So you’re sick of spending all your money on gas, car maintenance and parking? And you wish you had a chance to burn a few more calories? Perfect solution: commute by bike to work!
Kiplinger has a calculator to show how much you could save each day by riding your bike to work.
As a test, I said my daily commute is 20 miles round trip. I said I don’t have any parking or toll expenses. They said I can save $8 a day– that’s a whopping $2,000 a year! And the commuting calculator even tells you how they calculated the amount they show.
Try it — you might be surprised what you find.
But before you decide to put a new bicycle for commuting to work on your Christmas wish list, remember this:
- Fall is here and winter is coming (sadly). Unpredictable weather. Wet leaves followed by snowy roads in Elmira, Corning and the Twin Tiers are a huge hazards for bicyclists. And we are seeing less daylight, so our safe riding hours are shrinking. Yes, you can get a light for your bike, but you will still be mostly invisible to drivers and you won’t be able to see the road hazards like potholes with just a bike light.
- Do you wear your work clothes, maybe a suit, on a bike commute, or carry your work clothes and change in the bathroom? It’s not a deal breaker, but consider that a complication each day. And if you arrive to work sweaty, can you take a shower?
- Do you have somewhere safe to store the bicycle at work? (And don’t say your office!)
- Know your commute path well. Are bicycles allowed on all the streets and roads? Will you feel safe riding with traffic if there are no shoulders or the shoulders are filled with glass and other debris? Know your road conditions very well. Again, DO YOUR HOMEWORK.
- Your best bet is to become a part-time bike commuter. Once you do your homework (yes, I said it again), pick a few sunny and warm days and try it. Don’t put your car up on blocks just yet! Realize that in the Twin Tiers, bicycle commuting will likely always be part time, thanks in part to our two seasons — road construction and winter!
As Kiplinger points out in another story, there are many benefits to bicycling to work. Among them: it’s a good workout, you’ll save money, it’s better for the economy and it cuts down on the parking hassle.
If you like the bike commute, Kiplinger suggests you buy:
- Lights for early-morning or nighttime riding. Get a white LED front light to attach to your handlebars so you’ll stay visible when approaching intersections, and buy a red, blinking light to attach to your seat post or clip onto your back so approaching drivers will see you from behind.
- A rack or panniers, either of which can attach to the back of your bike, to carry files, a change of clothes or other personal items. A small messenger bag or backpack might suffice but can strain your back. Most mountain bikes or hybrids easily accommodate a rack or panniers.
- Shoes with clips, which will give you more control and power during a rush-hour ride.
- A fender to keep water from splashing onto you from your rear tire.
- A cycling computer to track your speed and trip length.
Just remember: Do the math. Pick a go0d day and ride to work (once you do your homework and planning).
If you like it, and want to work bike commuting into your schedule, then by all means let Santa know what you want. Just be sure Santa knows you want to be SAFE!
If you are a bike commuter, please share your tips or favorite stories in our comments section!
Thanks for reading!
James B. Reed
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)