More Power for the Pedal
Reap the benefits of commuting to work by bike
About 90 percent of people in the United States drive to work, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Subtract those who work from home or live in major metro areas like New York City – where driving and parking can be logistical nightmares – and you’re left with very few people who don’t get in a car every day.
But signs of change are afoot. In a recent segment on CBS’s Sunday Morning, hordes of commuters, having traded in their cars for bikes, cycled to work with giant smiles on their faces. Sure, the biker’s movement has been around a while, but now it’s a different game. Gas prices are now topping $4 a gallon, leading more and more people to trade in their four wheels for two.
On the show, cyclist Julian Richards estimated he could save up to $5,000 a year by biking instead of driving to work each day. Think of the handbags and shoes you could buy! It’s true: Bike commuters can save on gas, oil changes, brake repairs, tires, car washes, parking fees and a gym membership, and maybe even get a lower rate on their car insurance.
Aside from saving money, Richards said he dropped 10 pounds in two months. Think of all the Seven for All Mankind jeans you could buy! And of course a ride to work helps the environment.
More cities are starting to think about ways in which to revamp their roads and help commuters get to work safely via bike. Some cities, like Boston, are still at the very beginning of the movement. Others, like San Francisco, Chicago and Minneapolis, have become well known for their bicycle facilities. The most bike-friendly city is Portland, Oregon, which has a 300-mile bike network.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if U.S. cities could become more like Copenhagen or Amsterdam, where more than a quarter of all trips are taken by bike?
Even with the existence of proper bike lanes, riding a bike to work presents a few problems. I have a friend who lives in New York, and on the first day of her two-wheel commute, her bike was stolen. There’s also the issue of sweating, a necessary product of exertion; how do you freshen up after a three-mile ride to the office? Commute by Bike’s Commuting 101 section has some tips for solving these issues, including stashing baby wipes and Febreze at your desk.