How To Become a Bike Commuter & Start Saving $$$

Sitting in traffic is a drag. It’s literally the worst, and anyone who tells you different is a liar.

Not only does it suck to be stuck in traffic, but it’s terrible for the planet and your wallet.

What if you could be flying through traffic, passing cars, and getting to your destination much faster than you would be sitting in a car during rush hour, all the while saving money?

Unfortunately, we’re not talking about some futuristic mode of transportation like the hyperloop or a magic carpet.

What we’re talking about is the two wheel, pedal powered bicycle. But the same old two wheeled bicycle that you rode as a kid has received some major updates in the last decade.

For the most part, they’re much lighter, quicker, and depending on the type you want, some even have a handlebar throttle that works with an electric battery to get you up those steep hills faster and with less energy.

The following shows you how to become a bike commuter — the gear you’ll need and how much money you can save in the process.

Where will your commute take you?

The first thing you’ll need to determine before we get into gear is where you’ll be going. Bicycle commuting doesn’t solely mean commuting to work. For some people that’s a feasible idea, their work place is under 20 miles from their house and there is a major route they can use to get there that will be safe.

For other people, bike commuting to work is out of the question, so they’ll be bike commuting to the grocery story or to run major errands during the week.

If you’re not sure whether or not bike commuting to a specific destination will be possible for you, try looking on google maps.

You can put in your destination just like you do when you drive in a car, but instead of selecting a road map, you can select a bike map by clicking the bicycle icon above your starting point.

For example, here at Green Guru Gear we’re based in Boulder, Colorado. If we wanted to ride our bike from our offices in east Boulder to a grocery store in central Boulder, then we would put in our starting and ending points, click the bicycle icon and Google would show us all the major biking routes to our destination.

Other things to consider:

  • Length of Route
  • Elevation Gain (Moderate / Flat Riding or Strenuous / Hill / Mountain Climbing )
  • Climate

Choosing the Right Bike for your Commute

Any bike will work for bike commuting. What’s most important is that you’re comfortable on your bicycle. You don’t even need to go out and buy a brand new bicycle. For the frugal buyer, your best bet for finding a used bicycle is to look on your local area’s Craig’s List.

You can also check out this great list compiled by Gear Patrol called The 9 Best Commuter Bikes For Any Budget.

Electric Bikes

For those of you who have longer commutes than other people, but would really like to get into bicycle commuting to cut down on expenses then we suggest checking out an electric bike.

Electric bike’s have come along way in the last decade or so. They’re cheaper to buy, and are more technologically advanced.

These bikes work the same way as non-motorized bikes except for the fact that they have an electric motor built into the hub of the bicycle along with a handlebar throttle like on a motorcycle. As you pedal the electric bike, you charge the battery that is connected to the motor. When the battery is fully charged, then you can stop pedaling and use the handlebar throttle to control the bike’s acceleration.

Cargo Bikes

Cars don’t only function as just modes of transportation, they also double as cargo haulers.

Lucky for you cargo bikes are one of the biggest trends. You can literally haul anything with them from kids to groceries and everything in-between. Check out these Cargo Bikes from our friends at Cruiser Boutique.

Cargo + Electric Bikes

Don’t want to pedal all your cargo around? Then check out these electric bikes that double as cargo bikes.

Bike Sharing Programs

Maybe a bike isn’t in your budget this month, but you do want to get into the habit of biking. Many cities in America have a bicycle sharing program within their commuter centric areas.

For a full list of bicycle sharing programs in the United States, click here.

Commuting Gear

Once you’ve selected what type of bike you want to buy, then it’s time to get a bag that can stand up to the test of time, while looking good at work or wherever you’re using it.

At Green Guru Gear we make outdoor and urban commuting backpacks, messengers bags, and accessories from upcycled and vegan materials.

Our top recommendations for the first-time commuter are:

Double Dutch Dual 40L Pannier

Freerider 31L Pannier 

How much $$$ can you save?

The savings are based on how much you stop using your car and start using your bicycle.

Let’s say you decide to go all-in. Your place of work is close enough that you can bicycle commute, you feel comfortable selling your car, and you plan to only rely on ride-sharing and bike commuting to get you to your destinations.

Use Kiplinger's Calculator to determine how much you'll be saving each month. 

Maybe it’s just not feasible for you to give up your car altogether, because the distance you go in your car far exceeds what you could do on your bike.

If this is you, then what you’ll be saving on is gas (and maybe insurance). Many insurance companies now have ways to track your driving habits. Some companies put a tracking beacon in your car to measure how much you drive. The less you drive, the less you have to pay.

Besides Monetary Savings

You can save on much more than just costs. The most apparent one is the planet. Reducing your carbon footprint will go along ways to keeping our planet healthier.

In addition to making the planet a healthier place, you’ll also be improving your health by bike commuting.

Research shows that bike commuting is one of the best ways to stay healthy.

It can be difficult to fit a gym workout into your busy work / life schedule, which is why bike commuting is such a great way to stay active. It’s literally like a gym on wheels.