Commuter Story: Commuting in Atlanta

Ed – This story from Chris of Atlanta, GA.
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My commuting by bike story starts like many others. My car broke down. What I believed to be the need for a simple tune-up repair evolved over the course of two weeks into a warranty fight with the dealership. I started commuting by bike to get back and forth to work until my car was fixed and have discovered all kinds of great benefits from riding. (my car is still in the shop, and I could care less) I have 02 Jamis Hybrid mountain bike that has served me well in the casual ride department and is working great so far as a commuter (although it is a little heavy). I ride my bike three miles to the MARTA rail station, ride MARTA to the closest stop and bike the rest of the way (another two miles). I get more exercise in the rail station by carrying my bike up and down long stairs to and from the platforms. While my actual ride time is not great, Atlanta is fairly hilly and most of my riding is up or down a hill. When I get to work I am awake, my metabolism is humming, and I feel great.

The real challenge for me has been getting to work and still dressing in suit/tie every day. As a lawyer, I don’t have the luxury of sitting around in shorts all day. I have to dress professionally most days and that requires some forethought and planning. Here is how I am doing it. Once a week, my wife brings a load of dry-cleaned shirts to work. I keep three pairs of pants, one sport coat and two pairs of shoes/belts at work. On the bike, I take a towel, underwear and whatever else is required for the day. When I get to work, I go to the office gym (a shower is essential), work out just one body part with the weights, and then shower. At the end of the day, I put back on the same clothes I biked in on, pack up the worn dress shirt and I am on the bike headed home.

Here is a partial list of benefits I have experienced since I started cbb:

  1. Exercise – for the first time in a long time I am getting meaningful daily exercise which is productive as well!
  2. Money Savings – I spend $52 a month on MARTA pass, when my car is fixed, I will sell it and save over $400 per month.
  3. No After Work Drinks – I used to stop on the way home and have a couple before getting home, it was expensive and bad for me, now I ride home and even if I wanted to get a drink I am too sweaty to go anywhere but home. I am exercising and saving money!
  4. Stress-Relief – I have experienced that wonderful calm you get when you are freshly exercised. This is important in my field where stress kills!
  5. Positive Esteem – It feels great to know that I am not wasting money on gas, polluting the environment with smog, noise, etc.

These are just a few of the things I have noticed in the weeks I have been commuting by bike. There are lots of unknowns, but I suspect I can make this a real change in my lifestyle that will have all kinds of wonderful benefits.

Atlanta is a car heavy city and my commute takes me into the heart of Midtown – the financial center. I often ride on the sidewalks because there is no room on the road and I am not ready to ride fully in traffic just yet. I am taking it slow, I have a wish to get to work safely – not a death wish. I have been shocked to see how few people actually commute by bike in this town. MARTA is great for bikes you can put them on the train or bus for no additional charges. If more people knew how much bang for the buck they would get out of commuting by bike they would do it.

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