Monday, March 31, 2014

I cycle

Cycling to Work might sound easy but believe me it is not. So this is an email to support those that do:

Perceived Benefits

Enviromentally friendly:  Your way to work is zero carbon. If a typical commute is 10Km and a car is polluting at 150g/km, then that is a 15Kg per week reduction.

Exercise: You should normally walk 10,000 steps per day to stay fit.  Cycling can be a excellent and easy substitute.

Improved Alertness: You will arrive to work and home feeling refreshed and alive.  This corresponds to a more positive characteristic at work.  All good.

May not need to run a car: In the fortunate event that you only run a car in order to commute, you can now dispose of the car. This saves money and makes a tremendous saving on the environment  (far more than your Co2 reduction)

Parking: You are not taking up those precious car parking spaces, you only need a place in a secure bicycle store

Energy Savings: The energy saving in the transport your bicycle (say 30Kg max) instead of your car (over 1000Kg usually) to work and back is enormous. The straight cost to you is the petrol/diesel/fuel but behind this is the chain of savings that relate to refining and transporting the petrol, the people and processes spending their time to support this infrastructure, and the same principles (energy/ people/ processes/ infrastructure, servicing ..) to the motor vehicle that you could choose no longer to require full time.

Possible Issues

Run Over: Despite being careful it's possible to be run over.  Here is a personal example

It could rain or snow: On a road bicycle neither are good, especially for a long commute.  At the first sign of rain you could consider to leave for home or potentially get stuck.   The chances of a puncture/ flat grow exponentially in the wet.

Other factors:

You need a secure place to store your bicycle.  I left special secure locks at the client site.  However this would not detour any competent thief.

Lately I took part in a Corporate study to improve Bicycle security  (since there was a bout of thefts in 2013). After more than 2 months of waiting: Client said they did not have the money to improve security.

Just one reason why I'm not working there any-more.

Cycling Clothes
If you cycle any more than a trivial distance you will need special clothes and probably several sets, so that one set can be in the wash, whilst you wear the other.  Plus some for contingency.  And winter and summer clothe sets.  And waterproofs.

Cycle Clothes Storage
You will be hot and sweating on arrival to work.  Your Cycle clothes and equipment (for example Helmet) should be stored ideally in a ventilated changing room. Under your work desk or on a radiator are unacceptable places.  I wrote to my Client employer making this request. After waiting 3 years with no result I guessed they were not entirely serious about acting in a positive manner.

I would also comment that on repeated occasions some cycling clothes/ equipment was mysteriously disappeared.  I can only assume maliciously stolen.  What a laugh it must be to see how Marcus gets home without those items.

Work Clothes
A place to store your business clothes.  My client declined to provide any place

The Shower
For about 3 years there was 1 shower in a building with over 500 workers, and quite a few cyclists.  Then 2 more showers were built.   Not enough

Looking Weird
In most business environments walking to your Business Clothes store means a dash through the office in Cycle Clothing.   People think that you are weird.  And that is at best.

Added to that, and despite having a shower on arriving at work, at least one of the office bullies made repeated comments about /the smell/: cycling leaves you open to abuse in these other ways.

My high powered cycling lights last only 1 way to work.  So I needed to setup a charging infrastructure so lights were ready for the commute home. 

The Puncture
Besides keeping repair materials at work it means arranging some policy so that if you are late due to a Puncture, weather or some other calamity somebody could come to rescue you or at least realise that in such a circumstance you will be late arriving.

The Laptop
In my last job I needed 2 laptops.  My IBM one and the client one.  It was impractical to take 1 laptop on the 20Km cycle to and from work let alone 2.   But if I has a virtual machine or another laptop ...

(IBM let me virtualise my laptop so I had a copy laptop at home)

I contacted the client customer IT group to explain my position. No, we have rules and we are not interested in providing you with a second laptop.

How about if I buy a HP laptop (with my own money) and you put your build onto it

How about if I virtualise your laptop?

Just another one of the reasons why I don't work for this client.

After every return home it was my policy to check the bicycle.  And then clean the bicycle.  This adds to the total journey time.  Because an unmaintained bicycle, especially on the hilly descents in Lausanne could prove fatal.


In conclusion:  Cycling to work should be a commitment made both by the individual and client employer.  Employees should be congratulated and not harassed for choosing to cycle to work.