

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