In my own mind, the bicycle is actually the safest way to get places: I get to park close to the building, so I'm not walking around by myself, I'm not going to be targeted by car thieves, I'm not fumbling around with keys in the dark (any fumbling I do is while wearing a helmet, which makes me feel a bit safer), and I can outpedal any troublemakers pretty easily.
These sorts of arguments won't work on the pro-car folks. Action is the only way to demonstrate that cycling is completely safe for people of any gender, even at night, in bad areas, and so on. Usually, a few late night trips by myself on a bike without incident is enough to "prove" to my concerned co-workers that I'll be just fine. If they're particularly concerned, I'll usually just not bring up the bike thing until I have sufficient "evidence" (repeated trips without any problems) to prove my point.
I'd try to avoid bringing it up. Leave the bike in a place where your boss won't see it. By the time she realises you're commuting by bike you can tell her you've been doing it for weeks, months or whatever. If she objects, tell her you'll go back to driving as soon as you get you're car repaired. Then just keep on cyclin'.
So, theoretically, you could get fired for using the wrong form of transportation. I'd hope that most employers wouldn't be that ridiculous.
Now that I think about it, I was turned down for a job once because I didn't own a car (and it wasn't pizza delivery.)
The exception is if the employee is a temp/casual/short-term contract worker, or perhaps if the employee is still in a probation period.
Having a car or not having a car has never even come up in any of my interviews. I think I was asked if I had my own reliable transportation in one interview, but that was with good reason because the job location was 35 km out in the country and there was no bus service. They were fine with the idea of cycling, and told me that several other people cycled too ... all they wanted to do was to check that I wasn't going to have transportation issues.
The term "Employment-at-Will" simply means that unless there is a specific law to protect employees or there is an employment contract providing otherwise, then an employer can treat its employees as it sees fit (including the assignment of demeaning tasks) and the employer can discharge an employee at the will of the employer for any reason or no reason at all. It is also up to each employer to decide if its employees may see their own personnel file or not.
Also the lower down the employment food chain, the more likely they are to treat you like crap.
After work, my coworker offered to put my bike in the back of his SUV and take me home, but I turned that offer down, and rode my bike home. It took 45 minutes.
I felt incredibly safe. The funny thing is that the two people who tried to get my attention were women, not men! As I was about to get on my bike and head to work, a woman tried to ask me for cab fare, saying she was stranded and a good christian woman, and she promised to give me her earrings. O__O After I left work, another woman tried to ask me to do her a favour, but I kept on riding. I heard her in the distance say "Fine!"
At worst, riding a bicycle at night makes me a moving target.
@Ekdog: I love your signature! :)
Ekdog I am not anti-car. I believe all types of vehicles can co-exist as long as everyone is patient and tolerant. (And, yes, I take the lane when I'm on a bike.) Plus, there are some things that can't be transported by bike like my elderly mother, my brother who's 275 if he's an ounce, and my daughter's belongings to and from college. So car-free is not an option but car light definitely is.
And Congrats on making the jump @nostalgic!
Your brother's situation resonates with me. I weighed about 275 when I started cycling. Some people who are heavier than that ride bikes also. So it can be done, if he wants to do it.
I've been asked "Do you have reliable transportation" before. Some jobs may require you to have use of a vehicle. Visiting clients or other offices, sometimes carrying large amounts of gear with you.