9 Ways Life Is Wonderful When You Swap Your Car for a Bike

Have you ever thought about ditching your car and finding a new way to get around? Making your bicycle your best friend may be the smartest move you can make to save money, burn calories, and generally improve your life.

If you're searching for a reason to pull the trigger on the all-bike lifestyle, consider these nine ways that life is an amazing when you eschew the car. (See also: 5 Best Cities for Going Car-Free)

1. You'll Save Money on Gas

Okay, so let's say you have a 30-mile roundtrip commute. And let's say you're spending $2.25 per gallon on gasoline. If you get 30 miles per gallon on your car, you're spending about $2.25 a day on gasoline. That's $11.25 a week, or more than $500 per year. Ditch your car, and that's money back in your pocket. And best of all, when gas prices spike, your commuting expenses will stay the same.

2. You'll Save Money on Insurance

No car means nothing to insure. And this means money saved. The average cost to insure even a basic sedan was $1,222 per year in 2015, according to AAA. That's a significant chunk of change back in your pocket.

3. You'll Save Money on Maintenance

A bike might need some repairs and a tuneup now and then, but the cost of this work is nothing compared to a car. AAA reports that the average driver spends $792 annually on car maintenance. Add that to the cost of gas and insurance, and you can see the thousands of dollars saved by ditching the car and going for the bike.

4. You'll See More

Whenever I ride my bike, I always end up noticing new things about my surroundings. It might be a new small business in my town, renovations to an old home, or a park in need of some cleanup. It's a rather nice feeling to see your environment unfurl itself in front of you as you ride. It's so much easier to see what's around you when you're not enclosed inside a vehicle.

5. You'll Shop More Locally

One downside to riding a bike everywhere is that you obviously can't haul a lot of stuff. This means no long trips to the Super Walmart for groceries. But, it also means that the shopping you do will be done locally, possibly to the benefit of smaller, independent stores. Proponents of the Shop Local movement claim that if you spend $100 at local small stores, $68 will stay in your community, compared to $43 for big chains.

6. Exercise!

There's no question that cycling is great for your health. According to an online calculator from bicycling.com, a one-hour bike ride at a moderate pace can lead to more than 500 calories burned, or even 1,000 if you really push the pace. Biking will help you build leg muscles, but is also good for the back and abdomen. And it's generally seen as lower impact than running. One study even suggested that women who bike to work weresignificantly less likely to fracture their wrists.

7. You'll Look Forward to Going to Work

Who gets excited about sitting in a car in traffic, or stuffing yourself onto a crowded subway car? By incorporating a bike into your commute, you're incorporating an enjoyable activity into your daily drudgery.

8. Your Employer Might Pay You

Good employers want their workers to be healthy, so many will incentivize bike commuting by offering cash back as a fringe benefit. The IRS allows employers to reimburse bicycle commuters up to $20 per month for bike-related expenses, such as storage, repairs, a helmet, or the purchase of a bike itself.

9. You Save Time

You might assume that biking will take longer than driving. But this isn't always the case, research shows. Kiplinger reported that half of the commuting population in the U.S. travels five miles or less to work, and that riding a bike that distance can often be faster than driving. As a cyclist, you have access to trails, bike lanes, and side roads that will allow you to avoid drivers and traffic jams.

Have you traded in your car for a bike? How has your life improved? Share with us!

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