Unlock Your Freedom With a Folding Bike

Ditch crowded busses, trains, and traffic by joining the folding bike crew

I know what you’re thinking: folding bikes are goofy. They look odd, and only trendy photographers in London can ride them. I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong.

Folding bikes are an incredibly versatile tool for traversing an urban area.

Downsides of traditional commuting:

Photo by VisionPic .net from Pexels

The American daily commute is far too long. Workers from America’s largest cities average about sixty minutes traveling between home and work each day.

City driving woes

An inbound fender bender can ruin your day; the same goes for the dreaded weekday blizzard. The cost to park a car downtown can be obscene in some cities. Not to mention the cost of a car payment, insurance, maintenance, and gas.

Driving from the suburbs increases gas use and time. In some cities drivers spend 60+ minutes each way on their commute.

Crowded and unreliable public transit

Urban public transit commuters have to deal with crowded busses, long wait times on the subway, or trains that never arrive. While it’s much cheaper than driving, a monthly transit pass will run $60-$115 in most cities.

Long suburban commutes

When trains from the suburbs are late, or stuck, riders are left with few options. The remaining choices are a long uber, or bus ride. The feeling of helplessness while stuck on a train is enough to make anyone wish for a new mode of transport.

Why I love biking to work

Photo by Alex Powell from Pexels

I can’t quite explain it, but there’s a feeling of freedom while riding to work every day. When my commute was bike-only, I felt connected to the city in a way that just doesn’t happen inside a metal box with wheels. In addition to being fun, my bike commute also became incredibly predictable.

Biking to work is predictable

My bike-only commute allowed me to be at work in 18 minutes with light traffic. During rush hour it took 22 minutes. I’d fly by all the cars waiting at red lights because I got to skip to the front of the line in the bike lane. Cars hated it. I didn’t realize how good I had it until I had to Uber home one day.

Driving home was a drag. My 22-minute rush hour bike commute turned into a 45-minute car ride- and I didn’t get to burn any calories or enjoy the fresh air.

A consistent commute provides tremendous peace of mind. It beats the hell out of running down the street to catch the bus after a transfer. Though occasionally I had setbacks.

Flat tires are more manageable on a folding bike

About 2 times per year I get a flat tire, which can also ruin my day- especially on a full-sized bike. A flat on a full-size bike leaves 2 options: fix it quickly, or find an SUV to haul you the rest of the way. Neither is great.

A flat on a folding bike leaves more options: fix it quickly, call an Uber, or hop on public transit. Flexibility in a city commute is key. Not all Uber drivers are cool with putting down all the seats so you can throw a dirty road bike in the back. But most won’t mind a folded bike in the trunk.

Folding bikes fix the “last mile” issue

Traditional public transit can be great- depending on where you work live and work. Virtually any location metropolitan area is within 1 mile of public transit. But what if both your home and workplace are 1 mile from transit? That’s a lot of walking.

The average 1-mile walk takes 15–20 mins. Cycling cuts the time down to 4–6 mins per mile (and a lot less sweat).

Cities across the country have implemented bike share programs; Citi Bike, Divvy, Capital BikeShare, and Lime Bike are some key players. These programs are great, and we need more of them, but they don’t solve the “last mile” issue. Sometimes it can be a long walk to the nearest bike share station, and there may not be any near your workplace.

A folding bike is the perfect solution for the last mile. No more walking to a bike station, uncertain if you’ll scoop up a bike. No 20-minute walk from the bus stop to work. Simply get off the bus, unfold the bike, and ride to work in under 6 minutes.

Fear of theft disappears with a folding bike

An undervalued benefit of riding a folding bike is decreased risk of theft. Standard bikes usually get locked up outside unless your workplace has a secure place to store bikes- which is not common in the US.

A folding bike comes inside to your desk. You won’t need to worry if your bike lock is currently being hacked apart down on the street. You can work in peace, knowing that your bike is safe at your desk.

Folding bikes let you explore outside the city

Folding bikes are great for adventurers. If I wanted, I can put my folding bike in a suitcase, hop on a plane, and go explore another city. That’s not my style, but people do it.

I have used my folding bike for visiting the suburbs. I used to live 3 miles from the train to see my parents. It took me 30mins on a bus to get to the train station, then I’d sit on another 35 minute train, finally I’d hitch a ride from the train station to my parents’ house. This took me 1.5–2 hours. On a folding bike, I do it in 60 minutes or less. 15 minutes of riding to the station, 35 minutes on the train, and 6 minutes to the house.

The downsides of folding bikes

As much as I like to brag that folding bike commutes are worry free, that’s not always the case.

Maintenance is still essential, and costs add up If you ride regularly, things like the chain, brake pads, and tires will need to be properly maintained and replaced when needed. A yearly tune-up is crucial as well. These items all cost money. Maintaining a bike is exponentially cheaper than maintaining a car, but it’s not free.

Some weather sucks for biking

Photo by Genaro Servín from Pexels

I ride year round, and it’s not always fun. I typically don’t find the temperature to be an issue. With good gear, I can ride in sub-zero temperatures. However, precipitation can ruin my day.

An 80-degree day is great, but when rain starts pouring, it’s not a good look to show up soaking wet. Even worse is rain below 45 degrees- this is the absolute worst for bike commuting. I try to find other ways to commute in these situations, but sometimes I just have to tough it out.

You can’t take it everywhere

Not all situations are ideal for a folding bike. A very crowded train is not the best place to haul a folding bike. You may have difficulty bringing it to a cafe for lunch, or meeting a friend for drinks.

Some situations just require you to arrive without a folding bike in your hand.

Folding bikes are ideal for urban dwellers

Owning a folding bike offers flexibility to those living in an urban area whether it’s for traveling to work, or just getting around town. It offers a bridge for those who live far from public transit, and is less cumbersome than owning a full-sized bike.

Owning a folding bike has transformed the way I move around the city. I can now travel anywhere in the greater Chicago area without breaking the bank, all thanks to my folding bike.

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Nick Duncan

Nick Duncan

24 Followers

I’m a physical therapist, bike commuter, high handicap golfer, and amateur writer. Just trying to get a bit better each day.