This story is adapted from a Q&A originally posted on the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living blog. Read the full article here.
When it comes to choosing an active commute to work, I didn’t have a choice. I have epilepsy and literally overnight went from driving regularly to realizing that I may never drive again.
When I moved to Austin, my epilepsy was under control and I drove everywhere because I thought, “You can’t possibly live in Austin without a car.” Then, suddenly, my epilepsy wasn’t under control and, legally, I wasn’t allowed to drive.
Once I was forced into actively commuting to work, though, I realized it can be done, especially if there are many options. Good public transit systems need a lot of options. So getting around exclusively by bus was hard — but once Austin B-cycle started, it gave me more flexibility.
Before this happened, I had biked just one time over the past 15 years. When I first started to actively commute, safety was my biggest concern. But I’ve realized that it really isn’t as unsafe as you might think. Friends have even commented that I’ve completely changed and grown more comfortable on the road.
I’m legally allowed to drive again, but I sold my car once I realized it was possible to live car-free in Austin.
Sometimes biking to work has even rescued me. On one occasion I had an early meeting and was on a bus when traffic downtown was absolutely horrible. I knew I wouldn’t make it on time, so I hopped on a B-cycle, zoomed past the traffic, and made my meeting.
But I love active commuting for lots of reasons. It naturally adds physical activity to my day, so I get at least 60 minutes of exercise without setting aside time for it. And, to be honest, when I’m commuting home during rush hour, I love the feeling of blowing by 100 to 200 cars on my B-cycle. I fly down Guadalupe and then pause on the bridge to enjoy the view of the lake. I love it!
Dan Taber, PhD, UT School of Public Health- Austin Regional Campus