What is the significance of the the number 96? I’ll get to that.
In the meantime, I’ll just say that reading blogs and cycling forum descriptions from bicycle commuters fascinates me. It is hard for me to imagine commuting to work by bicycle everyday. It’s not the weather or distance that is such a mental challenge. It’s having a job that would allow such a thing. It’s not the lack of showers, the challenge of finding a place to safely store the bike, or clothing logistics. It’s really none of the things most commonly discussed as challenges to the prospective bicycle commuter. But it is none-the-less incredible.
Many cycling advocacy groups, and individuals, promote using the bike for common everyday errands. They say that some extremely high percentage of trips by some extremely high percentage of people are less than 2 miles in length. Really? I have a decent imagination, but that’s hard for me to imagine. It might be true, but it is so foreign to my situation, I can’t fathom life in that way.
Reading accounts from those who live a car-free lifestyle makes me dizzy.
For me the the thing that makes it such a challenge is that my office is…well…Texas. And in case you haven’t looked lately, Texas is a fairly spread out area. My work provides me an opportunity to be quite familiar with most major metro areas. On a regular basis. Not only to I spend more hours than I’d prefer on the job, I also spend more time (if the whole percent of trips thing above is to be believed) than many do traveling. Which brings me back to the number 96.
Just recently my Ford pickup turned four years old. I took the number of miles driven and divided by the number of days I’ve owned it. The result is the average number of miles I drive my pickup everyday.
That means 96 miles every, single day. Weekends, holidays, days I’m sick, days I work from home, and days I’m on vacation. It includes days I only drive from my house to my “home” office. It includes the days that I only drive from some hotel to one of our offices in another city, and it includes the days I leave my truck parked at an airport when I fly out of town for a few days.
A lot of my miles are on the highway, but many are in town. Let’s say I average about 50 mph. That means I spend about 2 hours of every day I live in the cab of a Ford pickup.
Why am I out of shape? Why are my pants too tight? Where does my time go? Why is my diet so pathetic? Why am I always behind on things?
Why do I tend to crave slower-paced rides than I once did? Why am I so grateful for every moment on the bicycle rambling through the north Texas countryside?
Why does car-free living seem like a fairy tale to me?
96. That’s why. Every single day. For four years straight.