bicycling http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/6781/all en-US 7 Hidden Advantages to Getting Rid of Your Car http://www.wisebread.com/7-hidden-advantages-to-getting-rid-of-your-car <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-hidden-advantages-to-getting-rid-of-your-car" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/carfree.jpg" alt="Chevy Nova" title="Chevy Nova" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When my family moved to the San Francisco Bay Area from Chicago, we didn't bring our car. We figured we would get around to buying a new one by the end of the summer. But now, eight months have slipped past, and although we haven't pledged to remain car-free forever, we have been enjoying some of the unexpected benefits of non-car-ownership so much that we haven't felt any rush to buy one.</p> <p>The big benefit we were expecting to enjoy was, of course, saving money.</p> <p>How much money you save depends on how you look at it. If you are going car-free rather than buying a new Escalade on credit, you're saving a ton. But if you are going car-free rather than paying cash for a reliable older car, your savings are more modest. One Wise Bread writer estimated he <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/giving-up-your-car-may-be-easier-than-you-think">saved $2,800 a year</a> by giving up one of his household's cars. I estimated that my family is <a target="_blank" href="http://chicago.frugalisticmom.com/2012/08/car-free-family-how-much-are-we-saving-by-not-buying/">saving about $500 a month by going without a car</a>.</p> <p>But what are the less obvious benefits?</p> <h2>1. Less Stress</h2> <p>When I was a broke student without a pot to cook ramen in, I was amazed by middle class adults who complained that the possessions they gained only added to the stress in their lives. But when we let go of our beloved old Subaru, I realized that there was something to the &quot;more stuff, more problems&quot; lament. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stuff-will-never-make-you-organized">Stuff Will&nbsp;Never Make You Organized</a>)</p> <p>To a busy mom, a car is almost like another needy kid. I needed to remember whether it was parked on the street where it would get a ticket overnight. I needed to remember whether it was due for an oil change and, wait, was I supposed to go by the sticker from the oil change place or check the manual? I needed to keep the kids' bikes from encroaching on the car's space in the garage, and I needed to worry whether that tapping sound after I turned it off meant that it was about to need an expensive repair.</p> <p>Then there's the stress of driving itself &mdash; getting cut off by obnoxious drivers, getting stuck in traffic, worrying about hitting someone while backing up, etc.</p> <p>The great thing about biking and walking is that even though it takes longer than driving, the amount of time it takes is almost always predictable because traffic isn't an issue. And when I turn on the radio to hear that Bay Area highways are all backed up, but know that my husband will be on time for dinner because he's riding his bike from the ferry or train? That feeling is the opposite of stress.</p> <h2>2. More Exercise</h2> <p>Just because you own a car, no one's forcing you to drive everywhere instead of walking or biking. But the truth is, if I owned a car, I would drive on a lot of the errands I currently do on my bike. I would procrastinate leaving the house until it's too late to bike, or I would drive because it looks like rain or because the kids don't want to ride in the bike trailer, and I don't have the energy to argue with them.</p> <p>Not having the option to drive forces you to organize your life in a way that you have time to get everywhere without driving. For me that has meant more exercise and better weight management results than I got from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-legit-ways-to-use-the-gym-for-free">belonging to a gym</a>.</p> <h2>3. More Pleasant Travel</h2> <p>I underestimated how much I would enjoy traveling by bike or foot compared to driving. On the occasions I drive now, I'm surprised by how annoying it is to wait behind a line of cars to turn when I could have simply walked my bike across the crosswalk with the walk sign. Every day I take in gorgeous scenery and enjoy the feeling of the wind on my face. Of course, it helps that I'm living in a mild part of the country &mdash; I can't claim I'd enjoy riding my bike in January if I were still in Chicago!</p> <p>As a mom, I love taking a trip in which at least one of my kids is on her own bike and not strapped cheek-to-cheek with her siblings squabbling. The two little ones still squabble in the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-it-all-car-free-with-a-cargo-bike">bike trailer</a> together, but if I ride fast enough, the wind in my ears can drown them out. Almost.</p> <h2>4. Drive a Different Car Every Time</h2> <p>When we want to drive to take a weekend family outing, we rent a vehicle at the nearby airport. Using Hotwire and Priceline, this has been unexpectedly affordable &mdash; usually about $30 a day including fees &mdash; and we have enjoyed trying out different models of cars instead of always driving the same one.</p> <h2>5. Never Have to Clean the Car</h2> <p>With three little kids riding in the back, my car was usually a pigsty inside. With all the chores in the house, going out to the garage to vacuum it out was not high on my priority list. And washing it with the hose was fun about once a year &mdash; after that it was yet another chore.</p> <p>Now when we drive we get to drop off the dirty car at the rental return and let them deal with it. We were told &mdash; once &mdash; that the rental company may charge an extra fee if you return it <em>really</em> dirty inside, but so far that hasn't happened, not even with the minivan we kept for a month and drove across the country.</p> <h2>6. Feel Better About Your Carbon Footprint</h2> <p>I can't claim that we stopped being car owners out of a selfless concern for the environment. It was more out of desire to save money and just not feeling like car shopping. But that feeling of standing at the gas pump feeling guilty about what I'm doing to the world? It's yet another little stress I don't miss at all. And every time other families at our school see us bike somewhere that they would have thought was too far for kids or too inconvenient, I feel good that maybe we are encouraging others to take fewer car trips as well.</p> <h2>7. Appreciate Your Friends and Neighbors</h2> <p>I cannot count how many times our new neighbors have offered the use of their vehicles to us or offered to pick us up or drop us off places. We almost always politely decline, because usually we have been fine getting around on our own and don't want to save money simply by pushing our costs off onto other people. But simply getting the offer has <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-reasons-why-its-good-to-know-your-neighbors">brought us closer to new friends and neighbors</a>. And sometimes the help has really come in handy, like on the occasional day when it's pouring and another mom from our preschool is driving there, anyway. We find non-vehicular ways to repay those favors and feel our new community grow closer.</p> <p>I can't pretend there aren't also disadvantages to not owning a car. I have avoided signing up the kids for activities I know they would enjoy because they are too far to quickly bike or take public transit, and I feel like picking up a shared car would also be too much trouble with three kids in tow. Life is less spontaneous when you need to sit down and make a transportation game plan every time you want to venture off your beaten path.</p> <p>But so far for us, these hidden advantages &mdash; when added to the big advantage of saving money &mdash; have made the car-free life a worthwhile experiment.</p> <p><em>What advantages, or disadvantages, have you experienced by giving up the car?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-hidden-advantages-to-getting-rid-of-your-car">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cities-for-going-car-free">5 Best Cities for Going Car-Free</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-good-life-on-less-energy-even-in-the-us">The good life on less energy--even in the US</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-life-is-wonderful-when-you-swap-your-car-for-a-bike">9 Ways Life Is Wonderful When You Swap Your Car for a Bike</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-smart-ways-to-boost-your-gas-mileage">11 Smart Ways to Boost Your Gas Mileage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-benefits-of-a-walkable-neighborhood">The Benefits of a Walkable Neighborhood</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Cars and Transportation bicycling car-free commuting frugal transportation walking Tue, 05 Feb 2013 10:36:43 +0000 Carrie Kirby 967561 at http://www.wisebread.com Night Biking: Get Set Up to Ride the Night Away http://www.wisebread.com/night-biking-get-set-up-to-ride-the-night-away <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/night-biking-get-set-up-to-ride-the-night-away" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/night_bike.jpg" alt="Woman with bike" title="Woman with bike" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="146" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Night biking is such a blast, and with the weather getting better and better every day, it&rsquo;s so fun to extend your outdoor play into the night. A quiet ride through the city around dusk offers a refreshing change from day riding. A ride through your small town at night can change your whole perspective on where you live. It might even feel like a completely different place. And it&rsquo;s all good as you stay visible and safe. