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Bike Commuting: It's a Gas, Gas, Gas (Saver)

Could high gas prices persuade you to become a bike commuter?

A USA Today article published last week examined some tactics being used by a cross-section of U.S. commuters to counter rising gasoline prices. Two of the people interviewed mentioned that cycling was part of their cost-saving strategy, an approach that includes the bonus of fitting exercise into a busy lifestyle.

No pain at the pumpHow about you? With weather turning nicer as gas prices head higher, are you more motivated to give bike commuting a try? If you're already a convert, how would you describe your experience?

For information and potential inspiration, consider taking a look at REI Expert Advice resources:

Getting into Biking
Riding Skills
Errand-running by Bike
Riding in Traffic

Maintenance Basics
Fixing a Flat Tire
Flat Tire Prevention
Locking Tips
Commuting Checklist

Bikes of particular interest to commuters available at REI:
• Urban Bikes (the category that includes the Novara Gotham (which offers customized panniers), highlighted in a recent Los Angeles Times roundup of noteworthy commuter bikes)
• Cruiser Bikes
• Comfort Bikes
• Electric-assist Bikes
• Folding Bikes

Posted on at 4:15 PM

Tagged: Cycling, REI Expert Advice, bike commuting, commuting and gas prices

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redfalconf35

I switched over to bike commuting a couple weeks back when i did the math and realized that i could pay my bike off in gas savings within 4-6 months. Not only that, but it gives me 1-2hrs of cardio a day (depending on my path), and it gives me an excuse in my mind to skip the fast food trips for lunch.

I invested about $650 into the bike and all the equipment to allow me to commute (lights, panniers, emergency kit, helmet, etc.)

I've found that the quality of the ride in is very much based on how much time i spend off of the main streets. There is an area near my work where a railroad track cuts off all of the small crossroads, so you're forced out onto a main street. That's the part that i pedal the hardest and try to just be done. The ride through neighborhoods and on trails is rather nice.

I'm investing in a helmet mirror so that i can see behind me while on the major streets. It's really awkward to change lanes currently with no situational awareness.

Don't bother with riding on sidewalks, even though it may be tempting if traffic is bad or rude. The small pedestrian sidewalks will make for a rough ride with sometimes unexpected bumps, and any pedestrians will force you out of stride and possibly into the grass. If the sidewalk is wide and smooth (a bike trail), then it's much better, and you can get off the street.

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PaulHMA

I started commuting by bike last April and have loved every minute of it.
I've always wanted to but I can't subject anyone to me not showering after riding. My company moved to new offices in 2011 to a building with locker-rooms and showers and I've been biking to work about 3-4 days a week ever since about 30 miles round-trip. The folks at the Framingham MA REI store were very helpful in me getting started.

I went from filling my gas tank once every 10 days to doing so only once every 5-6 weeks. I did stop commuting during December, January and February because I found I didn't feel safe enough riding my route after dark (even with solar orange jerseys and very bright lights). Instead I took lunchtime rides near work. If there were more and better protected bike lines I would have commuted all winter long.

Oh, and I lost 20 pounds and went down 2 pant sizes since I started riding and I hope to lose 20 more.

Reply
The guy Steve

I started doing a bike-bus commute at the beginning of the year, and I found that way easier to stick to than a full bike commute (which I had done maybe once a week). I'm not a morning person and I hate having to get up early, kit up, put on sunblock (especially), and then have to dry off and change at work (no showers). Now I just stash my kit in a backpack, jump on the bus with my bike up front on the rack (which luckily have always been vacant), kit up when the day is over and ride back. Having a bike makes it much easier when you accidentally miss your stop too. My ride back is 8-9 miles depending on the route, takes me 30-40 minutes depending on how lazy I'm feeling (actually quicker taking the bus), and it helps that its slightly downhill. I'm in Tucson so the winter wasn't bad enough to keep me off the bike and I've ridden both ways in the summer, so it shouldn't be too terrible.

