In many cities, more and more people are using bicycles as the main form of transportation to get to work. According to The Atlantic Cities, there was a 70 percent increase in bike commuters between 2000 and 2009. Many cities, even Wichita, KS,are including extensive networks of bike lanes and paths in their city development plans. The Federal Bike Commuter Benefit allows a cyclist to earn $20 per month if the bicycle is the primary means of commuting to work (if part of the employer paid benefits package). In my mind, there is no doubt that the future is heading to a more biking friendly country and more people will be commuting by cycling.
In a country where the gas prices are always a favorite topic, there is one really good way to stay out of this conversation. That is…you guessed it…cycling! While cycling, you get infinite miles per gallon. It doesn’t matter if gas is at $2 a gallon or $4 a gallon. It’s all the same to you; you have your healthy legs (and nice looking calves). Let’s say your work is 5 miles away from home. That means you’ll be riding your bike 50 miles per week, saving you almost $8 a week in gas (assuming 20mpg and $3.15 per gallon for gas). That’s $32 a month or about $400 a year. If you are cycling 10 miles each way, that’s $800 a year. 15 miles…$1,200 a year plus a great workout every day.
The other impact of bicycle commuting to work is the positive effect on the environment. According to Cleaner and Greener, the average individual causes about 27 tons of CO2 to be released in the air per year, and about 65% of that is from transportation alone. We have the ability to reduce this dent by taking a simple step and substituting a bicycle for a car.
Other Cost Savings
When a bicycle replaces are car, there are many other cost savings. Let’s assume that you can sell one car (whether it is your only car or one of two or three with your family). I recently looked at the total expenses of my car, and the actual cost of the car was astonishing. I have spent a little over $10 per day on my car since the date of purchase, and this is factoring in a year and half when I was outside the country and not using the car.
One of my goals this year is to sell my car. I am currently not in a good position to do so, as I am living in a small town with no public transportation from city to city. However, I plan to set myself up for this situation in 2013. The savings on the car will come from insurance ($408/year), registration ($100/year), oil changes ($60/year), depreciation ($1,483/year), repair/maintenance work ($372/year) and gas ($1,300/year). This totals $3,723 per year in savings by simply not owning a car. I will incur more expenses when I need to take public transportation, but most of these savings would go straight to my bank account.
Let’s be honest…we could all work out a little more. Cycling at a light pace of 10mph will burn 400-500 calories in the total hour commute of 10 miles roundtrip. Cycling to work is essentially forced exercise. It’s not getting home at night after work and trying to get yourself to the gym. You need to get to work somehow, so why not get some exercise out of the deal? And it’s also a lot more fun than driving to work half asleep!
You will also get to work feeling great. Your endorphins will kick in and you will already feel a sense of accomplishment before stepping into the office. I am willing to bet that your momentum will carry over to your work and you will perform better. The release of endorphins causes happiness, and happy people do great work!
Most of us spend all day inside. Getting ready in the morning, sitting in an office, driving a car, and coming home at night to read or watch television or whatever else. I am willing to bet that most of us spend less than an hour or two outside per day (I am in the category). We are essentially prisoners of our own structures. Cycling is a way to get some “outdoors time”. You would be surprised by what you notice going just 10mph to and from work. A beautiful sunrise/sunset, nice bridges, the openness of the land around you, and maybe you’ll just notice the people in the cars. Whatever you see, you see things more clearly on a bicycle.
Overall, the ability to commute by bike gives a better quality of life. Don’t believe me? Read this ) comprehensive publication titled “Cycling: The Way Ahead for Towns and Cities” by the European Commission encouraging the use and promotion of bicycles.
I know that commuting isn’t possible for everyone, but see what you can do to cycle more. Whether you commute to work, ride your bike to the market on weekends, or just go for joyrides at night after work. Try it out. It’s a trend that is spreading like wildfire. Strap up a helmet; it’s not considered nerdy any more. Get out there and see what all the fuss is about.