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-guide-to-becoming-a-part-time-bicycle-commuter">A Guide to Becoming a Part-Time Bicycle Commuter</a>)</p> <h2>Light It Up</h2> <p>First, you have to determine what kind of night riding you want to do and pick the light that&rsquo;s best for you. If you&rsquo;re an urban rider, you can get around easily with a light that doesn&rsquo;t project as far ahead. If you&rsquo;re heading into the woods or darker stretches of country road, you&rsquo;ll need to pick a light with a strong beam that reaches farther and helps light your way better.</p> <p>If you&rsquo;re going to be city-side for your night rides, check out a smaller and cheaper light set like the ones that <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Bell-Night-Trail-Bicycle-Light/dp/B00005BXUU">Bell Bicycles</a> sell. They run between $10 to $20 and can get you started. For the heavy-duty night rider that wants to explore unlit roads or even hit the mountains for a stellar night ride, the MiNewt by <a href="http://www.niterider.com/">NiteRider</a> is the way to go. With three different beam settings and a super long battery life of three-to-six hours, you can&rsquo;t go wrong. At $200, it hits the high end of the light range, but is worth the cost to keep you from getting stranded at night. Don&rsquo;t forget to put on a tail light, preferably one that has different settings, so you can be seen from behind.</p> <h2>Start Reflecting</h2> <p>The next most important piece of equipment you&rsquo;ll need is reflective clothing or tape. Not only do you need to see where you&rsquo;re going at night, but you need to be seen by car drivers. A good pair of bike tights with reflective strips down the sides works well in conjunction with <a href="http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product_10053_10052_520080_-1___">a jersey like the one by AGU</a>. Better yet, get a versatile reflective vest that you can wear year-round over your clothes and add in some reflective cuffs to put over your jacket or pants even in the dead of winter. Adding reflectors to your wheels and the back of your bike will add an element of safety to your ride as well.</p> <h2>Pack Right</h2> <p>Part of staying safe while riding at night is having the right tools with you. Along with a good light set and reflective clothing, you need to keep a good toolkit with the basics: patch kit, pump, allen wrenches, crescent wrenches, and a first aid kit. A handheld flashlight is also a good idea for those times when your bike light goes out or when you need to stop to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-fix-a-bike-flat">work on your bike</a>. An extra set of clothing also serves you well for when the temperature drops or inclement weather sets in, and a pair of glasses with clear lenses helps you ride at night while protecting your eyes. Of course, having more water and more food around can&rsquo;t hurt either!</p> <h2>Practice</h2> <p>Finally, getting on the road at dusk and going for baby rides near your house can help you prepare for your night rides. Your eyes will begin to adjust to the different lighting and the obscurity. You can learn how to feel the road through your tires instead of having to see the whole road ahead of you. And you can learn to anticipate unexpected events, like small animals darting across your path where you can&rsquo;t see them.</p> <p>Once you&rsquo;ve gotten all your gear together and a few practice runs in, it&rsquo;s time to go, because summer&rsquo;s almost here, the night is always young, and your bike is ready. So bike on!</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sasha-a-rae">Sasha A. Rae</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/night-biking-get-set-up-to-ride-the-night-away">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-fitness-gadgets-actually-worth-the-money">5 Fitness Gadgets Actually Worth the Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-exercises-to-do-at-work-that-dont-make-you-look-silly">10 Exercises to Do at Work That Don&#039;t Make You Look Silly</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-resistance-bands">The 5 Best Resistance Bands</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-most-affordable-gym-memberships">5 Most Affordable Gym Memberships</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-keep-your-desk-from-killing-you">5 Ways to Keep Your Desk From Killing You</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty bicycle safety bicycling exercise summer activities Wed, 25 May 2011 09:48:21 +0000 Sasha A. Rae 546913 at http://www.wisebread.com Bicycling Safety in the City http://www.wisebread.com/bicycling-safety-in-the-city <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/bicycling-safety-in-the-city" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000000815498XSmall.jpg" alt="Bike commuter" title="Bike commuter" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A few years ago, I transitioned over to a part-time bicycle commuter. It was a fairly smooth transition considering I live in a bicycle-unfriendly city. One of the reasons I was able to effortlessly begin riding my bike in a bustling suburb that cares very little about cyclists is that I enjoy being outdoors and <a href="http://www.littlehouseinthevalley.com/tuesday-tips-rehash">I really love riding my bike</a>. My passion for bike riding and general common sense as a driver helped me navigate my town's busy streets and traffic clogged arteries. Yet, there were a few safety items I had to keep in mind: <strong>routes, gear, and basic traffic knowledge</strong>.</p> <h2>Choosing Routes</h2> <h3>Most direct routes</h3> <p>I always check a map for the most direct route. <a href="http://maps.google.com/biking">Google bike map</a> is a good start, but I've noticed that it doesn't account for paths that aren't necessarily designated as a bike or traffic path. For instance, one of my more direct paths leads me through a University Campus. Google can't see the wide sidewalk path that I ride on, so it doesn't offer that as a possible route.</p> <h3>Less trafficked routes</h3> <p>If I know the area well and feel the path is too car-heavy, I select a parallel side street that will guide me in the same direction, but with less traffic. Though the route may take me a quarter-mile out of the way, I feel my safety is more important. I'd rather ride for a longer period than be terrified for a shorter one.</p> <h3>Bikes paths and lanes</h3> <p>Bike paths and lanes are sometimes the best way to safely bike around a city. Unfortunately for me, my town has very few paths that connect to one another. Often, the paths start in an unusual area and end a few blocks down the road, making it confusing for both cyclists and drivers alike.</p> <h3>And the controversial sidewalks</h3> <p>Yes, I confess, I ride on sidewalks! Technically as a bicyclist I'm supposed to follow the traffic laws and ride in the street. However, unlike a car, I lack the speed and metal armor. I do make it a point to be considerate of pedestrians; they have the right of way. I also wouldn't ever ride on the sidewalks of New York City or any city where pedestrians outnumber cars.</p> <h2>Safety Gear</h2> <h3>Lights</h3> <p>Front and rear lights are a necessity. I turn on my lights in the middle of the day; not so much for me to see the road, but for cars to see me. I do ride in the evenings and let me just say that lights have saved me on a few occasions.</p> <h3>Helmet</h3> <p>When I first started riding my bike around town, I didn't wear my helmet. Yet, now that I've come close to getting hit by a car bumper on a couple of occasions, I realize that there's nothing really protecting me from severe head injuries! Personally, I like my brain the way it is.</p> <h3>Reflectors</h3> <p>Secondary to lights, reflectors again help vehicles see me. Front, side, and rear, my reflectors give cars a heads-up.</p> <h2>Basic Bicycle Sense</h2> <h3>Intersections</h3> <p>In my opinion, intersections are the most dangerous areas for cyclists. When I ride, I have to watch for cars turning right, left, or flying through red lights. When I approach an intersection, my head is on a constant swivel: It swivels behind my left shoulder watching for right turners, it swivels slightly to the left for red-light runners, it moves straight forward for left turners heading towards me, and finally it swivels slightly to the right for approaching right-turners going the opposite direction. I'm constantly looking for people who aren't looking at me; I always make eye contact with drivers a few feet from my bike!