Gas prices in some places are over $4 a gallon today. In Minnesota, where it’s currently $4.29 per gallon, we have the distinction of being the second highest prices in the country (only Hawaii is currently higher). How quickly we adjust – remember in 2008 when the gas prices were just tipping at $4 – old bikes were dusted off and getting tuned up so people could ride to and from work. Some stuck with it, but for others, gas prices dropped off and they resumed driving.
What if there was a practical way to go by bike and leave the car parked? There is – just think small. It doesn’t need to be some grand experiment to commute EVERY day to work. Your schedule with work, family, and more may be tight, or work may require a 30-40 mile round trip commute and going by bike isn’t a great option for you on a regular basis. On the other hand, trips to a grocery store, going out for dinner or drinks, or to visit friends can be easily accomplished by bike. For me, it’s 3 miles to the grocery store, coffee shop, hardware store and a handful of food options for a date night. If I need something more I can ride 5 miles one way for a ten mile trip.
When possible, I trade a trip in the car to one of these locations for a trip by bike. Over the course of a week, I find it easy to do 25 miles of riding, which is about the distance I can go on one gallon of gas. Currently that saves $4 per week – by the time I hit the Fourth of July holiday, I can take the 8 gallons I haven’t used and use them however I wish – whether to go out of town for the weekend or put the money saved to something else- by Labor day that number will be double.
For most of my trips, a messenger bag or backpack is more than enough to carry what I need, though the key to using your bike more is making it enjoyable, and as the weather heats up, getting the hot bag off your back is a great way to stay cool. Racks, bags, and trailers are great options to carry the load and make it easy to carry anywhere from 30-80 lbs of load.
Put a rack on your bike, grab a bag, put on a helmet and you are ready to go! If you bring a lock and lights, your bike will be secure and you can stay out after dark!
Consider some trips that you can swap the bike for the car and save:
- Grocery store – we’ve said it before, but this is an easy one for most people.
- Coffee – Biking and coffee just go together, but if you find that the ride has woken you up, we don’t blame you!
- Ice Cream – A cone at the neighborhood shop becomes almost guilt free when you had to work to get it!
- Farmer’s Market – With more local farmers markets springing up there’s no better way to be a true locavore!
- Take the kids to school – let’s face it, the family car/van isn’t always the most peaceful place during carpool, why not take it outside!
These are just a few ways to get on your bike and ride more. If you need a little help getting going, Erik‘s can give you the practical knowledge you need. The key is to do it in a way that works for you and will be an enjoyable ride.
We want to know – How do you incorporate the bike into your life beyond riding for recreation?