5 Reasons to Ditch the Car & Ride a Bike to Work
Biking has made a resurgence as people have looked for simple ways to save money, lower their impact on the environment, and get exercise.
2010 bike sales were up 15% over 2009, and the number of bikes sold with wheel sizes over 20″ (adult bikes) was the second highest in the last 20 years.
A few years ago I decided to sell off my car. I started busing, then made the move to biking to work.
I bike a little over two miles each way to and from work from May through November annually now. I then take the local bus line in the winter months.
And I absolutely love it.
So much so, that no matter where I work in the future I will make sure that I live just a short, bike-friendly route away. Here are 5 reasons why I love it and you probably will too if you just give it a shot.
1. Low Maintenance
Many local bike shops teach free bike maintenance 101 courses. And once you’ve changed a flat tube, replaced your bike paid or done any other maintenance on your bike, anyone can do it. It pays to have a good local bike shop to buy from if you are buying new vs. buying from a big box store – they put them together better, usually have a number of free tuneups, and are much more knowledgeable.
2. It’s Great Exercise
You can burn anywhere from 35-70 calories per mile biking, depending on your weight and how fast you are biking. At my speeds, weight and distance, I figure that I’m burning about 250 calories per day just going to and from work. Calories burned in my car? Probably less than 5. Here is a biking calorie calculator to plug in your own metrics.
In the 15 minutes it takes me to do the trip, I’ve burned as many calories as I would if I went to the gym to run on a treadmill a few miles. And instead of an hour or more to go to the gym, I’ve done it in 15 minutes. And it was a hell of a lot more fun. Which brings me to my next point.
3. It’s Fun
Remember when the training wheels came off for the first time on your first real bike and you felt like you could fly? Me getting out there again and a mini obsession with the Tour de France (I’ve watched all 21 stages over the past few years – congrats Cadel!) – has led to me re-discovering that child-like love of biking that I missed for a lot of years in between.
If you haven’t ridden a bike in years, that fun factor will hit you again – I guarantee it.
4. It’s a Great Stress Relief
I have a high stress, high pressure day job. That stress builds up during the day and by the time I get home, I’m pretty wound up. I really look forward to getting on that bike and going as fast as I can to burn off that stress. By the time I get home, I’m re-invigorated. It works every day. I’m usually not that fun to be around in the winter when I don’t have this outlet.
5. It’s a HUGE Cost Savings
Minus $6 tubes when you get a flat or $6/pair brake pads, the ongoing costs of bike ownership are almost nothing. Start-up costs are comparitively dirt cheap too. If you don’t have a bike, you can get yourself a very nice one for a few monthly car payments or get yourself a “project” on Craigslist for $10 or sometimes free and fix it up.
I’ve talked a lot about the cost savings of biking vs. driving. I had a relatively inexpensive used car that got over 30 mpg, yet I was able to save over $5,000 a year in making the move to a bike. And I think that’s probably on the low end of what most would actually save when you factor in monthly payments, fuel, insurance, maintenance, and parking.
It’s one of those things that is hard to put a number on. However, I was recently made aware of an awesome biking vs. driving calculator so you can plug in your own numbers. And believe it or not, over a lifetime, you could literally save $1M or more (no joke) in making the move. That doesn’t surprise me – cars are the biggest cash drain of anything you could possibly own – even more than a home if you look at total cost.
Ride a Bike to Work Steps
Get out your bike, tune it up, and give it a shot. Try riding your bike to work once next week to see what you think. Then try twice a week, then an entire week. You might be surprised how much you don’t want to give it up. And if it works out – why not sell the car?
Bike to Work Discussion:
- Have you made the move to riding a bike to work?
- If so, how have you benefited?
- If not, what’s holding you back?