Have you ever thought to yourself that the people who bike in all kinds of weather must be crazy? There are some bicyclists that ride in rain and even snow! I must admit that I am not that dedicated, but I did start biking to work this year. I was “that crazy person” that was biking to and from work in 100+ degree weather this summer. It seemed like it was almost everyday that someone doubted my sanity. Despite the difficult times, I have found that it is worth every pedal. While saving money wasn’t the sole motivation for getting into riding, I found that I saved quite a bit of money by riding my bike to work. I thought I would share some of the details and perhaps motivate some of you to try a more economical (and environmental as well) option for commuting.
I currently live 5 miles from where I work. To many who have never commuted by bike, this may sound like a large distance. I have found that this is one of the shorter commutes for those biking to work. Don’t get me wrong, there are many people who commute much shorter distances, but there are also many that commute significantly longer commutes; some commutes are as long as 20 miles (one way). With a 5 mile commute (and some significant hills) it takes me about 25 minutes to get from door to door. There are many other logistics that I worked out as I went. I work at a University, so I have easy access to a shower once I get to work. I could use a locker, but I decided to carry everything in my backpack. The list of details goes on and on, but it is very easy to find a way to commute by bike for those interested in doing so.
The Savings: Short-term
Other than biking, I have two major options for commuting to work: driving and riding the train. For a while, I was driving my car to work (at the time, my wife commuted by train so I was using the car). If you were to average $.40 per mile (a conservative figure) for gas and wear & tear on the vehicle, it was costing me about $80 per month to commute by car. The other option would be to ride the train. It costs $55 for a monthly pass on the train. As I mentioned, I am not the extreme biker, who bikes in any conditions. I do have my limits. I choose not to bike in the rain or when it is too cold. The temperature leaves me with about 6 months to ride (May-October) for where I live. On days that it rains, I ride the train at $4.50 for a round-trip ticket. On average, it has rained about 2-3 days per month during the work week. Thus, I save somewhere around $45 per month by not riding the train. The savings is even higher if I compare this to the expense of driving ($70 per month). In a given year, I am saving anywhere between $270 – $420.
One other obvious benefit to biking to work is that I am staying healthy. By exercising 5 days a week (for two 25 minute periods), I am significantly improving my overall health. With the huge costs of health care, the savings is much higher. Who knows how many health complications I am avoiding later in life as a result of staying more active now.
If you are wanting to save a little extra money and want to become more active, why not try commuting to work. You never know, you may end up loving it like me.
If you do choose to start commuting, a great article on safety tips for bike commuters can be found at Bicycle Safe.