The Travels of Vince, Jonalyn, Devin & Grant

permalinkBicycle Commuting Update
March 21, 2014

I'm well into becoming a regular cycling commuter now and have some updates on how things are going. I'm doing it 2-4 times per week now, and am down to average ride times in the low 50 minute range. In total, I've ridden over 1,000 miles.

For a quick summary, there are several things that make this work well. First, there are Class I (separated, no cars) bike paths for almost the whole ride. No stops or traffic makes up for a slower top speed. Having both boys at the same day care is also very important. On days I'm dropping off or picking up the boys, I can leave early, drop them off (they'll take Devin to his school, then pick him up after), leave my car in their lot, ride to work and back, then pick them up and head home.

The benefits of this commute are numerous:

Health - I've dropped several pounds on the scale, and inches around the waist. I'm much faster and much less tired after rides from when I started. This alone makes the endeavor worthwhile.

Time - This has gotta be the most time efficient workout possible. Driving takes 45 minutes each way commute and is basically lighting time on fire. Recovering that time gives me almost two hours of working out, for only 30-40 minutes out of my day (5-10 minutes extra ride time, 5-10 minutes extra gear time, each way). But it gets better! I swear I get that time back and more with extra energy at night. When I ride to work I'm able to stay productive much longer into the night. And these are valuable hours after the kids are in bed!

Money - I'm saving some money by not driving my car. These calculations get really complicated really quickly though. The gas ($.20/mile) is a certain. The wear on my car ($.10/mile) is a good bet to add into the mix. Insurance is marginally cheaper with fewer miles, but hard to calculate. If it helps stretch out the lifetime of my car(s) enough that I buy fewer over my lifetime, that's a HUGE win, but also hard to calculate. On the downside, I usually pay for extra child care in the mornings to leave earlier so I'm not losing that 30-40 minutes (see above) of time at work. Also, I tend to eat a bit more lunch, which never wipes out my daily gas savings, but can certainly put a big dent into it. Some cheap, healthy snacks at my desk have helped there. Now, I've plowed all these savings back into gear, plus I've "borrowed" a bit some more for some nice upgrades, so it'll be a while before this actually shows up in my pocketbook. One thing is for sure though - it's a lot cheaper than a gym membership!

Traffic - 14 of the 15 miles on my ride is flat-out with no stops. I only have to dodge slower bikes and walkers. This leaves a much lower variance in my travel time, where driving can be anywhere from 35min (really good day, off-peak) to 1:10 (really bad day). I can plan on being home within 5 minutes of my best ride time. Instead of worrying about traffic, I worry about which way the wind is blowing.

External Benefits - I'm reducing your traffic, pollution, gas, and health care costs. You're welcome! I hope that outweighs the extra food and water I'm using up.

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