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jwell

I'm glad I made the switch earlier this year. With gas prices, wear and tear on the car and usually trying to exercise 30 minutes to an hour a day, bike commuting made a lot of sense. Now if we could just get some nice weather here in Oregon. I'll take what we get though, I enjoy the green trees and clean air.

Reply
redfalconf35

I switched over to bike commuting a couple weeks back when i did the math and realized that i could pay my bike off in gas savings within 4-6 months. Not only that, but it gives me 1-2hrs of cardio a day (depending on my path), and it gives me an excuse in my mind to skip the fast food trips for lunch.

I invested about $650 into the bike and all the equipment to allow me to commute (lights, panniers, emergency kit, helmet, etc.)

I've found that the quality of the ride in is very much based on how much time i spend off of the main streets. There is an area near my work where a railroad track cuts off all of the small crossroads, so you're forced out onto a main street. That's the part that i pedal the hardest and try to just be done. The ride through neighborhoods and on trails is rather nice.

I'm investing in a helmet mirror so that i can see behind me while on the major streets. It's really awkward to change lanes currently with no situational awareness.

Don't bother with riding on sidewalks, even though it may be tempting if traffic is bad or rude. The small pedestrian sidewalks will make for a rough ride with sometimes unexpected bumps, and any pedestrians will force you out of stride and possibly into the grass. If the sidewalk is wide and smooth (a bike trail), then it's much better, and you can get off the street.

Reply
Outdoorgrrl

To be honest, I'm a fair weather bike commuter, but I'm trying to be more consistent. To that end, I wrote a list of eleven reasons why I should ride my bike to work on my blog: http://nwoutdoorgrrl.com/2012/03/10/11-reasons-why-i-should-ride-my-bike-to-work/. I calculated that I could save roughly $35 a week by riding my bike instead of driving. Of course, high gas prices was only one reason...

Reply
jwell

I'm glad I made the switch earlier this year. With gas prices, wear and tear on the car and usually trying to exercise 30 minutes to an hour a day, bike commuting made a lot of sense. Now if we could just get some nice weather here in Oregon. I'll take what we get though, I enjoy the green trees and clean air.

Reply
JoeMoto

My round trip commute saves me about $8 per day. It's liberating knowing that I can consume less gas, save money and traverse greater distances on my own power. Cycling continues to pay dividends that I never realized possible when I was only driving my car.

Reply
Chaiguy72

This is such a timely article - I've just completed my 1st full workweek of work commuting. I have a pretty short route...only ~3 mi(~18min) one-way, but in that short distance/time, I've learned a few things about bike commuting that I really took for granted previously (i.e. hand signaling, road sharing, right of way, appropriate clothing and gear shifting on an incline - just to name a few). Working for an international corporation with nearly 400+ employees at the local site, I am the only person in recent times to bike commute. It's inspired some interesting conversations, not to mention stares, with colleagues and management alike. I decided to take the plunge to bike commuting after relocating closer to my workplace and realizing that it was ridiculous to drive ~3mi just to park my car at work for an entire day and then drive ~3mi back home. As I now live across the street from a gas station, the increasing gas prices are quite evident and became a huge factor - I realized I needed to conserve gas so I wouldn't be paying for a privilege that outweighed its benefits. I used my REI member dividend and 20% coupon to make the initial purchase; since then, I've supplemented my gear from lessons learned on the road. I'm totally committed to this now and I am much happier for it. I find myself looking forward to my ride home after work as a means for decompression and just enjoying the fresh air :)

Reply
Why not Tri

Living in Okinawa Japan has been great for commuting by bicycle(going on 4 years). Have enjoyed every minute of it as the view to and from work is of the East China Sea. But I do miss Colorado and all the wonderful biking trails and large biking community and events.

Reply
T.D. Wood Staff Member

These stories of commuting on bikes are inspiring. Way to pedal, everyone.

Reply
Burley Trailers

Inspiring indeed, and timely, as our team just blogged about how we're saving as well. Well done, everyone!

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