</p> <h3>Driveways</h3> <p>Since I normally ride to the far right on a street or on side walks, I keep a look-out for cars coming out of driveways. Reverse lights are always a clue to slow down and wait to make sure a driver sees me.</p> <h3>Parked cars</h3> <p>Another hazard to street cyclists are parked cars. Not only do they occasionally pull out into traffic, but they also open doors, potentially pushing a bicycle rider into traffic. When I ride in the street, I make sure I'm a couple of feet away from parked cars and keep a close eye on tail lights; brake lights mean the car might be getting ready to move.</p> <p>As the fall weather brings cooler temperatures, I make sure to take advantage of the gorgeous weather by increasing my bike commuting. Being a highly aware bicycle rider and picking direct routes with fewer cars make biking in the city fun and safe.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/little-house">Little House</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bicycling-safety-in-the-city">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-dangerous-mistakes-even-safe-drivers-make">8 Dangerous Mistakes Even Safe Drivers Make</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sensible-ways-to-raise-cash-for-a-wedding">Sensible Ways to Raise Cash for a Wedding</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-ssn-can-now-be-accurately-guessed-using-date-and-place-of-birth">Your SSN Can Now Be Accurately Guessed Using Date and Place of Birth</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-places-to-go-to-beat-the-summer-heat">9 Places to Go to Beat the Summer Heat</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-thoughtful-and-frugal-personalized-gift-ideas">25 Thoughtful and Frugal Personalized Gift Ideas</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> General Tips Lifestyle bicycling bikes safety transportation Mon, 27 Sep 2010 12:00:16 +0000 Little House 245346 at http://www.wisebread.com A Guide to Becoming a Part-Time Bicycle Commuter http://www.wisebread.com/a-guide-to-becoming-a-part-time-bicycle-commuter <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/a-guide-to-becoming-a-part-time-bicycle-commuter" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/395286329_d6510e32e0_z.jpg" alt="biking" title="biking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="165" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A few years ago, I wanted to increase my level of exercise and save money on gasoline at a time when gas prices were the highest they had been in decades. I&nbsp;realized I could accomplish both tasks through commuting to work by bicycle. In some ways, transitioning from the car to the bike was easier than I had thought. In others, however, it required me to alter my daily schedule, which was sometimes rough. In hindsight, I'm glad I was able to make the transition, even if there are times when it is only a part-time achievement. I was able to make the car to bike transition due to a few variables that I&nbsp;was able to control:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Purchasing the right gear:</strong> the bike, racks, lights<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Planning a less-trafficked route:</strong> bike lanes, residential streets, bike paths, and the ever debatable side walk riding<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Altering my schedule to make cycling more enjoyable:</strong> preparing, timing my route, breaking up my ride</li> </ul> <h2>Buying the Right Cycling Gear</h2> <p>Choosing a comfortable bike is definitely a personal choice, but a must for any journey over a couple of miles. After testing out a few models within my price range, I chose a comfort bike with multiple gears so I sit more upright, and not over the handle bars. I can shift into a low gear going uphill and a higher gear pedaling downhill. I also made sure to choose a bike with thicker, wider tires. I now feel pretty confident in my riding that I won't go tumbling off my bike if a ride over a small bump or pothole, but in the beginning any little uneven pavement would make me wobble.</p> <p><strong>The Bike</strong></p> <p>Purchasing a new bike isn't necessary; there are plenty of great used bikes to choose from. Just be sure to have someone familiar with bicycles complete a tune-up; pump up the tires, check the alignment, grease the gears, check the brake pads.</p> <p><strong>Baskets or Carriers</strong></p> <p>Once a bike is selected, you have some optional accessories you can add to your bike. Because I carry a book bag with me to work, I decided on collapsible saddle-bag style baskets. The saddle-bag style baskets attach to a small rear rack that normally doesn't come with the bike purchase, unless you're lucky enough to purchase a used bike with one of these already attached. Other basket alternatives include a front-mounted basket that mounts to the handlebars. <em>Frugal alternative</em>:&nbsp;Of course, if you decide you won't be carrying much with you on a bike, a backpack will do the job just as well.</p> <p><strong>Lighting</strong></p> <p>An accessory that I&nbsp;feel is more a necessity rather than an option is lighting. Even if you don't ride at night or at dusk, having a front and rear bicycle light helps cars see you. You also never know when it may be foggy or overcast; lights can help you be seen.</p> <h2>Finding Bike Routes</h2> <p>Many cities are becoming more bike friendly as people hop on their bikes and hit the streets. However, every city varies. I live in a city that just can't seem to make up its mind; terrific bike lanes happen to end in the most unusual places. So, I've had to get creative when planning out my route. Since bicycles are much more capable of riding through unusual spaces, like small alleyways, parking lots, and university campuses, I've been able to plan a safe route to and from work. Using an online map, I first calculated the shortest distance to work. Unfortunately, that route put me on the busiest of streets and I just didn't feel comfortable riding them. So, I started scoping out side streets. I found a slightly longer route (about a mile and a half longer) that is less-trafficked and a safer alternative. Some things to consider when plotting out your best route:</p> <p><strong>Your Safety</strong></p> <p>If you happen to live in a bicycle-friendly city, you may be in luck with clearly marked bike lanes. If not, you may have to search out side-streets, bike paths, even parks or college campuses that have very little traffic. Part of my route is through a college campus making a mile of my trip practically car-free.</p> <p><strong>Other People's Safety</strong></p> <p>I don't consider bicycles dangerous vehicles. Of course, they can cause minor injuries to you or others if you run into something or someone. Which brings me to side walk riding; sometimes the only route you have available based on traffic in your area. I&nbsp;live in an area where there is very little pedestrian foot traffic, making side walk riding completely safe. However, you will need to use your best judgment when deciding to ride on them.</p> <p><strong>Time</strong></p> <p>Choosing the route with the shortest time sounds like a no-brainer. Realistically, you may have to decide if that route is safe. My motto is safety before length. I'd much rather ride a mile out of my way than get hit by a car.</p> <h2>The Schedule</h2> <p>When I first began commuting by bike, I read that some bike commuters actually rode to work faster than when they drove their car. Though this hasn't been my experience, it also hasn't detered me from riding. Riding to work does entail altering my schedule a bit, meaning I have to make it a point to wake up 30 minutes earlier than if I&nbsp;were to drive. Though I'm not a morning person, a few things have helped me organize my time:</p> <p><strong>Preparation</strong></p> <p>Preparing the night before can be a life-saver. Since I know I can't beat the clock, I prepare my lunch and the items that need to go with me to work (like a change of shirt) the night before. I pack all my items in one book bag that fits snuggly in my basket. Being prepared means I won't forget anything as I stumble out the door half asleep. It also means I can sleep an additional 10-15 minutes later than if I waited to prepare my things the morning of my ride.</p> <p><strong>A Timed Route</strong></p> <p>The weekend before my first week as a bicycle commuter, I timed myself. I realized I needed 45 minutes to ride to work, including the time I needed to pick up my coffee. (The coffee really helps!) I can't say I've been able to shave any time off my route; I seem to pedal at an average of 9 mph no matter how long I've been riding.