Our commute to work has, in a way, become a large part of our lives. In fact, we spend about 8% of our workdays traveling to and from work. And there’s not much we can do about that unless, of course, we choose to pay an extortionate amount of money in rent for a dingy apartment that’s a five-minute walk away from the office. But that goes against the whole point of reducing our piling expenses in a recession-hit world that has only recently begun recovering.
And if you’re looking for painless ways to cut your expenses, you might want to consider biking to work. Switching to cycling from driving or public transport, however, benefits more than just your wallet – and here’s how.
1. You Say Goodbye to Traffic Jams
On average, Americans take 25.8 minutes to get to work and about 38 hours a year sitting in traffic. And it’s much, much worse for workers in cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington DC who spend a shocking 67 hours a year in the car inching along the freeway or waiting for a bus or train – that’s more than a week’s worth of full-time work.
Cycling, however, can get you to work much faster. In fact, Pablo Jessen and his team at the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon looked at over 11 million bike trips in Lyon, France and found that cyclists travel at almost 15km/h during rush hour which, as you can image, is a hell of a lot faster than traveling to work by car.
2. It’s Way Cheaper than Driving
Owning a car is expensive, and you probably don’t need a report to tell you that.
Between the price of gas as well as insurance, taxes, and maintenance, owning a car puts you back an average $8,698 per year, according to AAA’s Your Driving Costs study (PDF) earlier last year. Owning a bike, on the other hand, saves you almost 25 times less than what owning and maintaining a car would, at just a little over $350 per year.
3. You Get to Exercise for Free
If you hate going to the gym or can never find the motivation to do a single pushup when you wake up in the morning, cycling could give you the incentive you need.
With an average weight loss of 13lbs a year, cycling is one of the easiest ways to lose all that extra weight you’ve gained over Christmas and haven’t been able to get rid of since. It also increases stamina; reduces the risk of coronary heart disease by 50% if you bike 20 miles a week; burns approximately 300 calories per hour; and helps you tone your legs and upper body.
It’s basically a gym on wheels for every multi-tasking worker.
4. You’ll Get Paid to Bike to Work
The daily commute is a cost that goes largely unrewarded; however, beginning on January 1, 2009, bicycle commuters have been entitled to a monthly $20 tax-free reimbursement for bike-related expenses including storage, parking, repairs, accessories (a helmet and bike lock, for example), as well as shower facilities and even the purchase of a decent bicycle.
The Bicycle Commuter Act was introduced to put cyclists on the same footing as people who received tax breaks for driving or taking public transport to and from work. Twenty bucks isn’t much (especially when you consider the fact that drivers and public transit users can claim up to $255 per month), but it’s something.
5. You’re More Likely to Get Sick Taking Public Transport
Germs are everywhere, and if you’re quite the germaphobe, public transport is probably your worst nightmare. In fact, researchers at the University of Nottingham confirmed what we always suspected: we’re more likely to get sick by taking public transport than riding to work by car.
The 2011 study found that you’re six times more likely to suffer from an acute respiratory infection (ARI) if you recently used a bus or tram, but those who used public transport on a daily basis are, apparently, a lot safer than occasional users.
Meanwhile, another study conducted at the Weill Cornell Medical College identified 637 bacterial, viral, fungal, and animal species lurking on New York City’s subway system including E. coli, salmonella, and staphylococcus. They also revealed that almost all DNA present on the subway’s surfaces did not match any known organism.
6. You’re Less Likely to Call in Sick
A 2010 study of 1,236 Dutch employees found that those who cycled to work were less likely to call in sick compared to their non-cyclist counterparts by one day.
While it might not seem much, that one day can work wonders for businesses across the world. In fact, sickness absenteeism costs US businesses a whopping $576 billion – yes, billion – a year.
7. You Won’t Have to Worry About Parking
One of the great benefits of biking to work is that you won’t ever have to worry about finding a parking spot again. While your driver colleagues spend ages looking for a spot they can fit their cars into, often a good five-minute walk away from the office, you’ll have parked your bike and have already started work.
However, this, of course, does not apply to you if you live in Amsterdam where bikes outnumber cars by an estimated 800,000 to 263,000. Meanwhile, it appears that London is slowly following suit, according to a Transport for London study. Car levels in the city center have dropped significantly from 137,000 in 2000 to 64,000 in 2014, while bike numbers have seen a sharp rise from 40,000 in 1990 to a whopping 180,000 in 2014.
Can you think of any other reasons why we should all bike to work? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below! And if you know someone who needs an incentive (or seven) to start biking to work, don’t forget to share this article with them!