I must admit that my family has it easy when commuting to work and school by bicycle. We live about 2 miles from the center of downtown so everything is within an easy 15-20 minute ride from our house. On nice days it takes almost no extra planning to ride to school instead of drive. In fact we only need to leave about five minutes before normal to get there on time. The hardest part is convincing the kids that riding is better than driving. To do so requires a small bribe. After five days of riding to school they earn a frozen drink from the coffee shop. For us the only reason to not ride is pure laziness (including being too lazy to put on 3 extra layers of clothes in winter).
The other day I saw a friend, Julie, with a much more unique and creative situation than my own. I was parking for school one day (yes I drove) and noticed her getting her bike off the top of the car. I asked where she was headed on her ride (as in I thought she was going out for exercise or enjoyment). That’s when she told me her story.
First some prior knowledge. Julie lives in the county and has two young children (preschool and 2nd grade). All of them riding into town is not an option. So instead she drives them to school with her bike on top of the car. She then rides eight miles back into the country, where she works for the day, and then rides back to school at the end of the day. She puts the bike on her car and takes the kids home.
Julie’s commuting is brilliant on so many levels:
1. Her kids see that a car is not the only mode of transportation available.
2. She gets in a total of 16 miles of riding as part of her daily schedule. Amazing…and healthy.
3. This definitely saves money. How much? Let’s say she rides 100 days a year. That’s 1,600 miles of not driving. At 25 miles per gallon that’s 64 gallons of gas saved x $2.75 per gallon = $176 dollars saved a year. Not a ton of money I realize. You won’t be retiring early on a couple hundred extra bucks. However, the health benefits are very difficult to measure. Considering what health care costs are let’s just say the savings are way more than the $176 dollars per year on gas.
I couldn’t think of a better first post about bicycles than this story. It has nothing to do with epic adventures or breaking records. Just riding for the sake of riding. I applaud everyone out there getting creative and riding more.*
Enjoy the ride,
* I often joke with Julie, and her husband Frank, that we live in the wrong town. Most people around here consider riding to work pure lunacy at worst and not plausible at the least. Yet in certain areas of the country stories like these are a dime a dozen. Maybe we can start a trend here?
** After Julie reviewed this post she pointed out two omissions on my part. One, riding is a huge stress reliever allowing her to deal with kids and work more effectively. Two, she losses about 2.5 hrs. a week (as compared to if she drove) that could be used to earn more income. Thus, she is not really saving money, but she assured me it is still worth the time and effort.