Well it all started around 4 years ago, after finally finishing up uni I ventured out and got a job. Whilst at uni I would happily drive everyday, it was only 10-20 minutes drive in peak hour, driving to work was a different story. I'm an engineer, finding a job in my local neighborhood wasn't really an option, so the 40 minute twice daily commute by car begun. That wasn't too bad then, but 4 years later it had blown out to an hour or more. Now I like driving and I like cars, but the stop start traffic was down right frustrating. This was only further compounded by meeting my awesome girlfriend who lived further out of the city than what I did! If I left work at 5:30, I'd be lucky to make it back to her place by 7:00. And in quite the state, frustrated by my slow progress, bad drivers, slow trucks, stopping buses, trams being given priority/own lanes, pedestrian lights, boom gates, cyclists, right turning vehicles, drivers that overtake on the left through car parks only force their way back into traffic. Really, you name it – and it pissed me off. There had to be an alternative.
I have tried public transport numerous times, it was ok – just took two hours each way! The whole home->bus->train->bus->work thing just doesn't work. As for cost, I live out in zone 2 – about $10 a day, which is more than what it was costing me in fuel. I do like the concept of public transport, its implementation just needs a little work.
Change to work arrangements, the motivation behind this went something like “why leave at 5:30 when I can work an extra 2 hours for free and drive home after peak hour”, doesn't make a lot of sense but I really despise traffic. While I did get a lot more work done, it did result in a poorly balanced lifestyle, eventually perpetuating itself to the point where 60hr weeks were becoming the norm.
Running, no not for commuting purposes – just exercise. I came to the realization that at age 27 I could no longer, eat whatever I wanted with little to no exercise and expect to maintain a healthy appearance. So I took up running after work to try and replace those 2 hours of work I was doing to miss peak hour. Also started a semi-diet, nothing serious, just drinking low carb beer, rice crackers instead of potato chips, etc. Was only doing a 5km run/walk twice a week, but still this proved too much for my knees (I believe poor shoes, bad choice of running surface were to blame).
Only after all this did I actually consider the good old bicycle for commuting purposes, and after much research I decided it was the future. There were a few roadblocks however, my fitness level would simply not deal with the approx 27km distance each way – this was actually pretty easy to deal with, just drive halfway. The biggest issue was my smoking, so it had to go. Riding was actually a big help, for the first two weeks of quitting the only time I felt anywhere normal was when I was on a bike.
After riding 14km out of my 27km commute for the last month the benefits really start to show;
-I save around $25-30 a week in fuel
-I have gone back to drinking the beer I like
-I seem to be able to eat anything (and in large quantities) without gaining weight
-Can leave work at 5:30 and be home by 6:30.
-I get an hour and a half of cardio every day
-Now get home in a relaxed state
-Sleep much better
Guess I'd just like to say thanks to the BV community and all bicycle enthusiasts for presenting such a positive viewpoint full of encouragement. Oh, and sorry about the long post.