Bike Commuters Opt to Burn Fat, Not Gas
Friday may be national Bike-to-Work Day, but more and more commuters are doing it on a daily basis, driven by ever-higher gasoline prices.
Dylan Ross, a financial planner from Hightstown, N.J., started riding his bike to work three weeks ago. The husband and father of two says the 2.5-mile ride allows him to hit three birds with one stone.
"Most of the benefits for me biking to work have been a little bit of cost savings, I'm doing my part for the environment and it's good exercise."
More commuters, like Ross, are opting to commute by bicycle, according to Andy Clarke, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists.
"We're seeing more people out riding, and it makes sense," says Clarke. "We've been worried about the obesity epidemic and physical activity issues, and we're worried about gas prices and climate change, so all the reasons are there for people to consider this."
With gas at $4 a gallon in some states, Clark says a typical bike commuter who rides five miles to and from work five days a week an save upwards of $2,000 a year in gasoline costs alone. If you add on parking and tolls, he says the savings could double.
Cities and towns around the country are taking steps to make their communities more bicycle friendly. Chicago, for example, has a $3 million facility in its central business district that provides indoor bike parking, showers and bike repairs, making it easier for residents to commute to work by bicycle. Other cities, partly a result of the green movement, are making infrastructure investments and offering rider incentives.
Click here to see the slideshow of the 10 most bicycle-friendly cities
Regardless of where you are riding, sharing the road with cars and trucks can be intimidating, but there are many things a rider can do to make the trip safer. Clarke advises cyclists to ride with traffic, follow the rules of the road, wear lights and avoid the sidewalk.
In order to get started and ride safely, new riders will have to invest in equipment.
"You can start as low as $300, and the average with the helmet and all is probably $400," says Jim Cerullo, owner of James Vincent Bicycles in North Bergen, N.J.
Besides a bicycle and a helmet, Cerullo also advises new riders to buy a bike light, an air pump, a water bottle and an extra inner tube.
The power source, of course, is free.