Commuter Story: Boulder Hybrid Journey

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This story from Greg of Boulder, Colorado…

When we moved to Colorado, my first thought was, “Look at all these lunatics riding their bikes in the snow!” Then I started working with people who owned MORE THAN ONE bike and paid more for a bike than I thought possible to spend on one. Slowly, the collective bike consciousness started to work on my psyche. I bought a dept store “ATB” and a Bell hard shell helmet. I eventually “upgraded” the steel parts for used aluminum parts (a large used parts market being one of the benefits of living in Boulder) and reduced the weight from 47 lbs to 32 lbs. I started venturing out in the cold, gradually accumulating the necessary winter coverings, safety eqpt and maintenance items. After a few years I’d become one of the lunatics I had sworn at when we first moved here.

Like many folks, I live in one community & work several communities away. It’s too far for me to bike the entire way (93 miles, round trip), so I put my bike in the car and bike part way. Because my bike is not commuter-friendly (no rack attachments & no room for fenders), I usually only ride from March thru September when the weather’s good (above freezing, & 30% or less chance of rain). I don’t get to ride as often as I did when I lived and worked in the same community, but it’s better than not bike commuting at all. Right now I’m averaging about two times a week. I’ll ride more when we get out of springtime and the weather stabilizes a bit. I hope to build up a good commuter this summer so that I don’t have to watch the weather reports so closely.

I’ve done a few calculations and the numbers came out like this:

  1. Since I bike on surface streets rather than freeways, I can take a more direct path to work when I combine biking with driving. I end up saving 50 miles of driving each time I add biking.
  2. Even though driving on surface streets lowers my gas mileage, I only drive 42 of the 93 miles I’d normally drive. This means I get approximately 62 mpg to cover the same distance to work. I’ve become my own hybrid vehicle!
  3. Even though driving on surface streets is slower to cover the same distance, I only drive for 1/2 hour instead of an hour. I then bike for an hour, which only adds an extra 1/2 hour each way but gives me the benefit of two hours of exercise.

When I started bike commuting, we only owned one car for ten years. Although I can reduce my car operational & maintenance costs by adding cycling as part of my commute, it’s not enough to also lower my insurance to “recreational” status. The last time I worked in the same community as where I live, I was riding the entire way to work year-round. I only put 4,000 miles/year on my car and my insurance company lowered my rates.

As a bonus for me this year, the local paper ran a short Earth Day Tips story on my combo commute:

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