</p> <p><strong>A Much-Needed Break</strong></p> <p>Since my ride is a solid 6-miles, I usually take a quick 5 minute break right before I hit the point of my route where I can coast downhill a bit. Depending on how long your commute is, you might be able to do without one, or break up your ride with a bus, train, or subway ride depending on the length of your commute.</p> <p>Ultimately, distance and time play a large factor in the viability of becoming an everyday bicycle commuter. However, even part-time commuting can be an enjoyable experience with the right preparation.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/little-house">Little House</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-guide-to-becoming-a-part-time-bicycle-commuter">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-hidden-advantages-to-getting-rid-of-your-car">7 Hidden Advantages to Getting Rid of Your Car</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-it-all-car-free-with-a-cargo-bike">Do It All Car-Free With a Cargo Bike</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-good-life-on-less-energy-even-in-the-us">The good life on less energy--even in the US</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/better-cars-are-not-the-answer">Better cars are not the answer</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/frugal-transport-bicycling">Frugal Transport--bicycling</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living bicycling commuting less expensive reducing carbon footprint saving gas Mon, 16 Aug 2010 12:00:05 +0000 Little House 205753 at http://www.wisebread.com Bike On! Great Deals on All Things Bicycle http://www.wisebread.com/bike-on-great-deals-on-all-things-bicycle <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/bike-on-great-deals-on-all-things-bicycle" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000002157865XSmall_0.jpg" alt="bicyclist at sunset" title="bicyclist at sunset" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The season of skiing and snowboarding and of hunkering down fireside with a large hot chocolate is upon us. Or some of us, but not all of us. For some, the season of the bicycle never ends and for those people, now is the best time to shop. Bike gear from 2009 is mostly gone, but what&rsquo;s left is marked down to ridiculously low prices. Bike shops nationwide are gearing up for the holiday season and offering spectacular deals on bike stuff. It&rsquo;s the perfect time to get your shop on and here are some of the best spots to hit.</p> <h2>Bike Nashbar</h2> <p><a href="http://www.bikenashbar.com/">Bike Nashbar</a> is the online mecca for all things bicycle. Seriously. This place has everything &mdash; and I do mean everything &mdash; you could need. Shorts, jerseys, gloves, any random bike part you just happen to need right away, they have it. For less. Even with shipping costs. They also have wicked holiday sales and impromptu discounts. Sign up for their newsletter so you can stay on top of the goodness that is their bike deals. The downside is that they only ship in the United States and Canada.</p> <h2>Local Bike Shops</h2> <p>Swing by your local bike shop and talk shop for a while. They know things &mdash; things you need and want to know. All you have to do is ask. The people who work here just rock. They know where the sweetest local rides are. They can tell you how to fix your bike on the cheap. And they can sell you stuff for super cheap because they often have used bike gear to spare and can cut you a deal on it.</p> <p>This is also the first place to look if you want to buy a used bike. Often the staff members will bring in their old bikes, which they have diligently cared for, and sell it on the shop floor. You might find a two- or three-year-old lightweight road bike tricked out with all the gears you&rsquo;d need for a hill any size &mdash; for a few hundred dollars, a fantastic deal. That same bike bought new would cost between $600 to $800. A new Huffy, with fewer gears and less-sturdy components, would cost around $100.</p> <p>Some of my favorites are <a href="http://www.greggscycles.com/">Gregg&rsquo;s Cycles</a> in Seattle, <a href="http://www.coloradocyclist.com/">Colorado Cyclist</a> in Colorado Springs and <a href="http://www.bicycleway.com/">Paul&rsquo;s Bicycle Way of Life</a> in Eugene, Oregon. Check them out. You won&rsquo;t be sorry.</p> <h2>Performance Bicycle</h2> <p>Started by bike fanatics out of a garage in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, this super bike shop is now nationwide with stores in 15 states, but you can get anything you need online. <a href="http://www.performancebike.com/bikes/TopCategories_10052_10551_-1">Performance Bicycle</a> is the easiest shop for me to find when I hit a new town and because their fare is standard across the shops, I know I&rsquo;ll always find the brand or style I&rsquo;m looking for. Every shop has a mechanic and can make adjustments on your bike. Their prices aren&rsquo;t always the best, but they are consistent, which is nice if you&rsquo;re in a hurry and don&rsquo;t have time to shop around.</p> <h2>Bike Expos and Swaps</h2> <p>Teeming with thousands of bike enthusiasts, packed with the best bike gear around, and filled with awesome deals, the bike expos can&rsquo;t be missed. If you&rsquo;re in the right spot at the right time, you&rsquo;ll hit the bicycling jackpot. Getting the goods here is all about timing. Some super bike expos have already passed, like the <a href="http://sfbikeexpo.com/">San Francisco Bike Expo</a> that finished a few weeks ago, and some are yet to come, like the <a href="http://www.cascade.org/eandr/expo/index.cfm">Seattle Bicycle Expo </a>that&rsquo;s coming in March. Check out the expos in your region. They&rsquo;re happening all the time.</p> <h2>Other Places to Hit Up</h2> <p>Secondhand sports stores offer an assortment of all things sports related and are worth a shot when you&rsquo;re looking for bike stuff. The caveat here is that they don&rsquo;t keep a standard stock, so if you&rsquo;re looking for something specific, you may be disappointed. If you&rsquo;re just looking around, though, you can stumble across great deals. A good one is ReCycled Cycles in Seattle.</p> <p>Other spots to check are <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/super-sports-gear-for-less">outdoor gear shops</a>, such as REI or Big 5 Sports. They generally offer a small selection of bike apparel and accessories. In a pinch, they&rsquo;ll do.</p> <p>Or you can check out the local bicycling clubs. Truly, these riders know everything there is to know about bike stuff in your area. They ride hard all the time, they know where to find things and they&rsquo;re always happy to add more bike enthusiasts to their ranks. Great ones to check out are the <a href="http://fremontfreewheelers.org/">Fremont Freewheelers</a> and <a href="http://www.westernwheelers.org/main/schedules/index.htm">Western Wheelers</a> in the San Francisco Bay area and <a href="http://www.cascade.org/Home/">Cascade Bike Club</a> in the Seattle area. Of course, most cities and towns have cycling clubs. A quick Internet search can help you find them, as can a stop by your local bike shop. Check the bulletin boards for details.</p> <p>Once you&rsquo;re decked out, it&rsquo;s time to hit the trails. So saddle up and bike on! The season is now.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sasha-a-rae">Sasha A. Rae</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bike-on-great-deals-on-all-things-bicycle">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/could-you-save-money-by-subscribing-to-an-addictive-game">Could you save money by subscribing to an addictive game?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-cost-of-full-time-travel">The Cost of Full-Time Travel</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/50-ways-to-have-free-outdoor-fun">50+ Ways to Have Free Outdoor Fun</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cheap-ways-to-display-your-art">How to Cheaply Display Your Art</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/want-free-hbo-or-showtime-just-ask">Want Free HBO or Showtime? Just Ask.</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Art and Leisure bicycling bike gear outdoor sports Wed, 02 Dec 2009 15:00:02 +0000 Sasha A. Rae 3911 at http://www.wisebread.com The good life on less energy--even in the US http://www.wisebread.com/the-good-life-on-less-energy-even-in-the-us <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-good-life-on-less-energy-even-in-the-us" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/bicycle-on-rural-road.jpg" alt="Bicycle on rural road" title="Bicycle on Rural Road" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="185" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Whenever I write a post about energy, I point out that we know it&#39;s possible to have a high standard of living while using less energy--people in European countries do, so it must be possible.  That always draws comments from people who say that things are different here.  When it comes to opportunities for saving energy, that&#39;s simply not true.