437 comments

Houston Attorney Thrives on Doing The Impossible – Daily

Some of Houston’s cool and under-appreciated bike infrastructure.

In this extremely wealthy country of ours, the chief barrier to wealth is often the information, or misinformation that gets stuck inside our own heads.

People with the right knowledge can develop the right habits, and these habits lead them to accumulate wealth very quickly. Meanwhile, the majority of people pick up incorrect financial ideas and bad habits, leading to permanent debt. But they mingle mostly with their own type, so the failure habits keep spreading.

Sometimes, to break out of the Herd Mediocrity Mindset, you just need to see an example to learn what is possible.

So with that in mind, let’s review an example of yet another allegedly completely impossible thing, that an MMM reader is doing every day.

Jeremy Stone, aka The Rock, engages in a rare – and yet incredibly profitable – activity, in a city that is legendary (in the public mind, anyway) for making this activity completely impossible.

The following tale is drawn from our past year of occasional email conversations.

The Lawyer Who Actually Bikes to Work.
Year-Round. In Houston.

Dear Mr. Money Mustache,

“I’m a lawyer and commute to downtown Houston every day regardless of weather (unless I need to drive somewhere for work), without a handy shower or any special amenities, so it can definitely be done.

I was skeptical too, but my wife pushed me to do it after we got into your blog about 4 years ago, and it’s been one of the best decisions we’ve made.  If anyone complains that they can’t do it because of heat, humidity, needing to dress in a suit, etc, I’m proof that you can do it.”

The Challenge:

Throughout the history of this blog, Houston has become the poster child of Bike Excusitis Disease – the place most often cited as “The Reason I Can’t Bike to Work”.

Houston commuting, as perceived by car drivers (image credit: Politico)

Raised on the slippery black teat of the Almighty Oil Well, Houston was developed for motor vehicles and the metro area now sprawls across ten thousand square miles (6.4 million acres), which means Houston alone is one fifth the size of the country of England. Ironically, the more you optimize a city for cars, the bigger your traffic jams, so Houston has the worst traffic in the US.

And it’s a subtropical steam bath: daily highs exceed 80F / 27C for a full nine months of the year with high humidity year-round.

On top of that, Mr. Stone is a high-ranking official in a law firm, the profession most often cited as one where you can’t bike to work. Lawyers need to wear suits at work, see clients, impress judges, and this calls for the utmost in personal hygeine – scrubbed skin, shaved beards, polished shoes and manicured nails, premium brands and styled haircuts. It’s a hassle, but it is a necessary selling of the soul, in exchange for a six or seven figure income. Right?

With those painful complaints out of the way, we might as well move on to actually solving our problem.

“At first, I thought it was a crazy idea. It wasn’t, and I loved it.

I started commuting on an old but good Trek mountain bike (got stolen), then to a $50 hybrid that was a piece of crap, then upgraded to a fancy Surly Disc Trucker.

Most of this route is nice and easy, because it is mostly on a hike/bike trail. Over the last few years, Houston has been changing old railroad lines into these trails.”

The Route: 

Sunrise in Downtown Houston, as seen from the bike route.

Bike commuting can be superior to driving in every city, but only when you design a route that works for riding your bike. When you drive a car, you will usually end up on the fastest, widest, (and most dangerous) roads, never even realizing that there were parallel bike-friendly options nearby.

“My route takes me through a neighborhood called River Oaks, where the very richest Houstonians have lived for decades.”

Early in our conversation, Mr. Stone shared a map of his bike route with me, and I compared it to Google’s suggested route for driving a car downtown. The distance is about the same, but in a car you end up on the interstate highway, which makes the commute seem completely un-bikeable.

Fig.1: Google Maps view of car vs. bike routes to work. Bikes are surprisingly fast, plus immune to traffic jams and you get free parking.

Key Strategy Note: this ride was made much easier by the fact that Stone lives within 4 miles of work. This didn’t happen by accident: he chose his home and his work strategically to avoid a car clown commute.

Yet interestingly enough, houses in his neighborhood are still only in the $300,000s. If homes so close in are so affordable, why is anyone commuting into downtown Houston in a car?

There is no answer aside from sheer foolishness – those highways will soon be empty after this article gets out.

