I have decided that until it gets too icy to capably ride my bike (and no, I am not sure how icy that means), I will continue to use it as my primary mode of transportation this winter; to work, to friends' places, bars, wherever. No public transit for me. I'm not going to be the CTA's bitch, waiting at frozen bus stops, shelling out hundreds of dollars a month in passes, delayed in overcrowded subway cars with way too many assholes reading E-books (that is short for electronic book. A book that needs electricity. Oh my god). But while I admire my aplomb (ask anyone, I am full of aplomb), there are plenty of reasons why riding my bike to work could very well end in a menagerie of horrible scenarios. So, like any level headed adult (or any teenager that watches too many sitcoms), I am going back to the age old way of settling a debate (no, I'm not going whip it out), I'm going to make a pros and cons list.
PRO - RIDING YOUR BIKE IS MORE FUN
Sure, I am kind of sick of riding up and down Diversey every day, but nothing is as horrible as the daily exercise in sadism that is riding the train during morning rush hour. It's just impossible to not hate everybody. I know, I know, we are all doing the same thing, getting to work, but being jammed up, shoulder to shoulder with dozens of unhappy, equally hostile strangers, it's just bad for anyone's morale. Oh great, now this asshole has a backpack. Fucking fantastic.
This is slightly off topic but who gives a shit (I don't, it's my blog), bu
t riding the CTA makes me realize just how many people are obsessively and horrifically attached to their smartphones, E-books, 3G whatever the fuck technology. People cannot even go a train ride anymore without checking their email, reading the news (they have newspapers for that), and whatever the fuck. I know I sound like every other asshole when I complain about this, but it is really disconcerting to me as a social creature. Maybe I wouldn't despise you so much at 8:30 in the morning on a train if you weren't on a train at 8:30 in the morning looking up your horoscope. You can't go the 30 minute commute without it? Ride a bike or something, look at some trees.
PRO - LESS TIME THAN THE CTA
I am not a waker upper. It is not easy for me. When people tell me they have to coffee before they leave for work it baffles me. How do you have time to make coffee in the seven minutes from when you get out of bed and when you leave the door? That's about all I allow myself in the morning (it's all I can get after I've hit the snooze alarm seventy fucking times). I get up, piss/brush my teeth (multi-task bitch), change, and I am out the door. If I am lucky I will drink a big glass of water before I'm out. So the fact that riding my bike takes half the time it does riding the bus or the train is a big deal to me. I need every extra second of sleep I can get in those early morning hours. I cannot stress this enough, I am horrible at things in the morning.
CON - I AM PROBABLY GOING TO KILL MYSELF
It's true. It's not that I'm not careful, it's just that I don't think I'm a great city bicyclist (also I'm not that careful). I always do my best to stick as close to the right as I can, and I try to maintain a look-both-ways-keep-my-head-up-whatever-sorta attitude, but that ain't gonna cut it forever. I zone out, I try to make lights I shouldn't only to have to break too hard, I am bad at making left turns, I go way too far out of my way to avoid puddles (because wet, gross) and I've already been involved in at least four biking accidents in the last six months. None were very serious (I literally just knocked on wood), and not all of them were even my fault, but that kind of dumb luck can only last so long. Think about how many times I almost got into accidents and didn't? It's a the-house-always-wins-sorta deal (and this has been a I-like-to-use-hyphens-sorta paragraph).
Partial results of being doored (part two). Also, just an excuse to show off my butt. Eh?
PRO - IT IS CHEAPER
A seven-day pass costs, I believe, 23 dollars American. That is 92 dollars a month. A bicycle, once already purchased 6 months ago, is free. There.
CON - WIND
If you are taking the train or the bus, you are still going to be cold. You have to walk there, and you have to wait outside. If you ride your bike, sure, you are going to be colder, but it's never that big of an issue if you are properly bundled because you will heat up fast once riding. But. But, but, but. Nothing fucks a biker in the face like the constant onslaught of cold, biting wind. Wind will make it literally impossible to get anywhere. Where it makes walking wholly unpleasant, it makes biking torture. Just even thinking about it makes me feel sad and angry. Riding against the wind is like being picked on by a bunch of older kids at school, except these older kids can control the weather. And they hate you.
PRO - IT IS GOOD EXERCISE
What? I care about how I look. Sue me.
CON - BIKES DEMAND UPKEEP
Even though on a day to day basis the CTA is a far more engrossing fiscal endeavor, you don't have to pay for the bus if it breaks down. If you fuck something up on your bike (which I do. Often) you have to pay for it. If you're lucky it is just a ten dollar trip to The Bike Lane for a flat fixer-upper, but if you fuck up your bicycle real good, it could possibly be an entire months worth of CTA passes to fix that bad boy. Personally, I've never been good with upkeep on any of my personal belongings. I owned a car for over three years and got the oil changed twice. Maybe three times? I hate it when I get a flat on my bike, or god forbid, something worse happens to the entire wheel or the frame. I feel so helpless. And, if you haven't noticed, I'm cheap (or kind of poor? Both?). I hate having to shell out the bucks everything goes wrong on my bike.
So, let's analyze, shall we (If analysis sounds boring to you, take your pants off, it will be more exciting)? Overall, based on numbers, the Pros win. There are more reasons to bike than to train it. Of course, the very serious point of my safety always being in peril SHOULD account for much, much more. But it doesn't. I don't ride my bike because I am looking for some thrill or excitement or way to rebel. I do it because it is faster, it is nicer, and it is cheaper. If those aren't three reasons to do something I don't know what are. I will, I promise, do my best (as I've always done) to be safe and not get killed or any more seriously injured while I ride my bike, but, well, I'm just not gonna stop doing it.
There will, of course, be a time very soon (within the next week or two I imagine, actually) when I physically will be no longer able to ride my bike the 4 miles down Diversey I am so used to. it will be too icy. So either way, in the end, the Cons win. Everything I said about prefering riding a bike better will mean nothjing when I can't physically do it, but still need to be able to get to work at a certain time.