When I signed up for this list, I got the "introductory profile" that many of you received. I haven't gone back to see how many are on this list, nor how many have answered the profile questions, but thought I would just for the charge of it. I'll assume you know the questions, but will try to make those questions clear in my answers.
1) I have come to describing myself as a cyclist who sometimes drives. I have a car (small truck, actually), and find it useful from time to time (hauling the kayak to the lake, for example). As the thing was paid off in 2000 or so, the cost of owning it is relatively low, although the current cost per mile is relatively high due to the amortization of annual fixed costs over fewer miles of use.
2) I'm not sure there was a specific starting point for this. I've ridden to work at all but a couple of my jobs at one time or another, although riding to work was done rarely with some jobs and frequently with others.
3) I choose to ride instead of driving for any number of small reasons, but the largest one is that I like myself best when I ride instead of driving. The financial benefits are there, the health benefits are there, and the socio-political benefit (smug not smog) is there, but it really comes down to being happier with myself for riding instead of driving.
4) Distance to work is always a challenge, although I don't consider fifteen miles out of reason. Other hurdles to being car-free are my own hobbies, and the difficulty getting the toys to the play places (kayak to lake, for example). There have been many times when it's been too darned convenient to own a small truck.
5) My family and friends are accustomed to my being something of my own person, so my cycling instead of driving has little negative effect on them. For some, it's considered positive effect.
6) Advantages of not being tied to a car include, but are not limited to: I feel better! I don't have to worry as much about gas prices as a direct hit on my budget (although they certainly affect my food prices...). It's less expensive to insure my car since I rarely drive it. I don't have to pay for a gym membership to go for an aerobic workout.
7) I am quite comfortable helping friends and relatives "problem solve" when it comes to figuring ways they can reduce their reliance on cars. I don't make their choices for them, however.
8) My daily commute takes about two hours of time, compared to roughly two-thirds that when I drive. I could, perhaps, use that time more wisely, but I choose to consider the extra time as time for my physical and mental well-being, and, as mentioned before, need not spend time in a gym to get the aerobic exercise.
9) The benefits are many--better emotional health, better physical health, better mood, better food (reallocating money saved by not using as much gasoline), friendships in the car-free and car-free light community, to name a few.
10) Ideally, cars are good for long-distance, non-scheduled transportation, or transportation for folks who have different abilities than those of us who are able-bodied. They can be useful, of course. However, for shorter-range, solo transportation without significant cargo requirements, bicycles rock.
I come to this as a bicycle user. Public transit is wonderful for many folks, but *for me* doesn't compare with the convenience and time efficiency of a bicycle (noting that public transit in your area may be much better than it is in my community). I *can* walk to several places that I need to visit, but it's easier to get there by bicycle in many cases, and just as quick as by driving in quite a few more cases (I'm a fan of the concept of the Clif Bar 2 mile challenge).
In the last two years, I've ridden over thirteen thousand miles on bicycles. For 2011, my commuting miles totaled a bit over 5500, my utility miles went a bit over 7000, and my total miles came to a bit more than 8000. I was, for several years, a one-thousand-miles-a-year cyclist. Riding instead of driving has really changed that.
Tom, aka bikeolounger
"If I can bicycle, I bicycle."
Sir David Attenborough
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