Here's a study saying that exercise improves mental performance. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23795769

The health benefits of cycling are even known to outweigh the dangers of cycling.

When I say short trips, I'm referring to rides that last only around 30 minutes so round trips should exceed exercise guidelines which say we require at least 150 minutes a week. 450 minutes seem to be optimal. Short trips don't even seem like it's considered overexercising. Note that pros often train for more than 20 hours a week and they still seem very alert for sports that require concentration, and fresh.

People I know told me that biking is tiring and strongly recommend taking public transportation for commuting instead. The people include my mother, a co-worker of mine, a friend of mine who's into business, and my job coach. Their main concern is that being tired decreases work productivity. This implies that it's quite common to find biking to work tiring.

  • Is there a word missing from the title of this question? Commented Jun 7, 2018 at 5:15
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    How fit are the people you have asked?
    – Philipp
    Commented Jun 7, 2018 at 5:17
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    For those not in my immediate family, their fitness is probably average. I don't know their exercise routine. Their main form of transportation is driving. One's a college instructor so he probably stands a lot, one works with cars so there's lots of core muscle usage (like doing planks) in vehicles, standing, and quite a bit of walking around in the workshop, and the job coach has a desk job but also visits companies so there's some walking.
    – Brian
    Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 4:13

1 Answer 1


I feel like there's a fairly wide variety of potential answers here, so I'll throw a few of them out.

It's not easy at first

As someone who has picked up biking to work probably a half dozen times over the years, that first week or two can be agony or at least great frustration. You find yourself out of breath a few minutes in. You have to dismount to get up a small hill. You find yourself thinking that you're good as long as there's just one more mile, then you realize that you're only halfway along a four mile commute. Some of this is a matter of getting into shape. Some of it is building the right muscle memory (for biking, it's especially important to learn to rely more on a high cadence at a higher gear than to power through a lower gear due to various vagaries of how it expends energy and builds fatigue in the body). Frankly, a good bit of it is psychological; you may find that if you get distracted while riding, it all goes by much faster than you think.

Once you're in better shape, there are exigent circumstances

Once you're in decent shape, that commute will probably be pretty easy. But what about a day when it's unseasonably hot or cold? Or starts raining? Or you had one too many beers the night before or didn't sleep well? One could argue that these exceptional cases shouldn't discourage people, but when they do happen, they feel disproportionately discouraging.

There are additional stressors beyond the physical

Commuting via bike means you need to worry about upkeep. You need to pack supplies for repair, and if your bike does break down, you're now toting along a heavy weight on the walk to work, if you don't wind up having to call for transportation which may or may not accommodate the bike. And lastly, you have to deal with other people on the road whether it's a bike path (the cyclists are usually not that bad, but slow-moving crowds of pedestrians have a tendency to move unpredictably, and a collision with one of them is as likely to injure or kill you as running into a car) or the road (if you're lucky, you just have to deal with traffic, exhaust, and people passing a little too close. If you're unlucky, you get people yelling, people spitting, and occasionally people swerving to try to make you crash, or outright hitting you).

Even in good shape, there is a price to be paid

There was an excellent essay I read a few years back arguing that people should be willing to pay an extra $2000 for every mile closer a house was to their place of work. Time is money, as the saying goes, and more importantly, your time is worth something to you. When I ride public transportation, not only do I get to work more quickly (and return more quickly), letting me use that saved time productively, but I can also set an alarm on my phone and catch a catnap, or read a book, during my commute.

  • Does the benefit from the extra $2000 for each mile closer apply to all forms of transportation? If a faster bike costs $2000 and saved an equivalent of one mile, it seems worth it.
    – Brian
    Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 4:21
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    @Han-Lin: I don't have the time to dig it up, but the emphasis was actually on time (which becomes relateable to distance due to average travel time). If the bike gets you there more quickly (maybe more direct routes and no traffic jams) it would be worthwhile.
    – Sean Duggan
    Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 12:33
  • "crowds of pedestrians have a tendency to move unpredictably, and a collision with one of them is as likely to injure or kill you as running into a car" - are you really sure that collision with a pedestrian is as dangerous as a collision with a car? Commented Jul 28, 2018 at 7:05
  • I think I got that from my copy of Effective Cycling. Basically, the danger is from the bicycle suddenly being stopped, which happens with people as much as with cars.
    – Sean Duggan
    Commented Jul 28, 2018 at 8:45

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