“My route takes me along the trail along Silver St. in an old Warehouse district, now an artsy district. Then along White Oak Bayou (Houston is built on bayous, not rivers!) as you near downtown, and under an old 150 year old bridge that has been built over. 

Some of these bridges serve as homes for the thousands and thousands of bats here. You can’t see them, but I took this picture at about 6 or 630 am, and there were bats flying all around. The bridge is so low you get to ride right through them!

Biking beats driving – exercise, fun, no traffic, bats, tombs, turtles, snakes, herons!”

The Speed: 

The deceptive thing about bikes is that within a city, your average speed ends up equal to, or even faster than, a car. In big cities, cars average only about 27 MPH even without traffic, and rush hour can cut this speed in half again. Meanwhile, a slow beach cruiser coasts at about 12MPH (the speed Google uses for biking estimates), a fit cyclist rolls at 20, and an electric bike can easily sustain 28 MPH with almost no effort from your legs at all.

So when I’m in a rush to get somewhere in town, I never reach for the car keys – there’s no time to waste puttering around in a gas-powered wheelchair.

The Cars (and other Financial Effects):

Most people in Mr. Stone’s position have huge houses in the wealthy enclaves of Houston, and drive very high-end cars to work. If there is a spouse and family in the picture, they have multiple cars. And yet somehow, the Stone family survives with just one 2006 Honda CRV (market value about $6000), which remains in great condition because it leads such an easy life.

Driven lightly, the total cost of ownership of a car like this is about $2000 per year. Meanwhile, the typical attorney power couple might keep an up-to-date Mercedes SUV and a BMW 5-series. Driven at the US average level of 13,000 miles per year, this fleet would vaporize about $24,000 per year of personal wealth.

Wow, we need to put that shit into a box so more people will see it:

Average family driving
with two typical lawyer-level cars
destroys about $250,000 of your wealth
every single decade.

Still think biking to work is only for poor people? Do you consider an 11-year-old vehicle beneath your standards?

When you are not dependent on cars, you no longer derive your identity from them, which means you can start thinking about them like the appliances they really are. This makes your car costs drop drastically.

But What if I Move Jobs?

Coincidentally, halfway through our conversation, Stone ended up switching employers and acquiring an even better position.

I imagine that the same sharp mind and optimistic can-do attitude that encouraged him to bike to work, were the things that helped him earn this upgrade. But the new office was in a different part of town, further from home.

Did The Rock head straight to the car dealership to purchase a new Chevrolet Suburban like everyone else in Houston? No, of course, he just busted out the map and the brainpower again.

But What About the Heat?

“Until the new job, my office did not have any shower facilities. But I found it was not really a problem: I just keep my clean dress clothes at work, and change out of my cycling clothes once I get to the office. 

Also, making the trip before sunrise (especially in the summer) gives me much cooler temperatures. The ride home can be hot and sunny, but there is always a cool shower and air conditioning waiting for me when I arrive.”

Rock is right. I too biked to school and work throughout my career, in temperatures ranging from 0F to 105F. Long-time readers already know that bike transportation is probably the biggest factor that accelerated, and continues to fuel, my own family’s early retirement.

Some of my workplaces had showers, and others didn’t – but I never even felt the need to use them. In extreme heat I’d just just put on a clean, dry shirt and maybe a fresh layer of speed stick, and settle in to my office to enjoy the air conditioning. Any trace of perspiration or heat was gone within about five minutes.

This is because physical activity, including riding your bike, is normal, not the exception. It’s not a medical procedure or a competition or something you do in an indoor “spinning” class. It’s not an emergency condition which causes your body to shoot feces from every pore, destroying any nearby pieces of clothing and requiring a long, hot shower every time you move so much as a fingertip.

It’s just what happens every day.  So The Rock and I will see you on the streets tomorrow morning – it’s always Bike to Work Day.

Related Reading on the magic of a Cooperative Spouse:

Is Mr. Money Mustache Ruining Your Marriage – Part 2


Is Mr. Money Mustache Ruining Your Marriage? – Part 1

Epilogue

On the day that I finally got around to publishing this post, Jeremy and his lovely wife happened to be visiting my part of Colorado for a wedding and some hiking. So we invited them over for dinner and we had a great time together. I also gave him one of the secret stash of MMM t-shirts that arrived at my place today:

 

  • Neil June 8, 2017, 7:04 am

    Thanks for the inspiration and reminder how much better biking is for commuting! I’m seriously considering getting an ebike for my 12.5 mile commute. How are your ebikes holding up?