</p> <p>Oh, sure, the Europeans have a much better train system.  In the US we&#39;ve spent that money on airports and highways.  But we do have <a href="/travel-on-amtrak">passenger rail</a>, and it&#39;s actually a pleasure to ride.</p> <p>Many European cities are also more compact than many US cities, making it easier to get around on foot or by bicycle.  But there are plenty of nice, compact US cities.</p> <p>Mass transit is spotty in the US compared to Europe, but there&#39;s <a href="/high-tech-for-mass-transit">good mass transit</a> in many US cities.</p> <p>Many European cities are more friendly to bicycles than many US cities, but there are plenty of cyclists in the US, and many US cities are bicycle-friendly.</p> <p>So, all these things exist in the US; <strong>they&#39;re just not widely distributed.</strong></p> <p>I&#39;d like to make two points in relation to that observation.</p> <p>First, as fuel prices continue to rise, all these energy-saving advantages that the Europeans have will become more widely distributed in the US as well.  As long as you live in a town or city (as opposed to a <a href="/rural-living-in-a-world-with-expensive-fuel">rural area</a>), these advantages will come to you eventually.</p> <p>Second, you can choose where to live:  In a compact, bicycle-friendly city that&#39;s on an Amtrak line and has good mass transit, or someplace else.  </p> <p>Making a drastic change like where you live is not something to be done lightly.  Doing it smoothly may require a long lead time.  There may be jobs to find--even careers to change.  There may be houses to sell.  There may be elderly relatives that you&#39;d rather keep in their long-time home than move to another city.  There may be children who&#39;d much rather graduate from school with their friends then at some new school where they don&#39;t know anybody.  But, even taking all that into account, you still choose where to live--now and in the future.</p> <p>I&#39;d like to gently suggest that waiting for these advantages to come to you is probably the wrong choice, for three reasons.</p> <p>First, you miss out on the advantages in the meantime.  You&#39;ll be having to buy more fuel than people who live in communities that support efficiency. </p> <p>Second, as those advantages come to more and more places, you&#39;ll be stuck paying for them.  If you move someplace where these advantages already exist, you&#39;ll be taking advantage of ones that have already been paid for.  If you stay where you are, you can expect taxes to go up to pay for bringing rail and mass transit to you.  No doubt the costs will end up being spread around--but that just means that the people who get these advantages last will have been paying longest for everyone else.</p> <p>Third, these advantages will increasingly be reflected in property values.  It&#39;s already started.  A couple decades ago, being on a bus route was a negative.  (It brought undesirables--i.e. poor people--to the area.)  More recently, it&#39;s been pretty much a neutral.  (Even poor people have cars, so who cares?)  Just very recently, though, it&#39;s begun to boost property values.  (Quick test:  look in real estate ads and see if they&#39;ve started mentioning being on a bus line as a positive.  They&#39;ve always done it for apartments.  Now they&#39;re doing it for houses too.)  Property values in communities without these advantages haven&#39;t suffered much yet, because communities that provide no services can have low taxes.  But as the taxes go up anyway, the lack of services will drive property prices down.</p> <p>As fuel prices continue to rise, these &quot;European&quot; advantages will spread.  But they&#39;ll spread pretty slowly.  The US has spent trillions of dollars on infrastructure that really only useful for cars and planes.  Things like nationwide passenger rail and citywide mass transit systems don&#39;t just pop up overnight--they&#39;ll cost trillions of dollars as well (although a just a few billion will bring us much closer to the Europeans).</p> <p>Some of you--probably many of you, given the sort of people who read Wise Bread--already live someplace that has some or all the advantages that Europeans have enjoyed for decades.  As I see it, the rest of you can move to where you have these advantages as well, or you can stay where you are.  But, if you make the latter choice, you&#39;ll not only lose out on the advantages, you&#39;ll do so while still having to pay taxes to provide them for everyone else, and then you&#39;ll have to sit back and watch as your property values decline and the values of the properties in places that have them go up, making it more and more expensive to move in the future.</p> <p>Is your local area on the leading edge for any of these things?  Are you on an Amtrak line?  Do you have a good bus system?  Are there places to live that are within walking distance of shopping and jobs?  Are the roads safe for bicycles?  If you&#39;ve got some of these things, and the rest are coming, then you may be set already.  If not, be sure your plan for the future includes not just higher prices for fuel, but also higher taxes to pay for the infrastructure improvements your area needs.  If that doesn&#39;t appeal, be sure your plan includes moving to someplace that supports a lower-energy lifestyle.</p> <p>We know there are ways to have a high standard of living while using less fuel.  The Europeans have demonstrated one for us.  We&#39;re heading that direction as well--our present course simply isn&#39;t going to be affordable much longer.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-good-life-on-less-energy-even-in-the-us">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cities-for-going-car-free">5 Best Cities for Going Car-Free</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cut-your-electric-bill-with-solar-panels">Cut Your Electric Bill With Solar Panels</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-hidden-advantages-to-getting-rid-of-your-car">7 Hidden Advantages to Getting Rid of Your Car</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/better-cars-are-not-the-answer">Better cars are not the answer</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-infrastructure-destiny">Is Infrastructure Destiny?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Cars and Transportation Green Living Real Estate and Housing bicycling bike buses clean energy conserve energy energy mass transit rail save energy train train travel walk walking Thu, 10 Jul 2008 12:18:50 +0000 Philip Brewer 2227 at http://www.wisebread.com Less corn planted, despite ethanol http://www.wisebread.com/less-corn-planted-despite-ethanol <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/less-corn-planted-despite-ethanol" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/illinois-barn.jpg" alt="Illinois Barn" title="Illinois Barn" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="186" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Prompted by high prices (driven by demand from ethanol production), farmers planted more acres of corn last year than any year since 1944.  This year, though, planned acres for corn are down 8%, and soybeans are back up to normal.</p> <p>That&#39;s the word from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in their <a href="http://www.usda.gov/nass/PUBS/TODAYRPT/pspl0308.pdf">Prospective Plantings</a>, released today.</p> <p>Because of where I live--central Illinois--last year&#39;s huge increase in corn planting was something I could see on a daily basis.  Bicycling out in rural areas around Champaign-Urbana, I&#39;m used to seeing soybeans in about a third of the fields.  Last year, it seemed to be barely half that.</p> <p>The usual ratio is a result of the crop rotation that farmers seem to use around here, planting corn two years and then planting soybeans for one year.  Corn requires large amounts of (increasingly expensive) nitrogen fertilizer.  Soybeans, on the other hand, add nitrogen to the soil.  In addition to balancing some of the nutrient demand on the soil, switching to soybeans for a year helps with pest control.  If you plant corn year after year, you can expect corn pests to get worse each year.  A year of soybeans greatly improves the situation.</p> <p>Last year, the agricultural radio reports were full of news (and ads) on how to grow corn for a third straight year on the same plot of land.  Seeing all that corn was worrisome to me--you could point your finger in any direction and point at agricultural practices that were even more unsustainable than usual.</p> <p>It seems, though, to have been a one-off move to take advantage of a record surge in corn prices.  The (entirely predictable) result has been a surge in the prices of other agricultural products, and farmers are moving things back toward normal.  Corn planting will still be higher than usual, but soybean planting (after a huge drop last year) is right back up to recent levels.  Other grains show a mixed bag--sorghum and oats are down, barley (important for beer and scotch drinkers) is up, wheat is way up.