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  1. #1
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    Commute too short?

    So I've been commuting for a few weeks now, and riding 30-50 miles on the weekends recreationally. My commute is only 1.5 miles, and I am starting to wonder if it is even worth it to commute to work. With only a 3 mile round trip commute, I am not getting much benefit in terms of fun, co2, health, or cost savings, but I still get to work dripping in sweat when it is hot and humid (which I understand increases in frequency between now and September).

    I also have to go through the hassle of putting on a helmet, velcroing my pants leg, starting/stopping Strava (I'm going to track it, even 1.5 miles), locking up the bike, etc. It takes about the same amount of time to drive as it does to bike. It just seems like it may not be worth it to commute this short of a distance. What would you do?

  2. #2
    Senior Member SouthFLpix's Avatar
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    I would still ride the bike, but I would do so in work clothes at nice easy pace.

  3. #3
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    There is no law that requires you to take the most direct route.
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    Senior Member locolobo13's Avatar
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    When I first started commuting again the one-way trip was less than 3 mi. When I realized that wasn't enuff I started extending my ride home. On the other side you could extend your ride to work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SouthFLpix View Post
    I would still ride the bike, but I would do so in work clothes at nice easy pace.
    I do wear work clothes (hence why I'm sweating when I arrive. I can ride for two hours in bike shorts and Under Armour and not break a sweat). The slow pace is another issue altogether. I push myself pretty hard when I bike in traffic, I guess I feel obligated to go as fast as I can to avoid affecting traffic. I also think I am probably safer with a smaller speed differential between myself and the cars (more time for them to see me). But you're right I could probably bike in at 8mph and not break a sweat.

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    Senior Member bmthom.gis's Avatar
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    Go an easy pace! Or walk! Driving a mile and a half to work is stupid. Also, for that distance, you can forgo the foam head bumper....you'll be alright. You'll also stay a lot cooler.
    "All of the true things that I am about to tell you are shameless lies."

  7. #7
    Señior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    Mile and a half, I'd probably just walk. That's a great distance for a walk, and I find walks to be very meditative.

    Driving a car 1.5 miles on a regular basis is not good for the car.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

  8. #8
    born again cyclist Steely Dan's Avatar
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    1.5 miles? just walk.

    or, ride very slowly to work in work clothes so as not to break a sweat. bring cycling clothing with you. after work change into cycling clothing, take the long way home, and hit it hard.
    The first rule: if you're riding a bike and not having fun, then you're doing it wrong.

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    Senior Member jfowler85's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScotchMan View Post
    So I've been commuting for a few weeks now, and riding 30-50 miles on the weekends recreationally. My commute is only 1.5 miles, and I am starting to wonder if it is even worth it to commute to work. With only a 3 mile round trip commute, I am not getting much benefit in terms of fun, co2, health, or cost savings, but I still get to work dripping in sweat when it is hot and humid (which I understand increases in frequency between now and September).

    I also have to go through the hassle of putting on a helmet, velcroing my pants leg, starting/stopping Strava (I'm going to track it, even 1.5 miles), locking up the bike, etc. It takes about the same amount of time to drive as it does to bike. It just seems like it may not be worth it to commute this short of a distance. What would you do?
    Buy a 3 speed and take a leisurely route. Stop and get coffee on your way. When I started college I commuted about that distance in plain clothes. I shared your sentiments about preparing for a short commute - fighting morning rush hour traffic, trying to find even a crappy parking spot, and averaging terrible fuel mileage because my truck's cast iron block was just warming up by the time I almost to campus. And dealing with permits and parking patrol...ugh. My ride took just as long as driving, I got to be outside and I showed up to class a/o x3 when all the other lazy kids were struggling to get out of their rooms.

    It's what you make of it.
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    It takes about 100m of walking to lock or unlock a bike.
    For short distance riding, you don't need high speed, you eliminate as much faffing around as possible with a grab and go bike. All that messing around with lights, computers, pump, saddlebag, waterbottle, has to go.

  11. #11
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    I don't know, maybe it is my own insecurity, but I feel very guilty riding at a leisurely pace during morning traffic. There isn't really a different route I can take to work. I could take sidewalks but I find that to be very unsafe (based on the people that ride out in front of me all the time when I'm driving).

    I also don't really have time in the morning to stop and get a coffee (not to mention lack of coffee places). I could get up earlier but I am not really a morning person. I suppose I could walk but that is boring and would take a long time. I realize I'm coming off rather whiny here.

    I think I will just try slowing down a bit and see what happens. As far as taking a longer route home, it's easier to just go home and change and go for a ride, and I usually do that anyway as the girlfriend wants to get one in.

  12. #12
    Senior Member yankeefan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScotchMan View Post
    I don't know, maybe it is my own insecurity, but I feel very guilty riding at a leisurely pace during morning traffic. There isn't really a different route I can take to work. I could take sidewalks but I find that to be very unsafe (based on the people that ride out in front of me all the time when I'm driving).

    I also don't really have time in the morning to stop and get a coffee (not to mention lack of coffee places). I could get up earlier but I am not really a morning person. I suppose I could walk but that is boring and would take a long time. I realize I'm coming off rather whiny here.

    I think I will just try slowing down a bit and see what happens. As far as taking a longer route home, it's easier to just go home and change and go for a ride, and I usually do that anyway as the girlfriend wants to get one in.
    Are your roads really that narrow that you can't share the lane? Surely you can position yourself in such a manner that it allows you to go at your own pace while giving drivers sufficient room to overtake you.

