Look. This is a website about cycling. So an article which pitts cycling against any other method of transport is bound to be... um... completely impartial.
We're here to have a giggle and a groan at the benefit of us enlightened folk on two wheels, and to the detriment of every driver who has ever undertaken us. Let's do this.
Round 1: Effort
I don't wear a heart-rate monitor, but I'd gauge my daily cycling effort at 'medium' (that's the technical term). I get a little bit of a pant on and hope that my heart doesn't explode. It makes me feel better because I don't have time for much other exercise in my life. Unless you count the arm muscles I've been honing by spooning cake mix into my mouth.
But here's the beauty of a cycle commute: you can put as much or as little effort into it as you like. You can roll into work without so much as a sweat patch, or you can use your commute as part of your training plan for the season.
When it comes to public transport, the fact you have to go further than an inch from your door in order to find a bus stop or train station feels like a blasphemous notion to a cyclist.
You also have to make sure you have the correct change available for whatever journey you wish to make. If you commute by car, you have to fill up the tank with petrol. I understand that bikes need to be maintained... but there's something about the sweatiness of being inside a large people-transporting box that makes the thought of all these extra bits super stressful. I feel suffocated just thinking about it.
Round 2: Time
Cycling is SO QUICK. Seriously. Look at this amazing data set by the Guardian. Pick a point within the M25 and it will show you just how massive the area in which it's quicker to cycle to than get public transport is. Aside from a couple of weird places (I'm looking at you, Stratford), it's much better to ride in the big smoke.
And the same is true of most urban areas, because no matter how many bus lanes there are in a place, that bus still leaves at a pre-arranged time that's NEVER when you need.
If you live in a rural area or you are a considerable distance away from the office then yes, a car may get you to work quicker. That is correct. But we're going to refuse to count this 'victory' of yours, drivers, because you look so smug about it.
Winner: Cycling again, on account of me saying so.
Round 3: People
A lot of cyclists are pretty awful people. But as a percentage, I reckon it's the same as the amount of drivers who are awful.
When some self-righteous dude tells you that you're not wearing enough hi-visibility clothing, or when someone undertakes you in a terrifying way, it is possible to have a moment of doubt.
But we've also got loads of awesome, slightly mental people in our cycling gang too. Namely loads of hippies who want to save the world, and Dutch people. The Dutch are cool.
Shall we begin with Mister Armpit or Ms Gaseous? The proximity of my face to other peoples ANYTHING on public transport is alarming. And I try my very best to understand. It's the morning. You've just had a coffee. I get it. But the air con has just broken on this train carriage and... well... IT'S TOO MUCH.
Winner: Yep, it's cycling.
Round 4: Cost
I am set to borderline bankrupt myself come the new year when I pour all the money I've ever had (and not had) into purchasing a new bicycle. And then maybe some new wheels, because the excellent ones that come with it aren't quite perfect. And a saddle. Maybe a premium bottle cage.
This stuff, along with regular maintenance, certainly adds up. But the Guardian reckons that "apart from giving up smoking, there is no other change to one’s daily working pattern that can produce such large savings." And we'd (obviously) be inclined to agree.
You know better than anyone how much you spend on transport. Because that number is ingrained on your inner eyelids. You see it every night before you go to sleep. You get angry thinking about how all you get in return for that price-tag is misery. You know all this.
But let's think about the health costs too: not cycling to work means your missing out on some awesome benefits. In particular, more years in which to spend the money you've been saving. A Danish study of 30,000 people over nearly 15 years found that cycling to work, even when accounting for other exercise completed by participants, lowered the risk of mortality by 40%.
Winner: We're gonna go for cycling.
Round 5: Illness
I'm a bit of a wimp. I tend to be sick often, and I let everyone know about it quite loudly. Cycling has definitely improved my overall health, but when I get the sniffles I have to give my body a couple of days off from riding to let it recover.
Rainy weather isn't great for coughs and colds either. My grandmother would shudder at the thought of me wearing my damp cycling socks all day.
Nothing compares to the all-consuming fear of sitting down next to the leader of the Winter Bus Coughing Symphony. The stress of being beside a sniffler is enough to make you sick in itself.
There's always a certain week of the year when everyone looks like a zombie and you get worried you've accidentally stepped into a scene from Dawn of the Dead. ... Brains.
Winner: Anything else. Only joking! But seriously, it's cycling. It's always cycling.
Round 6: Pain
I'm currently so stiff that I have the gait of an 80 year old with osteoporosis AND haemorrhoids. And that's because I've had a few days OFF from cycling.
Similarly, if you push yourself too hard on the bike, that opens up a whole other world of thigh/calf/mental pain.
Yes, cycling and suffering can go hand in hand. But for many (see earlier comment re: The Dutch), cycling is a normal activity that does not involve any physiological stress. Take it easy, ladies and gents.
Have you ever had a slightly angry commuter stab the heel of their umbrella into your toe as a punishment for accidentally brushing them on the shoulder at rush hour? YOU KNOW NOTHING OF PAIN.
Winner: Cycling, cycling, cycling.
Round 7: Happiness
I wanted to entitle this final section 'drafting buses vs drafty buses'. Alas, it was just too cheesy. But it's a good encompassment of all that's right about cycling and wrong with commuting.
The human body likes to go fast. It's exciting. And when that speed is a product of our own effort, it's satisfying.
Also: sometimes cyclists let me high five them at the traffic lights. What a wonderful world.
I'm sure spiritual enlightenment can be achieved in spite of taking a car, bus, train or tube to work. It's possible. But why work at it so much harder, when cycling is there for you?
Come with me, public transport and car-based commuters. I'll show you a world of pure, cycling imagination.