A few days ago, I left the CERN Meyrin site on my bicycle at the same time as the tram towards Geneva and managed to be only a few minutes behind when it arrived at my stop. The next night, the tram was still sitting at CERN when I left it in my dust, easily beating it home. The total distance door to door is approximately 7 km with only a few hills, and the route is marked for bikes on almost the entire path (except for a terrifying part over the freeway).
If I’m not racing a tram, it still only takes me about 30 minutes one-way. Factoring in the time it takes to walk from my apartment to the tram stop, the wait for the tram, and the walk from the tram stop to my office, cycling only takes at most an extra 20 minutes a day. Or as I see it, I give up 20 minutes for an hour of exercise.
By the way, I know it’s said a lot but if you get on a bicycle, WEAR A HELMET. Even if the ride is <5 minutes. Even if you think you’ve done that same route umpteen million times. I know of so many people who have gotten into accidents around CERN, most notably at the giant round-a-bout of death coming out of the small French town of Saint-Genis-Pouilly. I’m no exception…I got into one a few years ago while still a grad student. In my case I was already at CERN, turning right at such a high speed that my back tire slid out when I tried to avoid a car (and to this day, I still slow down more when turning right than left). It was so fast, my hands didn’t even have time to leave the handle bars when I face-planted into the road….aaaand I wasn’t wearing a helmet. If you DON’T want to see what an x-ray of a nose broken in two places looks like, then DON’T click here. At least I got a good week or two of “you should’ve seen the other guy” jokes out of it.
Now I find that if I just take it easy, and ride under the assumption that cars can’t see me at all and thus always have to look out for them, I feel pretty safe. Biking has tons of health benefits, especially for people like us who sit in front of a computer all day, and I’m always in a great mood by the time I get to work. Plus I can stop and see cool things like this along the way:
There’s a huge biking culture at CERN too….at least four people on my office floor alone regularly bike to work. CERN sponsors a “Bike to Work Challenge”, where groups or individuals compete for honor to see who can rack up the most kilometers between March and the end of the year (I just started not too long ago, so I’m still at the “Sneaky Muon” level).
Biking is really the best thing ever. Everyone should do it! And if you’re driving and see a cyclist on the road, give them some room!
– Showers at CERN (pdf)