</p> <p>With things trending back toward normal, the result will probably be more of what we&#39;ve been seeing lately--higher prices for agricultural commodities, leading to higher food prices.  You can&#39;t figure that the current high prices are an aberration; high prices of agricultural commodities are the new normal.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/less-corn-planted-despite-ethanol">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-foods-that-are-only-labeled-organic-but-really-arent">5 Foods That Are Only Labeled Organic — But Really Aren&#039;t</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/concession-stand-treats-a-license-to-print-money">Concession stand treats – a license to print money.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-delicious-ways-to-use-canned-corn">15 Delicious Ways to Use Canned Corn</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/horizon-organic-milk-is-it-all-just-lies">Horizon Organic Milk: Is it All Just Lies?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/optical-illusions-that-make-you-fatter-and-your-wallet-lighter">Optical Illusions That Make You Fatter and Your Wallet Lighter</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Food and Drink agriculture barley bicycling corn ethanol grain soybeans USDA Tue, 01 Apr 2008 00:26:51 +0000 Philip Brewer 1963 at http://www.wisebread.com Better cars are not the answer http://www.wisebread.com/better-cars-are-not-the-answer <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/better-cars-are-not-the-answer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/cars-in-apartment-lot.jpg" alt="Cars in apartment lot" title="Cars in apartment lot" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="81" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Wise Bread is an optimistic place. There are some people who can't see the congruence between optimism and frugality. I'm talking about the sort of people who point to our progress from <a href="http://www.deldot.gov/static/projects/archaeology/wynn_wilson_lewis/intersite_inter_arch.shtml">360 square foot houses</a> to <a href="http://www.nahb.org/publication_details.aspx?publicationID=2028">2400 square foot houses</a> and say that, if your vision of the future doesn't have us all in 16,000 square foot houses pretty soon now, it's a pessimistic one. This article, though, isn't about houses. It's about cars.</p> <p>Posted as part of <a href="http://blogactionday.org/">blog action day</a>.</p> <p>Why do we care about cars? Because they use energy. Energy which, for the past hundred years has been fantastically cheap, but which over the next hundred years will become much, much more expensive. Energy use which has always produced pollution, but which we can see ever more clearly is a threat not only to our way of life, but our very lives.</p> <h2>Do cars matter?</h2> <p>In the United States, 28.5% of our energy consumption goes for transportation, and most of that (about two-thirds) goes to move people from where they are to where they want to be--mostly in cars and so-called light trucks (a legal category of vehicle designed for light cargo hauling but used for personal transportation because of unwise tax and regulatory policies). (Data from the U.S. Department of Energy <a href="http://cta.ornl.gov/data/index.shtml">Transportation Energy Data Book</a>.)</p> <p>Hand-in-hand with its fraction of energy consumption, transportation contributes a comparable share to carbon emissions as well (33%, according to the U.S. <a href="http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/1605/ggrpt/carbon.html">Energy Information Administration</a>).</p> <p>So, transportation is a big deal, and personal transportation (i.e. cars and things we use like cars) is the biggest chunk of transportation.</p> <h2>Better cars?</h2> <p>A lot of people look at that and say, &quot;Ah ha! What we need are much better cars! Cars that use less fuel, and cars that use different fuels--renewable fuels!&quot; Those people are wrong. What we need--and what we're going to have whether we like it or not--is much less driving.</p> <p>Of course, we will get better cars. Cars will become more efficient and there'll be new fuels and new technologies--hybrid, hydrogen, and plug-in electric cars; cars burning ethanol, bio-diesel, coal-to-liquid, and other even more exotic fuels. But none of that will preserve our car-driving way of life. There are many reasons. Two big ones are:</p> <ol> <li>We can't solve the climate change problems with a few little--or even big--tweaks to the way we run our cars. It's going to take <a href="http://environment.newscientist.com/article/dn12775-zero-emissions-needed-to-avert-dangerous-warming.html">major changes</a>.</li> <li>The energy needed to run around in your own car is going to get too expensive. The total world quantity of crude oil produced has been flat for about three years, despite record high prices. If these prices can't draw more fuel out of the ground, farms, and laboratories.... Well, then we'll get higher prices.</li> </ol> <p>Cars could be made a lot more efficient, simply by making them smaller and lighter. That'll happen automatically, once energy gets a lot more expensive. The average car got <a href="http://www.bts.gov/publications/national_transportation_statistics/html/table_04_23.html">22.4 mpg in 2004</a> (the average light truck considerably less). Among cars currently being sold in the U.S. fuel efficiency tops out at about <a href="http://www.edmunds.com/reviews/list/top10/119083/article.html">60 mpg</a>. Much better is possible--we'll see 120 mpg in the short term, as gasoline prices continue to rise. Making the shift as higher and higher prices force it, though is a slow, painful way to change, with the bulk of the pain falling on poor people, because the higher prices hit them first, and because they don't have the capital to invest in fuel-efficient cars.</p> <p>Because there are so many things that will help--new car technology and new fuel technology--and so many good ideas and bits of good news being reported--we see a perverse result: People to look at the long list and imagine that surely one (or a few) of these ideas will pan out, and that our car culture will go on in the future much the same as it has in the past. The ideas <em>will</em> pan out (or many of them will), but it won't be enough to preserve our car-driving way of life. The climate change problems are too pressing and the energy supplies are no longer growing--which means that prices will have to rise to balance the still-growing demand.</p> <h2>What then?</h2> <p>We face a world with less driving.</p> <p>If we accept that soon enough, there's a lot we can do--restore the failing railroad infrastructure, for one thing. Quit wasting money on airports and widening roads and putting up multi-level parking structures. Those aren't things that an individual can have much impact on (although at a local level it's possible, and worth trying).</p> <p>As an individual, start arranging your life so you don't have to drive so much. Walk more. Bicycle more. Take the bus more. If you live too far from work, think about moving, or changing jobs, or both.</p> <p>In the short term, also do all the things other articles on saving fuel recommend: Make sure your tire pressure is right. Combine trips. Drive conservatively. If you need a new car, buy a fuel efficient one. But none of that's going to be enough.</p> <p>Soon--sooner than you think, unless you've been paying attention to the oil production figures--you're going to have to drive less. Plan for that. Arrange your life now, so that driving less won't be a burden.</p> <p>The sooner you do it, the better off you'll be. It will give you more time to work out the kinks in your personal strategy for driving less. Also, it's frugal to drive less and it's incredibly frugal to live car-free. The money you're no longer spending to buy, fuel, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/auto-insurance">insure</a>, and maintain a car can give you a huge boost to your standard of living and your savings.</p> <h2>Why so optimistic?</h2> <p>This may not sound like an optimistic vision of the future. It is, though.</p> <p>I look at the future and see cars becoming less common and less important. They'll become smaller and more fuel-efficient as well, but the dominate trend will be fewer of them on the road making fewer trips.</p> <p>I view that change with great optimism. I see a future where communities are walkable--where housing, jobs, and shopping are close together. I see a future where people bicycle to work and to run errands. I see a future where light rail links bedroom communities with city centers and industrial centers, so that people who don't want to live in cities can still work in them and so that heavy industries that people don't want next door can still exist and still have workers. I see a future where high-speed rail links my town with the nearby cities--Chicago, Indianapolis, St. Louis.</p> <p>I'm optimistic, because that's the future where I want to live.