Gains and losses

Calculating the savings of commuter biking

Or should I say the gains? I started commuting to work several days per week on my bike. I ride from Oviedo to Baldwin Park. One-half my ride is road and then I hit the Seminole and Cady Way trail. Nice ride, best of both worlds. My bag is still a bit heavy, trying to decide what to carry and what to leave at work, but I seem to improve with each time.

I work as a dietitian. What you may not know about nutrition is that we are all about numbers. I am always calculating calories, carbohydrates etc. Now that I commute to work, I love to check the calculators for how much money I save, how long it will take me to pay back my bike spending, and of course, how many calories I burn on my 26-mile round trip.

No doubt that we save money by commuting. No doubt that we burn calories. No doubt that we are “greener.”

However, we gain so much. One thing I actually gain is time. You may wonder how I can gain time by taking longer to get to work. The high traffic and sometimes slow car ride to work can take me 45 minutes. It only takes me one hour to bike. I just love when I pass a long line of cars waiting for three traffic light exchanges.

I could drive in to the gym then drive to work, which would mean leaving my home even earlier. With biking, the workout is already incorporated into the day and I end up leaving later and getting home earlier. None of the calculators takes into account the cost savings of not having a gym membership.

I gain good mental health. Instead of the anxiety of traffic I enjoy the peace on the bike, I arrive to work with well-laid plans and fresh ideas and I arrive back home de-stressed instead of exhausted from the drive.

I continue to be a good role model to my young adult daughters. Let’s face it, these kids have seen September 11 and are currently in college hoping there is a good job out there when they finish. They can watch mom stay healthy, spend wisely, and see how it enhances life.

I gain spiritually. Whether you are religious or not, the peace on the bike gives you time to be reflective. It is too difficult to pray driving 50 mph on a 6-lane road. Well, besides praying for a safe ride home!

I gain the respect of co-workers and patients. I work with Veterans, many of whom ride a bike out of necessity, not a hobby. My coworkers think I am a bit crazy sometimes; this can be a good thing, who wants to be predictable! They all seek me out for health and biking advice, knowing I “walk the walk” and “talk the talk.”

We can all gain by getting out of the car and biking. Give it a try.

4 replies
  1. sanfordbiker
    sanfordbiker says:

    I agree on so many levels. Awesome ride, sounds like. I loose about 45 minutes in drive time, but I gain in so many others during my 24 mile (one way) commute. I am loosing weight, and must learn to pay attention to calorie intake, as well as liquid intake during the day. I gain in respect from co-workers and amazaed humor from freinds who think I am nuts, but they want to know what it is like.

    Keep riding, and keep safe on those trails. I have mixed feelings about riding with all those dog-walkers and stroller-pushers.

  2. Keri
    Keri says:

    I’m curious what the make-up of trail users is during commute hours.

    Based on the routes in our mapmyride group, it looks like quite a few people use Cady Way trail to commute in to town. LisaB has incorporated it into her new route, too.

    What are you seeing on that trail in the AM and PM commute times? Is it crowded?

    Many years ago, I commuted from Goldenrod to Winter Park on Aloma. I used to look at that rail line and imagine how nice it would be to have a trail there. It’s not near my route anymore, but if it was, I’d probably use it.

  3. MaryLu
    MaryLu says:

    for Sanfordbiker- agree about the dog walkers and the kids, definitely have to watch out
    as far as other commuters I have seen a few so I think its catching on. I definitely see school kids, probably a nicer, safer route than the sidewalk

  4. andrewp
    andrewp says:

    Yup, using the same commute path (Cady Way Trail) into downtown (about 11.5 miles for me one-way). AM there are fewer people, mix of walkers, walkers with dogs, and a few bikes. There are definately more people on the trail in the PM commute, and the later you get (after 6:00pm) the more people you see on bikes and rollerblades and jogging.

    Still, it really isn’t bad unless you insist on trying to do 20mph+ — and if you are doing that you’re probably going too fast for the trail and would do better on the street ….

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