    Reply
    • Dave June 8, 2017, 7:09 am

      I have been using one for several months, a relatively cheap one.
      I charge it every two days and it’s been holding up pretty good with the battery capacity, altough I have my bike damaged because I got hit by a car two weeks ago, still didn’t stop me from using it to go to work each and every day tho.
      I should go for it! it might a be a little expensive for a bike but you can use it for years and years and maybe only replace the battery after 5-10 years

      Reply
    • SLay June 8, 2017, 8:17 am

      i’ve ridden an izip/currie for almost 4 years every day to work ~10mi round trip. has help up quite well. they’ve been around for decades, have an initial warranty and you can speak to a tech when you call their cust service 800. !

      Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache June 8, 2017, 8:52 am

      Both of my electric bikes have been trouble-free (except for a bit of self-imposed trouble on my DIY bike, so I’m moving the kit to a different bike).

      The prefab one is a basic Prodeco Storm 500 from Amazon that is still lugging trailers on a near-daily basis due to the new construction project.

      People with excessive money might even consider the new Trek Super Commuter. https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en_US/bikes/hybrid-bikes/electric-bikes/super-commuter/super-commuter-8s/p/1367000-2017/

      At $5k suggested retail ($4300 street price) it is way too costly for most people.

      But if you were considering buying a Tesla to get premium electric transportation, and would like to upgrade it with the Total Traffic Immunity option and Flabby Belly and Heart Attack Prevention options, this will save you about $95,000.

      Heck, although an e-bike should really be under $2000, even a $5k one would save most people a shitload of money, if they are currently pouring it into a car just because they aren’t confident about biking their 15 mile route to work.

      Reply
      • Tristan June 8, 2017, 9:48 am

        I put our e-kit on a long-tail bike. Now I can drop my daughter at daycare on the way to work (12 mile each way). The days she doesn’t go to work I ride my regular bike.
        Only problems I’ve had is a few popped chains. We have some mean hills here and when loaded up it puts a lot of stress on the chain I’ve found. Other than that, it’s great! Even converted my skeptical wife. Now she dumps the car and takes the bike if she wants to take the kid to the park/store/pool/beach.

        Reply
      • Mr. 1500 June 8, 2017, 11:13 am

        Just wanted to mention that my homebuilt (featured right here on MMM) came in far south of $2,000 and is much better than most of the commercial bikes that cost $5,000. It’s fast and has been totally reliable in one and half years of use.

        Reply
        • Jordan June 8, 2017, 12:33 pm

          Absolutely, this article was the inspiration for my own DIY bike. It’s important to point out that for a bit of extra work retrofitting your bike (doable for most any average Joe), for the price you’ll outperform nearly every off the shelf E-Bike out there on both power and range.

          Reply
        • MAD Wealth June 8, 2017, 4:36 pm

          Thanks for that e-bike article reminder. Was just thinking about turning one of our old mountain bikes into an e-bike to help haul tons of heavy construction material this summer, and eliminate our need for a car on the normally massive Costco trips.

          I’ve ridden my bike to meet with potential clients before, and even did so today. Sometimes I’m confronted with confusion most of the time. I know I get judged for it(not in a good way), and it probably has cost me some deals since image is a big thing for my trade. I always have explained every benefit. Some people get it, some don’t. Doesn’t matter how much you stress the fact it could save upwards of $10k/yr there are just people that don’t believe it or care. Understandable. Convincing 100% of people is really difficult, but at least you can say you tried.

          @Matt have you considered using a bike in tandem with public transport? I’m not familiar with San Diego’s system, but I wouldn’t doubt it could be done.

          Reply
      • bastringue June 8, 2017, 12:09 pm

        What about ebikes and winter? Wouldn’t salt damage the bike and cold temperature make the battery less performing? It’s minus 32F for 4-5 months here.