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/better-cars-are-not-the-answer">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/frugal-transport-bicycling">Frugal Transport--bicycling</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-good-life-on-less-energy-even-in-the-us">The good life on less energy--even in the US</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-my-clunker-is-smarter-than-a-hybrid">7 Ways My Clunker Is Smarter Than a Hybrid</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cities-for-going-car-free">5 Best Cities for Going Car-Free</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-life-is-wonderful-when-you-swap-your-car-for-a-bike">9 Ways Life Is Wonderful When You Swap Your Car for a Bike</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Cars and Transportation Green Living bicycling car hybrid cars Personal transportation transport Mon, 15 Oct 2007 13:53:46 +0000 Philip Brewer 1288 at http://www.wisebread.com What's your frugal obsession? http://www.wisebread.com/whats-your-frugal-obsession <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/whats-your-frugal-obsession" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/mouse.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It&#39;s easy to assume that only insanely frugal people go out of their way to save money - but that isn&#39;t always the case. Even people who spend money like there&#39;s no tomorrow have personal frugal obsessions - items or services that they just can&#39;t imagine spending hard-earned money on. My 96 year old neighbor still mows his own lawn, even though he can afford to pay a neighborhood kid to do it. Some people refuse to pay for bottled water; others refuse to shell out $4 to rent a movie when they can get them from the library for free. Frugal obsessions aren&#39;t always entirely rational, but that&#39;s not the point.</p> <p>Wise Bread bloggers aren&#39;t free from frugal obsessions, even those of us who aren&#39;t technically that frugal to begin with. Surely Wise Bread readers must have their own obsessions or habits that save money, and more importantly, offer a sense of satisfaction? Share you stories with us in the comments and be entered in a random drawing to win a $25 gift certificate from Amazon.com.</p> <p><strong>This drawing is over.  Congrats to <a href="/whats-your-frugal-obsession#comment-107643">Shabbir</a>, the winner of the drawing.</strong> <strong>Thank you to everyone who participated!</strong></p> <h4>Philip Brewer</h4> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u14/philip.jpg" width="85" height="85" /> </p> <p>I bicycle for lots of reasons besides frugality--it&#39;s fun, it&#39;s healthy, it&#39;s gentle on the planet--but I take particular pleasure in bicycling past those poor suckers putting $3 gasoline into their SUVs. (I recognize that this is a character flaw on my part.)</p> <p> For some reason--maybe the &quot;gentle on the planet&quot; part--I get a lot more satisfaction out of saving twenty-odd dollars by not needing to fill the Civic&#39;s tank than I do out of considerably larger savings in other budget categories. </p> <h4>Justin Ryan</h4> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u14/justin.jpg" width="85" height="79" /> </p> <p>I&#39;ll go with, surprise surprise, Free/Open Source Software. I just don&#39;t understand suckers who actually buy software; why pay $300 for Microsoft Office when you can get OpenOffice for free? (Don&#39;t get me wrong: I hate shoddy freeware. I&#39;m only interested in legitimate Free Software.) If I counted up all the money I&#39;ve saved running a half dozen computers with Open Source Software, I could probably buy another six and start up a cluster.</p> <p> I walk through the aisles at Staples and Office Depot and laugh at the outrageous prices people are paying. I chuckle at the thought of other people actually going out to buy packages, then struggling to get them to install, while I sit in my pajamas and use <em>apt-get</em> to install anything I need. I hear about people getting shuttled back and forth between Dell and Microsoft with problems, and I think &quot;Hmm, and all I have to do is hop on IRC for all the support I could ever need.&quot;</p> <p> It&#39;s very freeing, and very frugal...It&#39;s like being a bird, flying over a field full of sheep. </p> <h4>Will Chen</h4> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u14/will.jpg" width="85" height="85" /> </p> <p>I can never get over paying for soft drinks at restaurants. How can anyone pay $1.50 for root beer when they can get the same thing at the supermarket for 25 cents?</p> <p> Why pay for the extra markup? Where&#39;s the added value? Is it the straw, the dirty glass, or the extra opportunity the waiter has to spit in your drinks? I don&#39;t mind paying for good food. I recognize that the chef and the waiter have important skills that I don&#39;t possess. But I can certainly pop open a can of Pepsi by myself, thank you very much.</p> <p> One of these days I&#39;m just going to start bringing cans of soda into restaurants. That&#39;ll show &#39;em. </p> <h4>Julie Rains</h4> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u14/julie.jpg" width="64" height="85" /> </p> <p>All-natural ice cream.</p> <p> I gotta have it but I can&#39;t stand paying full price. Usually there are &quot;buy one, get one free&quot; sales every other week; so I buy two cartons at a time one week and none the next. But somehow, the grocery store (not me, mind you) got off track and went an entire month without a sale. I broke down then, but it was only because I wanted ice cream to go with a cake for my husband&#39;s birthday.</p> <h4>Ed O&#39;Reilly</h4> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u14/ed.jpg" width="85" height="85" /> </p> <p>I used to have cable in NY. Eventually, I added a bunch of channels to what I already had – mostly because it seemed like the basic channels I subscribed to kept showing the same movies over and over. You can watch &quot;Kindergarten Cop&quot;, &quot;Lethal Weapon&quot; and &quot;Big Fat Greek Wedding&quot; only so many times.</p> <p> I finally decided to pull the plug: if there was no way to get only the channels I wanted a la carte, then there was no point in keeping my subscription. I ended up getting DVDs thru Netflix after that and was satisfied with the selection and price. </p> <p> I don&#39;t have cable now, and don&#39;t watch any shows on &quot;free&quot; TV, but I do occasionally rent a DVD from Blockbuster. I don&#39;t feel like I&#39;m missing anything, really, and I can&#39;t believe how much I used to pay each month for what amounted to disposable and rather dull entertainment.</p> <p> So I save a little cash and feel that my time isn&#39;t dictated by the TV schedules. Also, I notice that many people arrange their furniture (or a whole room) so that the TV is the centerpiece.</p> <h4>Linsey Knerl</h4> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u14/linsey.jpg" width="58" height="85" /> </p> <p>I save every bubble envelope, shipping box, and packing peanut I ever receive. With over 4 shipments sent to my home a week (for business and personal), it starts to get a bit ridiculous and overwhelming after awhile. That being said, I ALWAYS find a use for them. Whether it is for storage of off-season clothing, shipping Ebay orders, helping a friend move, or just to give my boys a fun afternoon art project, I never seem to have too many boxes.</p> <h4>Paul Michael</h4> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u14/paul.jpg" width="85" height="85" /> </p> <p>Boy, I am going to sound really cheap on this one but mine is gift wrap, greeting cards and all of the associated bows, ribbons and bags. I personally think there&#39;s some kind of conspiracy going on between the government and Hallmark. Did we really have so many days to celebrate 30 years ago? Anyway, I&#39;ll make most of my own cards for family and friends, I just can&#39;t handle paying $5 for someone else&#39;s idea of sentiment. Gift wrap, I&#39;ll either find the cheapest one in the aisle or find some creative way to wrap it using scraps of paper. Let&#39;s be honest, it all gets ripped off in seconds anyway. And if anyone gives my family presents in gift bags or boxes, they get stored away to reuse later on. Cheap? Maybe. But it seems a crying shame to throw away a perfectly good gift bag or box. You&#39;ve heard of re-gifting, well in my house we re-giftwrap. </p> <h4>Andrea Dickson</h4> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u14/andrea.jpg" width="80" height="80" /> </p> <p>For me, the obsession is with plastic bags and plastic wrap. Ever since I was little, I&#39;ve been loathe to throw away Saran Wrap or ziploc bags - I just can&#39;t bring myself to use something like that once and then throw it away. It&#39;s ironic, since I don&#39;t extend the same thinking to styrofoam take-out containers. But if I have to use a sandwich bag (and I rarely do - I generally use tupperware containers) I will wash and reuse the bag until it&#39;s full of holes and completely unusable. Same goes for Saran Wrap - I&#39;ll wash it off and fold it up until I need it again. </p> <p> My mother thinks I&#39;m nuts - she&#39;ll come over and see baggies drying on a paper towel on my kitchen counter, and roll her eyes in the most exaggerated way possible. But I only have to buy sandwich bags every three years or so, and it makes me feel better. Is that so bad?