Recently a couple of different events coincided that changed the way that I look at my 9 mile (18 miles round trip) commute to work.
- A recent 10K (6.2 mile) charity race had its start/finish lines right near my office on a Sunday morning. Since I usually run between 15-20 miles on Sunday mornings, I had Mr. PoP drop me off at the race start and told him I’d just run home after the race for a total of a little over 15 miles.
- Mr. Money Mustache wrote his Anti-Automobile April post spurring readers to keep track of biking/driving mileage for the month of April.
Considering that I had just run the distance between my office and home, and now knew the sidewalks, I figured I could give the challenge a try!
I Hadn’t Biked In Forever
Since moving to FL, my bike hadn’t gotten a whole lot of use. Okay, even less than “not a whole lot”. “Hardly any” is more like it. We had even semi-permanently loaned it to Mr. PoP’s parents to get it out of our one-car garage that sometimes feels tight on space and into their spacious 2 car garage that stores just a car and a golf cart. But in the name of the challenge, we brought the bike back to the house so I could ride to work.
How’s It Going?
Two words. Freaking Amazing.
Okay, so there was a bit of a rough start for the first test ride when I forgot to sunscreen my quads and got a horrible sunburn. And I’ve been playing it safe and haven’t yet ventured out in the rain or high winds. I’m still a little nervous about the “surprise” storms with TS force winds that can come up in our summer rainy season, but we’ll play it by ear. I’ve become a diligent weather watcher like never before. Side note: the weather is supposed to be gorgeous this whole week, so unless that forecast changes, I’m riding a bike to work all 5 days this week!
I’m not a super fast rider, but I am improving, and have the trip to under 40 minutes. Closer to 36 minutes if I don’t have to wait for any stop lights. That’s not bad considering that it takes 15 minutes to get to work on a good day, and as much as 25 minutes during snowbird season.
I bought all of my equipment while still in school about 8 years ago when I needed easy transportation to go get groceries outside of the veritable food desert in which I lived. So this equipment is all about 8 years old, and cost about $400 new back then.
- Bike is a Jamis commuter (I’ve named her GoGo – as in Go, Go Speed Racer, Go!)
- Bell bike helmet from the same era and I never ride without it. (Seriously… our brains are some of our most valuable assets right now even if it’s not listed on our balance sheet.)
- Awesome removeable bike basket that’s about the size of a handbasket for grocery shopping
- Classy old school bike bell to alert people to get out of the way ’cause GoGo’s coming through!
It’s not super fancy. But it’s comfortable, feels safe, and works for me.
Here’s the part that actually made me gasp when I calculated it. Our cost savings. I knew we spend a boat-load on gas each month but I never really caclulated it out by the day out of desire to NOT want to know.
Mr PoP drove his car ~45 miles round trip to/from work in a car that gets ~15mpg. I drove my car ~20 miles (if I’m driving, I typically add errands and stops) to/from work in car that gets 30mpg. That’s 45/15 + 20/30 = 3.67 gallons of gas getting to/from work for each of us. (That number makes me gag a bit it’s so high.)
With Mrs. PoP Biking
If I’m on the bike I use no gas, and Mr. PoP takes my car. He puts up with the occasional comments from coworkers that it’s a “chick car”. But he uses just 45/30 = 1.5 gallons of gas.
So on days that I bike we save ~2.17 gallons of gas, which at today’s prices (~$3.75/gal), translates to a daily savings of $8.13. Not to mention we save 2.17 gallons of gas! Shocking, right? I’m seriously more than a little embarrassed about these numbers. We knew they were high, I just didn’t want to realize how ridiculously so.
The best part isn’t even the cost savings. So far, the best part has been how much more we both love our commutes on biking days. Mr. PoP hesitated at first to tell me how much he was enjoying driving my car so I wouldn’t feel pressured to bike ride if I didn’t want to. But he loves driving her. So much nicer on the highway than his car. And turns out I love biking, too! We get to work happier, get home happier, and that feels like a far bigger benefit that the $8.13 per day.
To be honest, I feel like I’m back in grad school – but without the soul crushing frustration – riding my bike along river paths. I’m 23 again!
These are some of the views on my ride. Not bad, right? My life will be complete if I see a manatee in one of the canals on my ride some day. =)
I’m not going to commit to selling Mr. PoP’s car and doing this every day (like I said, Tropical Storm force winds are going to be avoided – SAFETY FIRST!), but keep an eye on those gas expenditures on our monthly income statements. April gas spending was down from previous months, and it was just the beginning of the experiment. Hopefully you’ll continue to see a downward trend as we keep this up.
When was the last time you rode a bike? Is your commute bikeable?