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Home » Biking, Eco-Friendly Savings, Live

5 Reasons to Ditch the Car & Ride a Bike to Work

Last updated by on 18 Comments

Biking has made a resurgence as people have looked for simple ways to save money, lower their impact on the environment, and get exercise.

The number of bikes sold are now starting to outsell the number of cars sold.

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.

bike to work

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 comparatively 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?

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About the Author
I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 7,500+ others by getting FREE email updates. You'll also find every post by category & every post in order.


18 Comments »
  • Chris says:

    I would *LOVE* to bike to work. However, my daily drive to work is ~30 miles one way, and that’s using a major interstate.

    Using back roads per Google Map’s bike directions, is actually shorter milage wise (28.8) but would take almost 3 hours for one way, not something I could ever do on a regular basis, or even really ever.

    That, and my current bike is a POS, an $80 special from a big box store… in 1995 when I was a paperboy, and it needs some work. Though, without an easy way to bike to work, I can’t justify a new bike purchase.

    I’ve thought about driving part of the distance, and then biking the rest, but there’s not many good places I could leave my car, as the closest Park & Ride to work is 1/2 the way.

    I really wish work was closer, and a career change isn’t going to be possible.

    Oh well, I can keep hoping :)

    • G.E. Miller says:

      Would it be cost effective to move closer to work considering the cost savings you’d be able to enjoy?

      • Chris says:

        Unfortunately no, moving closer to work isn’t really an option (nor would I want to).

        First, our house is now valued at around $150k under the mortgage (we bought 5-6 years ago while prices were high).

        Second, the closer we get to work, prices start to drastically increase… and then you get closer to work, prices drop fast, but the area is quite rough, and I wouldn’t want to live that close to work either.

        I say a career change isn’t possible, because where I am, I make a good salary, and the benefits are really good (including a solid retirement/pension/etc). Getting that elsewhere would be very difficult, and I’d run into the same problem, it wouldn’t be anywhere close to our house, we’d have to go 20+ miles in the opposite direction!

    • Anneli says:

      To everyone who thinks that their work is too far:

      Consider getting an electric bicycle or retrofitting your bike with a gas engine (which is way cheaper than electric)!

      Depending on the engine size, you might not need a driver’s license endorsement for it, depending on your state, and might be able to go 40+ mph.

      Even a gas engine can get 150+ mpg on a bicycle!

  • Ginger says:

    I used to ride but have gotten out of the habit once I got a car, and have since sold my bike. I am going to try to find a cheap or free bike and start again.

  • T says:

    How do you handle not being sweaty or dirty when you get to work? I’ve thought about biking to work as it is only a couple of miles, but the logistics of business attire is the part I haven’t quite figured out.

    • G.E. Miller says:

      Here’s how I’d do it if a shower was not available:
      1. Wear breathable shorts/t-shirt and bring a bottle of ice water to keep cool and prevent sweating as much as possible and keep a slow to moderate pace. Depending on where you live, you might find there are only a few months out of the year you actually have to worry about the sweat as it could be fairly cool in the morning. For me, it’s July and August.
      2. Pack business attire (nicely folded, of course) in a backpack.
      3. Use Mary’s tip of a wet wipe that is unscented to wipe off sweat and cool down. Apply some deodorant. Then change into business attire.
      4. Change out of business attire at end of day and bike home.

      It may sound like a bit of work, but you’ll get used to the routine fairly quickly.

  • Mary says:

    @T: I’m SUPER lucky at my current job – we have a gym with showers in the office so I just wait to shower and get ready until I get to work. In other situations, though, I’ve found that packing your clothes and changing in the restroom works well. I’m a pretty gross person so I’m with you on worrying about the sweatiness. Baby wipes (unscented – I don’t want to smell like a diaper) are a godsend. Get to work, head to the restroom, wipe yourself down with a few baby wipes, swipe on a little extra deoderant and change your clothes. Then you’re good to go!

  • Natalie says:

    Love the calculator, but it didn’t give me the numbers I expected. I put in numbers for a $20k car paid for in cash and kept 10 years. On the bike side, I then put in the local cost of 6 taxi rides a month and 1 day of car rental a month. The result? I’ll save $145 a YEAR by switching to a bike. If I can keep the car longer than 10 years without major repairs, I might come out ahead by keeping the car.

    Of course, I could change my lifestyle to never go on weekend trips out of town, but this wouldn’t be a fair comparison. I could save nearly the same by not doing that now and keep the car.

    I live in an area with very expensive cab service and very little bus service, so your numbers might be different. It’s good to run the numbers.

  • Health Forum says:

    I wish my job was a little bit closer so I could ride my bike to woek

  • Gary says:

    I am loving my bike ride to work. I’ve been doing it for the last year and it’s been working great for me. I think it depends where you live too. Vancouver has really embraced the bike community in the last few years so we have a lot of great bike paths through the city.

  • Kulutusluotot says:

    Two miles is something I very often walk to the work. A few years ago, I used to ride every day abou 6-7 miles to work. It was faster than using a bus, but of course I needed exttra 2 x 15 minutes for shower and changing my clothes :)

  • Erika says:

    I just started riding my bike to work everyday…started this Monday, so today is “Day 3″. I haven’t been on a bike in YEARS, like at least seven years. I was a little wobbly at first but y’know, it’s like riding a bike, you never really forget. ;)

    I work in downtown Austin, TX and live about a few miles away with access to the hike/bike trails so I’ve got it made. I leave my apartment and jump on the trails which lead me straight to my work building downtown. Spoiled? Yes. Plus it only takes me about 15-20 minutes at a slow to medium pace.

    No showers at work so I utilize the handicap stall in the women’s bathroom to cool down. I bring a small handheld fan to cool off, cold water and a hand towel. I didn’t think of baby wipes! I will try that. I change into my work attire (which was packed in my backpack) and I keep high heels at my desk. Luckily my office building is always freezing so cooling down at my desk doesn’t take long. I also bring a small bottle of body spray I spritz once I’m cooled off.

    The key to keeping at it: I turned in my downtown parking garage keycard!! Call me crazy but I am determined!

    Great story above. Yours, not mine. Well mine too I guess. ;)

  • Sophia says:

    Great post! My fiancee and I live only a mile from work and he owns a gas guzzler, so he has been great about biking to work. Of course, he doesn’t worry about getting his makeup messy in the rain. I’ve raced him home from work, me in the car, and he on the bike, and it takes the exact same time! The distance is short enough that he don’t really need to freshen up or change into work clothes, but I would have to because I often wear skirts. I usually get to work before 6am, and often stay up late at night to finish projects, so I appreciate even 15 minutes of extra sleep! When we move to a bigger city next year, I plan to save money by selling one of our two cars, and biking/taking public transit to work.

  • Marah says:

    I could/should bike to work (two miles from home). I keep intending to try to find an affordable bike. But every weekend, I have to drive 85 miles (with my dog) to the old homestead to help my elder parents, and then back again to my current town, so I would have to keep the car for that. Also, the closest grocery is about 5 miles away. Wonder if I would still save any money? I know I’d be healthier!

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