How to Talk Yourself Into Biking to Work

There's always that one co-worker — you know the one. You've driven or taken public transit to the office, frustrated by traffic and crowding, and they're already cheery and full of endorphins. They've biked to work, of course, and on some level, doesn't that sound nice?

We talk ourselves out of commuting by bike for all kinds of reasons: weather, safety, needing to look presentable on the job. But one factor is actually something we can change. Researchers at Penn State University have just released data showing that we can't accurately guess how long a trip will take, and thus we think we're making more work for ourselves than necessary.

Ninety-one percent of study participants couldn't accurately estimate how long it took to walk from their homes to campus; when it came to biking, the number was 93 percent. One caveat: The researchers used Google Maps for their "correct" estimates, and we don't have information about what pace each respondent was using for their guesses. But a lot more of it came down to self-confidence.

"We can have all the bike lanes in the world, but if you don't feel confident to go out there and bike, then you're not going to do it," said kinesiologist Melissa Bopp in a press release. "But luckily, self-confidence is a targetable thing. Providing education, encouragement, and resources can help with that. There are urban biking classes you can take, for example."

If you're looking to ditch the car or save on transit passes, consider giving the bike a try. Plan and ride your route on a weekend, and read up on safety tips, especially from other local bikers. If you're concerned about appearance, pack a change of clothes, dry shampoo, and baby wipes for when you arrive. Commuting by bike is great exercise and an even better way to clear your head. Take the uncertainty out of the equation and help yourself give it a try.