I’m so happy to be back on my bike! Commuting to work by bike helps me save money, stay fit (sort of), and also helps preserve my sanity. I haven’t been able to do this regularly in quite a while due to pregnancies and day care rides. The ability to bike commute is one of those things you take for granted until that choice is gone. So is the ability to pair travel and cycling, for that matter, but we’ll get back to that someday. By some miracle of fate, I have no day car rides right now, so I’m going to bike commute again for as long as that freedom lasts!
I am very lucky to live quite close to work – about a mile or two actually. So my gas savings are nominal compared to most. I probably save about $30-$40 a month in gas currently. Most folks would save more. I’m also lucky that my employer provides cash incentives for biking to work (or getting there via any non-driving mode for that matter). That works out to about $20-$80 cash in my pocket post taxes each month. So in total, I’m saving/earning over $100 per month. If I were able to totally get rid of my car some day that number would go much higher, but for now that’s not an option.
Over the years that I’ve been able to bike commute I’ve used this savings toward any bike commuting gear I may need. The right safety gear goes a long way to build confidence to bike commute. If you’re interested, my favorite super bright bike light is the NiteRider Lumina which seems nearly as bright as a car headlight and makes me feel much more comfortable on the road after dark. For carrying my stuff, I’ve tried various options and I prefer to use a Timbuktu messenger bag because it doesn’t slide around too much. And I finally sprung for an updated Bern helmet with a visor that I find super comfy and not horrible for helmet hair. Please always, always, always use a helmet! After my one bad crash and head bonk (with a helmet, thank god), I’ll never get on a bike without one again.
Ok, since I fessed up about my very short commute distance, you know that I’m not getting amazing muscles with my short rides. However, my short commute is basically a ride up and over one very steep hill. So for a brief few moments each morning and evening, my legs are on fire and my heart is pumping! This is not the extent of my fitness goals, but with two young kids at home, some days it’s all I have time for.
Fitting a bit of exercise into something that is otherwise a chore that you have to do anyway – your commute – is a win regardless of the number of calories burned.
This lesser-touted benefit of bike commuting is arguably the most important. It’s definitely my favorite! I find that my brief ride in the morning and afternoon give me time to clear my head. The ride in to work helps get my blood flowing and wakes me up. A chilly nip in the air and the wind in my face makes me feel like my day is off to a good start. Coming home, it’s time to try to get whatever annoying or stressful work thing from that day out of my mind. It’s a chance to mentally prepare for the much more fun stress of job #2 – the dinner, bath time, bedtime routine for my kiddos. I arrive at home feeling invigorated rather than drained, and I need all the energy I can get for those two munchkins!
If you’re considering bike commuting, go for it! If you’re scared of riding alone, find a friend or colleague to go along or practice your route on the weekend. The right safety gear and route planning will certainly help build confidence to get out on the road. See you out there!