</p> <p>Share your parental money lessons in the comments section and get entered in a random drawing for $25 Amazon Gift Certificate! </p> <p> Deadline to enter drawing is 10/13 midnight. Don&#39;t forget to enter your email address in the field provided and only one entry per person.</p> <p><strong>This drawing is over.  Congrats to <a href="/whats-your-frugal-obsession#comment-107643">Shabbir</a>, the winner of the drawing.</strong> <strong>Thank you to everyone who participated!</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-your-frugal-obsession">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-star-wars-can-inspire-you-to-save-money">9 ways Star Wars can inspire you to save money.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-you-really-need-soft-water">Do You Really Need “Soft” Water?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/will-a-dental-discount-plan-save-you-money">Will A Dental Discount Plan Save You Money?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-great-things-to-do-with-your-spare-change">25 Great Things to Do With Your Spare Change</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-simple-household-repairs-every-frugal-person-should-master">10 Simple Household Repairs Every Frugal Person Should Master</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living bicycling frugal obsession savings Mon, 08 Oct 2007 14:45:47 +0000 Andrea Karim 1263 at http://www.wisebread.com The two-mile challenge http://www.wisebread.com/the-two-mile-challenge <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-two-mile-challenge" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/bicycle-with-sunbeams.jpg" alt="A bicycle next to a bike path, with sunbeams shining through tree branches" title="Bicycle With Sunbeams" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="203" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="/frugal-transport-bicycling">Bicycling for transportation</a> is something that&#39;s important to me, so I was immediately attracted to the <a href="http://www.2milechallenge.com/home.html">2-mile challenge</a>. </p> <p>According to these guy&#39;s statistics, 40% of US urban travel is 2 miles or less. The site uses Google Maps to draw a 2-mile circle around your address, and challenges you to substitute bicycle trips for car trips to destinations within that circle. It&#39;ll also provide a list of places to ride--grocery stores, coffee shops, banks, parks, public transport, and more--all within 2 miles of your address.</p> <p>Personally, I&#39;m just as prone to walk as to ride for a large fraction of those trips--there&#39;s a lot within 1 mile of my apartment. And my own ride-versus-drive decision has a lot more to do with things like how much stuff I&#39;m expecting to bring home and whether there&#39;s a secure place to lock up my bike at the far end, than it has to do with whether the destination is close. But still--the mapping tool is cool, especially with the possible-destination list, and I figure that anything that encourages people to ride rather than drive is a good thing. </p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-two-mile-challenge">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/better-cars-are-not-the-answer">Better cars are not the answer</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/rolling-stone-article-on-ethanol">Rolling Stone article on ethanol</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jar-of-nothing-the-perfect-present-for-the-picky-prick-in-your-life">Jar of Nothing: the perfect present for the picky prick in your life</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fbi-considered-its-a-wonderful-life-communist-propaganda">FBI Considered &quot;It&#039;s A Wonderful Life&quot; Communist Propaganda</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bottled-water-bottled-hype-part-1">Bottled Water, Bottled Hype Part 1</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Extra Commentary bicycling transport Thu, 04 Oct 2007 19:58:03 +0000 Philip Brewer 1249 at http://www.wisebread.com Frugal Transport--bicycling http://www.wisebread.com/frugal-transport-bicycling <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/frugal-transport-bicycling" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/bike-on-bike-trail.jpg" alt="biking it" title="biking it" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="153" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Three years ago I started bicycling to work.</p> <p>It was a gradual thing. It took extra planning to ride--there were issues with clothing, issues with carrying stuff on the bike. I'd usually only ride if I thought of it the night before and the weather forecast looked good.</p> <p>Wanting the exercise was what got me started. It takes me about 25 minutes to bicycle from my apartment to the office, versus 15 minutes to drive. So, an extra 20 minutes spent commuting gets me 50 minutes of aerobic exercise.</p> <p>There are other ways to get exercise, though, and the bicycling wouldn't have persisted if it hadn't had other things going for it:</p> <ul> <li><strong>It bookends the work day psychologically.</strong> The ride in to work gets me warmed up and ready to be productive. The time, motion, and effort of the ride home helps me unwind and leave the office behind.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>It's frugal.</strong> You can get a perfectly good bike from a bike store for just a few hundred dollars, and a few tens of dollars a year will keep it in tip-top shape essentially forever. (That's if you pay a bike store to do the maintenance. If you know about bikes and are handy with tools, you can probably cut both those amounts by an order of magnitude by finding a bike at a garage sale and fixing it up yourself.)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>It's gentle on the planet.</strong> I've read that there is no more efficient form of transportation than a bicycle. I've never done the math myself, so I can't swear that it beats using a mule to haul a barge down a canal, but that and sailing ships are the only possible contenders.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>It lets me get my smug on.</strong> Actually, a tendency to be smug about stuff like this is a character flaw of mine. I try to resist. But when gasoline prices spiked up in the summer of 2005, I'd ride past gas stations and look at those poor schlubs pumping $3 gas into their SUVs and be enormously reinforced in thinking that bicycling was unquestionably the way to go.</li> </ul> <p>That smugness had another result, though. As the summer of 2005 drew to a close, and I realized that I was about to go back to being one of those poor schlubs (albeit pumping $3 gas into a Honda Civic and not an SUV), I couldn't quite bring myself to do it. On the other hand, I also couldn't quite bring myself to ride my bike in the winter's cold and dark. I ended up riding the bus in the winter. That turned out to work really well. I'd had no idea the local mass transit district was as good as it is. (I'll have more to say about this in the future. Our local transit district is doing <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/high-tech-for-mass-transit">really cool stuff with technology</a>.)</p> <p>My wife and I still have our car, and we use it when that's the handiest thing to do (which turns out not to be very often). The bus is handy for a lot of trips. Walking is the obvious choice when we just need to go somewhere and do something. But bicycling is always my first choice: it's faster, easier, more efficient, and more fun.</p> <p>And that last is really the key. All those other reasons--the exercise and frugality and stuff--they're all true, but even the smugness wouldn't have kept me riding day in and day out. The reason I bicycle is because it's fun.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/frugal-transport-bicycling">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/better-cars-are-not-the-answer">Better cars are not the answer</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-good-life-on-less-energy-even-in-the-us">The good life on less energy--even in the US</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-hidden-advantages-to-getting-rid-of-your-car">7 Hidden Advantages to Getting Rid of Your Car</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/would-you-drive-one-of-the-10-smallest-cars-ever-made">Would You Drive One of the 10 Smallest Cars Ever Made?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-guide-to-becoming-a-part-time-bicycle-commuter">A Guide to Becoming a Part-Time Bicycle Commuter</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Cars and Transportation Green Living bicycling Personal transportation Sat, 14 Jul 2007 00:10:31 +0000 Philip Brewer 837 at http://www.wisebread.com