        Reply
        • Myles June 9, 2017, 3:04 pm

          Great question. I’ll do my best to answer from experience. This year I completed my first full winter of e-bike riding to work and back (round trip 15 km) up here in Calgary, Canada. My e-bike was “custom” built by some great guys out of their garage using a kit on a normal mountain bike. The coldest temp I rode in was about -25 C (-13 F). Granted, due to my trip only being about 20 minutes or less depending on the ice and snow conditions, the total exposure time was limited and I always kept the battery indoors/warm when I was not riding. I didn’t notice any loss in battery performance and only charged it every 3 days. The motor got very wet in snowy and rainy conditions frequently but I had a dry place to park it. I only had ONE issue all winter and it was my own fault. I washed the bike at the dollar car wash and one of the electric circuits got wet and sent a message to the computer to stop working. It took a week to dry out. My maintenance crew (funecycle mechanics) re-sealed the motor and re-lubricated everything for me – now it is car-wash tight. The chain maintenance was a bit extra work but if you can keep up with it, it’s not a problem. I thought my chain was done by spring based on it’s red color but I wiped/cleaned/air blew the hell out of it and lubricated heavily. Just rode the bike the other day and it looks and works great. Also, I used studded tires for traction. All in all – I’d say the ebike held up really well. I will report again next year after winter #2.

          Reply
      • Matt June 8, 2017, 3:05 pm

        If you’re gonna spend 5k why not get a full on velo mobile? If they can actually put this IRIS eTrike out for the price they claim it’ll be pretty amazing and great for rainy cities. http://www.grantsinclair.com/en/e-bike/iris-black.html

        Reply
      • Heckler June 10, 2017, 8:20 am

        $3k will get you a Giant Quick-E. Ive been resisting because I like my commute on a light bike that makes me work for my 19 km one way ride.

        https://www.giant-bicycles.com/us/bikes-quick-eplus

        Reply
    • William Bloomfield June 8, 2017, 9:27 am

      For an inexpensive but quality ebike, I recommend the RadCity Commuter ($1,499): https://www.radpowerbikes.com/products/radcity-electric-commuter-bike?variant=27902381121

      My brother rides this. (And Rad Power Bikes seems like a great new company.)

      Reply
      • Tim Needham June 8, 2017, 10:15 am

        Oh man this is so close to what I want. I really wanted a hardtail mountain bike prebuilt but one that didn’t cost a fortune. Thanks for linking this. 20mph max is a little low for my commute on 6 lane roads, but I can probably switch up the route a bit.

        Reply
      • Eric Faucher June 8, 2017, 10:41 am

        Following my read of MMM, I installed a Bafang Mid Drive 1000W on my old Trek. Since then, I drive to work whenever the weather is good (leaving my son to daycare on the way). The main reason why I don’t drive under the rain is that I have to take the main roads since there is no other alternative and there is a lot of heavy traffic (trucks), so safety first. It’s a 38 miles round trip (19 miles takes about 45 min to do). I’ll see if I can do it this winter with my stud tires!!!

        Reply
      • Brenda Linley June 8, 2017, 4:31 pm

        I was just about to comment and mention RadPower bikes. We sold our second car and have the rad wagon, it’s amazing!

        Reply
      • TXSS June 11, 2017, 5:31 pm

        My wife got a Radwagon earlier this year. She has the 5 year old on the rear rack and the 9 month old in a Thule trailer. It has saved a bunch of miles on the one car we have.

        Reply
    • Joey June 8, 2017, 9:37 am

      I bought a Prodecotech Phantom 400 last August (the cheapest one I could find on the market) and I’ve ridden it to work basically every day since then. For my 18 mile round trip commute, it adds about 10 minutes to the commute time vs. my vehicle, but it’s significantly less stressful. I’m right around the 2500 mile mark on the odometer, and it’s holding up well. I did learn that I don’t know how to service hydraulic brakes properly and ended up having the local bike shop fix my mistake for me. I’ve written a pretty lengthy review about it on my website, and try to keep it up to date as I use it: https://www.j3rk.us/reviews/2016/review-prodecotech-phantom-400/

      I’d say the only thing that gets annoying is stoplights that change on me as I’m pulling up to them, forcing me to wait through an entire cycle without a turtle shell (car) to protect me from terrible parents that drive their kids 3 blocks to school. I’m not dead yet, though, so that’s good. As a bonus, even though it’s electric and I feel like I’m cheating, it’s still some exercise. I’ve lost 50+ lbs over the last year, mostly just by riding one of my bikes everywhere instead of using my vehicle.

