Saving Money with Every Pedal

After moving to Boston and choosing to live within biking distance to my office, I am itching to start commuting to work by bike. I literally can’t wait. Because I am so excited, I decided to update this old post from 2011 and share my plan to save money through biking to work.

How & When I Started Biking to Work

I started biking to work in 2011. When I started biking, I would not even consider biking if the weather was not comfortable, but that slowly changed. While I could never bring myself to bike in the winter, I did turn into “that crazy person” that was biking to and from work in 100+ degree weather during the summer. It seemed like it was almost everyday that someone doubted my sanity. In case you’re curious how I did not kill myself from exhaustion or heat exposure, I would chug an entire 16 ounce bottle of water within 20 minutes of leaving. Then, I’d change after work into my biking gear, fill up my water bottle before leaving and start the trek home. With enough will power, I was able to save just enough water to last me the grueling five miles home.

Sounds horrible, right?

So, why do it?

Despite how difficult it was, I started biking to work and kept with it almost 3 years ago because of the following reasons:

  1. It’s a great way to exercise - Riding 10 miles each day, without adding any extra time to my day? Yes, please! In all seriousness, taking the train to work and walking from the train station in NJ took me about 25 minutes. My office was about .7 miles from the train station, so it was a decent walk, especially in extreme weather conditions. Biking to work took me about 28 minutes from door to door. While I always like biking in my free time, I often make excuses not to do it. Getting home from work, I’m often hungry and then too tired to go to the gym to work out. By biking to work, I was able to kill two birds with one stone.
  2. I Enjoyed Biking - As I soon found out, biking is one of my favorite activities. It’s so nice to feel the wind on your face, weave in and out of traffic, and explore new areas (at a faster pace than walking). It’s also a low-contact sport for those worried about your knees. You know how you try some things and with some of them, you just thoroughly enjoy…? Biking is this for me: pure fun.
  3. It Saves Money! There’s nothing better than finding a hobby that you enjoy that also saves you money. And I found one. Biking to work would save me approximately $4 dollars a day in NJ, which comes out to about $15,000 over a ten-year period. Not too shabby, if you ask me.
Commute to Work

It’s time to dust this bad boy off and take it for a spin…

My Commute: How Does Boston Compare to New Jersey

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I just moved to Boston and that means my daily commute has changed (once I am brave enough to start biking).

New Jersey

When I was in NJ, I lived 5 miles from my office. While I was able to find a path to work, it was on fairly busy streets, only some of which had bike lanes. I had a couple close calls, but I considered myself reasonably safe (especially with my bell to warn people of their impending mistake).

The one thing that I HATED about my commute was the huge elevation change. It wasn’t a lot, but it was enough to make it really hard (especially coming home). I think the elevation change was somewhere around 400-500 feet, most of which was within a 1 mile stretch. It was a steep enough incline that non-regular bikers would probably get off of their bike and prefer to walk than keep biking.

Boston

Boston, on the other hand, is much better. My wife and I made a conscious decision to live close to downtown. We’re right by public transportation, which also means we are less than 2 miles away from my office. While I won’t get as much of a workout biking to work, it means that I will likely commute more often. Even, dare I say it, in the RAIN. I’ve said it here, so I have to do it now.

What’s even better about my soon-to-be commute is that there is a bike commuter path that goes practically from door to door. Last, but certainly not least, there’s an elevation change of less than 50 feet. Which, for all of you non-bikers out there, that means it’s basically flat.

I’m in biking heaven right now! And this is why I am itching to start biking to work.

Want to Start Biking to Work?

If you want to start biking to work, here’s my quick checklist for you to get started. It’s really quite simple and anyone CAN do it if they are interested.

  1. Calculate how much you spend on a daily basis with your normal commute - If you drive to work, multiply the number of miles by $.56 (IRS mileage reimbursement rate). Then figure out how much this adds up to on a monthly or annual basis.
  2. Use the figure from step 1 to motivate you - If necessary, write it down. Put it on your fridge. Anything that you need to do to remind yourself how much money you are wasting.
  3. Buy the necessary gear/accessories - I know we are trying to save money, but I’m looking at long-term savings. Not short term. Most people don’t bike to work because they don’t have the necessary items. Go get them and stop making excuses. Here’s a list of my accessories, some of which are ‘wish-list’ items:
    1. Bike (I prefer my Trek FX 7.1 Hybrid Bike, but any bike will do)
    2. Helmet
    3. Biking Shorts (I prefer my Pearl iZumi men’s attack shorts)
    4. Synthetic Shirt (or biking jersey, like my Pearl iZumi jersey)
    5. Backpack or bike rack w/ Panniers (to hold all of your stuff)
    6. Sunglasses
    7. Biking gloves
  4. Plan Your Route - The next step is to plan how you are going to get to work and back. You can use google maps or look on MapMyRide.com to look for other bike routes. I like using MapMyRide so that I can see the elevation change. Here’s the things you need to consider when planning your route:
    1. Traffic
    2. Elevation change
    3. Distance
  5. Learn Basic Bike Safety Tips - Riding a bike is not like driving a car. You have to be more defensive. Here’s a great article on bicycle safety at Bicycle Safe.
  6. Do a Test Run - The best thing to do is to bike your route when you are not expected at work. On a weekend or vacation day, test out your route to make sure it is safe and easy to follow. Don’t forget to find out how long it takes you each way. The last thing you want is to be late for work.
  7. Don’t Forget about Changing - The last thing to consider is how long your route is. If it’s more than 10-15 minutes, you are likely going to show up to work a little sweaty. There are ways to clean yourself up without showing, but if this is an option at work, take full advantage. Just remember to give yourself enough time not to be stressed.

That’s it. Now you are ready to start saving money and the environment with one lifestyle change. Readers, share your experience biking to work. Do you love or hate it?

7 Responses to Saving Money with Every Pedal

  1. Kevin fick says:

    I wish I could ride on the freeway.

  2. [...] up against the popular consumerist mindset. I’m not naive enough to suggest that everyone bike to work in order to save the environment and dollars on the commute – but I am hopeful enough to [...]

  3. [...] presents Saving Money with Every Pedal | 20′s Finances posted at 20′s [...]

  4. moneystepper says:

    Don’t forget your spare inner-tube!! :)

  5. Mrs. PoP says:

    I’ve been biking to work pretty exclusively since April of last year and I still love it! 9 miles each way takes a little longer than commuting by car, but not much! Especially when I used to rush out of work to try and make it to spinning class on time. Why go to spinning when I’m putting almost 100 miles per week on the bike?

  6. I LOVE biking to work. It’s about 9 miles one way so it’s a great workout and I always feel like I’m starting the day on a great foot. I have had tire issues though so I am going to upgrade my tires this Spring to make them a bit more durable.

  7. I work from home, but I love the idea of getting a bike. Currently, I walk everywhere and I love that as well. Driving is the worst for so many reasons, so I’m all about walking, biking, and using public transportation :)

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