One Year in the Slow Lane
Here's a wrap-up from Gary "Slow Guy" Kirkland, a writer in Gainesville, Florida, who resolved to start riding his bike to work in 2008. In his first two reports (newsletter Nos. 342 and 346), he told about getting started, gaining experience and finding his groove.
By Gary Kirkland
One morning as I was pulling on my gloves and hat and wrapping up to face the fierce Florida winter -- really, it was below freezing -- it hit me that my experiment/commitment to bike commute for a year had rolled right past its 2-wheeled anniversary.
My original goal wasn't all or nothing, it was 100 days of commuting, figuring it would put me on my bike twice a week, reducing use of my car by 40%.
My final bike-to-work tally for 2008 was just over 150 days, or 3 a week, a 60% auto reduction. And on most of those non-bike days I was able to carpool.
So, what did I gain?
My commute is not huge, just under 6 miles roundtrip, but I figure I saved at least 35 gallons of gas.
I've since learned that an engine's efficiency from a cold start may reduce the advertised mpg by a third or even half during the first 5 miles of a trip. This would make even my fuel-efficient economy car a gas hog coming and going.
There was another savings I hadn't thought about. Putting a bike into the commuting equation allowed the 3 adults who live at home to go our different ways but comfortably share 2 motor vehicles. So we gained transportation flexibility without adding a car payment, insurance payment and maintenance, while still keeping an open space in the driveway.
And, I had a good time riding and burned some calories instead of fossil fuel.
What did I learn? >>>SOS