    You get one in with the gf before you go riding? Wow, I'm in my early 20's and I don't think I have the stamina for that. I must know your secret.

  13. #13
    Vegan on a bicycle smasha's Avatar
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    as for CO2, short trips in a car are MUCH WORSE than long trips. the engine runs at peak efficiency when (among other things) it's warm. driving short trips, the engine doesn't have a chance to warm up, and the fuel efficiency is not so good.

    on my commute, i can take a direct route or one of several indirect routes, including some decent hill climbs. it's still a short commute, but i can turn it into a decent workout.
    "When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race." - H.G. Wells

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    Quote Originally Posted by yankeefan View Post
    Are your roads really that narrow that you can't share the lane? Surely you can position yourself in such a manner that it allows you to go at your own pace while giving drivers sufficient room to overtake you.

    You get one in with the gf before you go riding? Wow, I'm in my early 20's and I don't think I have the stamina for that. I must know your secret.
    Two lane roads, but there is traffic such that I am getting passed even when going fast. 35-45mph speed limit. No better routes.

    The trick is that my girlfriend goes pretty slow so I am not really pushing myself. I'll let you decide how to interpret that

  15. #15
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    I once had a 1.5 mile commute. Even though I didn't go hard and didn't have any real hills, I found that after a few months, my waistline had decreased and I had gained five pounds. I assume those were "good" pounds. I felt stronger. And when I was at work, I had my bike with me, so sometimes I would ride my bike to lunch.
    I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter. --Blaise Pascal

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  16. #16
    Senior Member baron von trail's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScotchMan View Post
    So I've been commuting for a few weeks now, and riding 30-50 miles on the weekends recreationally. My commute is only 1.5 miles, and I am starting to wonder if it is even worth it to commute to work. With only a 3 mile round trip commute, I am not getting much benefit in terms of fun, co2, health, or cost savings, but I still get to work dripping in sweat when it is hot and humid (which I understand increases in frequency between now and September).

    I also have to go through the hassle of putting on a helmet, velcroing my pants leg, starting/stopping Strava (I'm going to track it, even 1.5 miles), locking up the bike, etc. It takes about the same amount of time to drive as it does to bike. It just seems like it may not be worth it to commute this short of a distance. What would you do?
    A mile and a half--I would walk.

  17. #17
    I love the rolling hills. ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
    Mile and a half, I'd probably just walk. That's a great distance for a walk, and I find walks to be very meditative.

    Driving a car 1.5 miles on a regular basis is not good for the car.
    +1.
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
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  18. #18
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    You could argue that you'll get more exercise walking that distance than cycling it. But it's a small difference either way. I say do whatever is most convenient and fun.
    I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter. --Blaise Pascal

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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScotchMan View Post
    I do wear work clothes (hence why I'm sweating when I arrive. I can ride for two hours in bike shorts and Under Armour and not break a sweat).
    You have a solution yet you choose to ignore it. Why?

  20. #20
    commuter and barbarian scroca's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smasha View Post
    as for CO2, short trips in a car are MUCH WORSE than long trips. the engine runs at peak efficiency when (among other things) it's warm. driving short trips, the engine doesn't have a chance to warm up, and the fuel efficiency is not so good...
    What?

    So driving a long way produces less CO2? Or are you saying the car know it's going for a long drive and so skips the initial, less efficient performance?

    Are we to understand that your contention is that it's better for the environment to commute by bicycle if it's a short trip?
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buffalo Buff View Post
    You have a solution yet you choose to ignore it. Why?
    What?

  22. #22
    commuter and barbarian scroca's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScotchMan View Post
    What?
    I think he's suggesting you wear bike shorts and Under Armour since you say you don't sweat wearing that stuff.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by scroca View Post
    I think he's suggesting you wear bike shorts and Under Armour since you say you don't sweat wearing that stuff.
    Oh. Seems silly to me to compound the issue by adding more gear and hassle once at work; the whole issue is that I am hitting diminishing returns on the investment of time and energy because the ride is so short.

  24. #24
    Vegan on a bicycle smasha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scroca View Post
    What?

    So driving a long way produces less CO2? Or are you saying the car know it's going for a long drive and so skips the initial, less efficient performance?

    Are we to understand that your contention is that it's better for the environment to commute by bicycle if it's a short trip?
    "Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer multipurpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm." -- https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/planning.shtml

    "Vehicles are least fuel efficient and most polluting at the start of trips and on short trips. One reason for this is that catalytic converters (which reduce air pollution emissions) do not operate properly until they have warmed up. Trips of less than five kilometres generally do not allow the engine to reach its peak operating temperature." -- Fuel Consumption - Ten Top Tips for Fuel Efficient Driving

    "Short trips mean the engine doesn’t have a chance to warm completely, and this greatly effects fuel economy. Group trips together if possible." -- 30 fuel savers economy tips
    "When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race." - H.G. Wells

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by smasha View Post
    "Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer multipurpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm." -- https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/planning.shtml

    "Vehicles are least fuel efficient and most polluting at the start of trips and on short trips. One reason for this is that catalytic converters (which reduce air pollution emissions) do not operate properly until they have warmed up. Trips of less than five kilometres generally do not allow the engine to reach its peak operating temperature." -- Fuel Consumption - Ten Top Tips for Fuel Efficient Driving

    "Short trips mean the engine doesn’t have a chance to warm completely, and this greatly effects fuel economy. Group trips together if possible." -- 30 fuel savers economy tips
    So we all agree I should not be driving the 1.5 miles

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