Originally, Bike to Work Day was started as part of an international effort to reduce carbon emissions. Now, more and more people are looking at biking as a more financially smart choice for their commute.
If you’re one of these people, you might be wondering: “is biking to work worth it?” Today, we’ll be looking at biking to work benefits and drawbacks. Even if biking to work every day isn’t an option for you now, you can still participate this Friday!
Biking to Work Benefits: Is Biking to Work Worth It?
There’s a reason bike commuting has almost doubled in recent years. Biking to work has a huge list of benefits.
The most obvious benefit is the environmental impact. When you bike to work, you’re saving the carbon emissions that your car would put into the air. On top of that, your car will last longer when you aren’t putting daily miles on the counter. That means fewer long-term emissions since you won’t need to buy a new car.
That brings us to the financial perks of biking to work. Bikes can get expensive, but they’re much less cost-intensive than owning a car. When you drive a car to work, there are three main costs that you need to think about.
First, there’s buying the car itself – and that’s not a small purchase! A “junker” can still cost upwards of $5,000 just to purchase, and then you’ll have to worry about it breaking down. Meanwhile, even a very high-end bike will cost you about $2,000 and a more reasonable mid-tier bike goes for about $900.
Next, there’s maintenance. You have to maintain a car less often, but it costs more. Some repairs can cost more than your entire bike would! Bike parts will wear out quicker but cost less – even cumulatively. Replacing a bike because a part breaks is also much rarer than replacing a car because a part breaks, especially if you have an older car.
Finally, you have insurance. You’re required to have car insurance in every state. Car insurance, on average, will cost you around $100 a month. Bikes aren’t required to have insurance at all. If you do want to be fully covered by top bicycle insurance, you’re looking at $100 – $500 a year (or about $8 – $40 a month). You can also check out Progressive. It offers simple, no-hassle bicycle insurance if your bike is stolen or vandalized. It also provides coverage if you’re injured in a bike accident or your bike gets damaged in an accident.
That’s better for your environment and better for your wallet, but bikes are better for one more big thing – your waistline. Many people struggle to find time to exercise, but the benefits are enormous. Aside from fewer health complications and better mental health, exercise can boost brain function. For your workday, that means being more creative and productive during the day, and feeling less mentally zapped at the end of the day.
Biking to work makes daily exercise easy because it becomes part of your routine! No more squeezing in time to head to the gym, or wondering how to juggle dinner plans with a workout. Instead, exercise becomes a habit, so you can start reaping the rewards sooner and more easily.
Should I Bike to Work?
So is biking to work right for you? Maybe… but maybe not. There are a few major struggles to think about before you crack open your wallet for the finest bike money can buy.
The first thing to think about is where you live – some places are more bike-friendly than others.
First, check out your city’s infrastructure for bikes. Some areas will have bike lanes on major roads, others won’t. If you don’t have a bike lane, your rate of accidents will shoot way up, and it’ll be harder to get insurance to cover any damage or injury.
Second, consider the weather. May can have some of the most beautiful weather of the year, but it doesn’t stick around long. Think about all of the different weather conditions you’ll face and how you can prepare for them. If you live in a place where it gets over 100℉ in the summer and below 0℉ in the winter… well, you’ll need a backup plan.
Neither of these things makes it impossible to bike to work, but you’ll have to plan for them!
After the weather, you’ll have to think about how far away your office is… in biking miles, that is. Your commute might be easy as pie to drive, but when you hop on a bike, you might find you have to change things up. Being safety conscious might make your biking commute just a little longer than your driving commute.
Even if your commute is relatively short and sweet, are you ready for it? If you’re out of shape or haven’t ridden a bike in years, you might not be ready for the distance. Let’s say your route when you bike to work is 5 miles.
5 miles on a bike doesn’t sound like a lot, and it isn’t! Just remember that’s 5 miles each way and every day. That means that you’ll actually be biking 10 miles a day, and 50 miles a week! You won’t have to worry about a gym membership anymore, but you might want to build up to biking every day.
Finally, riding your bike to work can be easier or harder depending on your job. Your job might be physically demanding, but even if you work a desk job, you may not be off the hook.
Biking is a workout, so you’ll arrive at work a little sweaty and you may not be able to bike in your work clothes. This means that at a minimum, you’ll need to be sure you have a place to change. If your work has showers or lockers where you can store a change of clothes, all the better!
Next, because biking is a workout, you’ll want to be sure you can snack and hydrate throughout the day. You’re burning calories, and sure to get hungry quicker!
Make Biking to Work Best for You
Ultimately, biking to work is just like any other environmentally conscious choice. If it’s gonna work, it has to work for you.
A great way to make sure biking works for you is to bike to work “part-time”. This could mean only biking to work and then carpooling home with your bike in the trunk. You could choose to only bike when the weather is nice, like in the spring and early fall months.
Or, you could bike just one day a week or one day a month. It might seem like a very little change, but it can make a big difference. Just one person biking instead of driving for just one day prevents over 4,000 grams of carbon from gun king up the air (even with a short commute!). Do that all 52 weeks of the year, and you’re looking at a total of more than 450 pounds!
Biking to work one day a week may be a little change, but it can make a big difference. That’s why we believe in little changes here at Penny Calling Penny. For more little changes you can make to help the earth, your wallet, and yourself, subscribe to our newsletter. You’ll get articles like this delivered straight to your inbox so you can start making the choices that really add up!