City Cycling Commute
by Nick Marson
The after-dinner conversation caught my wife off guard.
"So, I’ve been thinking about the commute to my new job," I began.
"Oh yeah? Now that we’re both working downtown, aren’t you looking forward to carpooling together?" she asked.
"Welllll.....actually....I’ve been thinking about riding a bike to work."
"Really? This is another fad, right?"
And so began my quest to prove to my wife that I was all-in on my latest "fad". After eight years of commuting via car to my last job on the West side from our home in Fall Creek Place Neighborhood, I wanted to switch up my routine and take advantage of how close we live to downtown. What surprised me the most about biking in Indianapolis was just how accommodating our great city is.
A few highlights of what I’ve learned so far.
Waking Up – As a daily morning coffee drinker, I didn’t expect biking to change my caffeine intake. Since riding to work I've noticed I don't NEED coffee as much. Somehow, the extra exercise and fresh air combo satisfies my caffeine cravings and wakes me up. At the end of the day the ride home is a great way to blow off steam from the workday and get into "home" mode.
"What if it rains/snows/sleets/you get a flat/you get struck by lightning/giant crabs invade Indy?" - These were all questions that I had pondered, and guess what? I easily found answers to almost every question! Freak hail storm? Jump on the bus and ride it out. All IndyGo buses have bike racks! Need a tune up, repair, or a new bike? The Indy Bike Hub at City Market is home to one of Bicycle Garage Indy's (BGI) bike shops. These folks are very, very good at what they do and have already aided/educated me a few times. If you find yourself stranded on the road, Central Indiana Commuter Service offers a free Emergency Ride Home service after you register with them.
Route Options - Living in the city, you have many options. With 63.89 miles of on-street bike lanes (and with 200 more miles planned over the next 12 years) the City of Indianapolis has done an awesome job creating great bike lanes in and out of the city with mixed-use trails like the Monon Trail and the Cultural Trail. Check out this video to find out what to expect while biking and what the lines and symbols on the streets mean.
Sweat Equity - One of my favorite benefits of commuting via bike is avoiding the car parking fees. The City and many downtown businesses have installed a substantial number of bike racks in, and around, the downtown area. You can find a Google map of these here. Interested in parking your bike indoors? How about getting a shower and getting "freshened up" for work? Indy's got a solution for that! Check out the Indy Bike Hub. My YMCA membership gives me a secure place to park my bike along with a locker, showers with towel service, and a great way to meet other like-minded, two-wheeled cog crazies. The Indy Bike Hub is also home to INDYCOG, an Indianapolis Bicycle Advocacy group. They just hosted their annual Two Wheels One City event, which was a real blast and organized Bike to Work Day this year. Lastly, you might ask your employer to consider offering a benefit to employees who bike to work via the IRS' Commuter Bike Benefit. And did I mention you won’t need to pay $3.70 per gallon for gasoline?
As you can tell, my biking “fad” has turned into a welcomed lifestyle change. Hope you’ll join me so I can see you two-wheeling on the road soon!
Nick Marson lives in Fall Creek Place with his wife, Christine, and their three furry children, Milo the Pug, Zoe the Peke-Pug, and Ali-Cat. He tweets as @NickyScarfa and posts his bike to work activity on a Google Calendar here.