== Bike-Walk Alliance of NH ==


Save Time Commuting by Bicycle

The League of American Bicyclists is promoting Bike-to-Work Week from May 12-16 and Bike-to-Work Day on Friday, May 16. Many areas are organizing events on this day; I hope you make an effort to participate.

We have all been affected by the high cost of oil and most of us are considering ways to reduce our consumption of fuel. Mass transit is not an option for most NH residents and carpooling requires accommodating the needs of others. Commuting by bicycle is the best available option for most people. Every mile you use a bicycle instead of a motor vehicle helps reduce our need for oil (and its cost).

Lack of time is often the reason cited for not commuting by bicycle. Bicycle transit time is easily figured at 4-5 min/mi (12-15 MPH) and I consider anything less than 15 miles a viable commuting distance. If you live a distance greater than that, you can drive part way and leave your car in a parking lot.

If you consider only the time spent in transit, then riding a bicycle will take longer. Most people must provide the funds needed to support the vehicle they use so time spent earning this money must also be included. My twenty-five mile (round trip) takes only twenty minutes longer when I use my bicycle instead of a motor vehicle. It costs $.55/mi (AAA) to drive a car so I must earn $60/hr if I work these hours instead of riding my bike. I am paid less than that per hour so I obviously must devote more hours per year to my job (and getting there) if I wish to have the same available income. Transit time on my bicycle takes an extra 100 minutes/week. By spending this time I am able to ride my bicycle 7-1/2 hrs. To have the same fitness level and money I would need at least ten hours more a week for this part of my life.

The time saved commuting by bicycle is irrefutable but requires considerable amount of planning to achieve. There are twenty-four hours in every day and commuting by bicycle requires that different ones are used. Driving to work allows a person to sleep much later and time the arrival at work quite accurately. Weather, repairs and personal energy levels can greatly affect commuting time for a bicyclist. I try to arrive at work ½ hr before start time and eat my breakfast before work starts. This time buffer has proven adequate for most repairs and on a couple of rare occasions I've been given a ride to work by a passing fellow employee. I suppose if I skipped breakfast and drove my car, I could sleep forty minutes longer but I had much more trouble getting to work on time before I started commuting by bicycle. In order to get adequate sleep I must go to bed before anything good is on TV. I would rather live my life than watch others pretend to live theirs.

Many people do not commute by bicycle because they feel it is unsafe. Nothing is without risk so their concern has some validity. Ninety percent of all bicycle fatalities involve an un-helmeted rider and in most cases the cyclist was breaking the law. Accident statistics also show that about the same number of people die due to falls in the bathroom and as the result of bicycle accidents each year. Some people are very cautious but I haven't heard of anybody limiting their bathroom time for safety reasons.

There are many other excuses for not commuting by bicycling but almost all of them can be overcome with a little thought and the proper planning. I have benefited in many ways from bicycle commuting. One of the biggest benefits was the improvement in my planning skills and the ability to define my needs properly. Every child needs to learn these skills and if they are encouraged to use their bikes for transportation they will.

Whenever I encounter a receptive parent I promote the idea of paying their children $.25/mi for using a bicycle instead of being driven somewhere. The parent is going to save money; they must drive twice the distance (@ $.55/mi) or stay there with them. More importantly, the child will learn how to use the bicycle as a transportation vehicle and get a little more exercise. The biggest savings will be in time. The parent will not have to spend the time in transit and somebody is probably going to be waiting around for the other person. Ideally, the parent could ride with the child to and from the destination. Doing a physical activity with a child is a great way to become closer.

by Bill Fisk
GSW Safety & Education Advisor