I am a bicycle commuter. Every trip I have taken to and from campus and around the city since I have been a resident of Saskatoon has been on bike.
I prefer it to cars when I’m taking a trip of 10 kilometres or less. I just don’t feel that I need a two-tonne piece of metal to carry my butt a couple of blocks.
Recently, I decided to run a little experiment during my afternoon commute between campus and my apartment in Sutherland. I was in the mood for a bit of the scientific method.
My experiment consisted of counting to see how many cars I encountered during my 10 minute bike ride and, out of those, how many were single passenger cars. I already knew what to expect roughly (hypothesis!) but I thought it would be fun nonetheless. I diligently counted cars (gathering of observable data!) during the ride, and I will admit I may have lost track or missed a few cars (experimental error!) but my results were interesting to me anyway.
Out of the 55 cars I encountered, meaning they drove past me going either direction, 45 were occupied by only one person. That means 81 per cent of the drivers I encountered during my 4.4 kilometre commute were alone (testable results!).
As I climbed the stairs to my apartment, I pondered how many of those people who were out driving on this gorgeous mid-September day were going five kilometres or less just like me?
Driving an automobile has become so ingrained in North American culture that it becomes hard to not think, “I need to run to the store really quick,” and then hop in the car and go.
It is also an easy solution to the fact that many people don’t want to get sweaty before they sit in a lecture or go to work. Well, I have been doing it now for a while and nobody has complained or moved away from me. Besides, that is a wimpy attitude. A little sweat is good for you.
When I decided to move to Saskatoon, I looked into the cycling community here and found that a decent number of people cycle, some even in the winter. I’m not disappointed so far. I see thousands of bikes per day parked across campus and yet during my commute I wonder why it can’t be more. If 45 out of 55 cars have only one driver, how many of them can turn their 10 to 20 minute commute into an excellent leisurely activity that burns calories on their way to and from work?
I may be an exception because I love to ride bikes. I would love it if everyone in Saskatoon loved riding as much as me, but I understand that isn’t a realistic idea. It just isn’t for some people, I suppose. However, if you are an active person and like being outdoors and exercising, I highly recommend it.
Give it a shot and come find me. I’ll be riding around town with my green helmet, flashing night-time lights and a big smile.
photo Jonathan Maus