      Reply
    • Matt June 8, 2017, 10:29 am

      I disagree. In order for this to work you would actually have to live and work in the city proper. Many west coast cities wouldn’t work. Take San Diego for example. The city is so expensive that most people live outside of the city proper. So, people have to commute on I15 or I8 in order to get to and from home. This can be a commute of 50+ miles in some instances. Not exactly implementable. The Los Angeles basin likely wouldn’t work either if you’re commuting from other nearby cities. We’re too freeway dependent here.

      Sure you could ditch the car and move closer to town but in most cases the lack of car payment wouldn’t offset the increase in rent/mortgage.

      Reply
      • FIRE Millennial June 8, 2017, 11:04 am

        I respectfully disagree with your assessment.

        When factoring in locations to live and work, it’s a simple economic equation.

        You could “choose” to live closer to work, and pay more for your housing cost. Since you’re in the metropolitan area, you’ll have increased access to transit and bicycle/pedestrian friendly options.

        The higher cost of your home is offset by the fact that you’re now no longer driving everywhere, spending hundreds of dollars a month on gas, and vehicle maintenance.

        Source: I live in a West Coast, high-cost of living city where I pay more to live closer to the urban core so I can walk and bike to work.

        Reply
        • karouf June 9, 2017, 3:02 pm

          I would also add to that the time saved not commuting from 50+ miles out.
          Not something to be sneezed at as in the end time is all we’ve got.

          Reply
        • Nicolas June 12, 2017, 10:40 am

          Great point. I will add the obvious point that renting in a higher cost of living area is often the cheapest option. My commute is 2 miles by foot or bike and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Sold my car 3 years ago and never looked back.

          Reply
        • Susan June 18, 2017, 9:04 pm

          Another respectful disagreement: I lived in greater LA (Torrance) and commuted by bike to El Segundo for a number of years. We chose our house location in order to have an easy commute to work but that didn’t stop us being close to the beach. It took about the same amount of time to ride to work as it did to drive and was faster than taking the bus, which required several blocks of walking at each end. I rode various routes over the years and ended up with one that was flat and almost traffic free, although that did mean giving up riding the beach bike path.

          Unfortunately, my current home is not so bike friendly. It’s 13 miles to town, partly on narrow mountain roads with no shoulder and the rest on a 4-lane highway. I could have chosen better from that point of view but I love where I live and I don’t have to work, having retired at 46. (I had adopted most of MMM’s strategies even before I knew of him.)

          Reply
      • Deanna June 8, 2017, 11:59 am

        I live in a really nice, more affordable area of the San Gabriel Valley and go to school in LA. I bike to the train station, about 5 miles away from home or drive to my parent’s house who live less than a mile away, take the train with my bike (costs $43/month at student price – cheaper than the $150/semester parking pass at school), then finish the commute with the bike. You have to get creative in SoCal, but it can be done.

        Reply
      • Heather June 8, 2017, 12:13 pm

        I disagree with this. I lived and commuted in San Diego via public transportation and bicycle for years. You can even bring your bicycle on the trolley and bus to utilize both public transit and pedal power. There are also plenty of affordable neighborhoods within San Diego County. I’m hard pressed to think of an area that’s further than 10 miles from somewhere affordable. Even if you live in La Mesa or El Cajon and commute to Downtown, that’s a pretty easy trolley and bike ride and saves you the headache of the I8.

        Reply
      • drf June 8, 2017, 1:16 pm

        Why would anyone live in San Diego/California unless they were a millionaire? Move! Whatever job you have there can be had elsewhere for much less cost of living.

        Reply
        • Andres June 8, 2017, 1:54 pm

          Hah, exactly. Cities in CA have screwed themselves by refusing to build housing. No job is worth the hassle and expense of dealing with housing and transportation in many Californian cities.

          Reply
        • MARISA June 9, 2017, 3:06 pm

          Hubs was *thinking* about moving to San Diego..I was like heck no. Who want to pay state income tax…yikes.

          Reply
      • nathan June 8, 2017, 4:21 pm

        I was always able to find something near the beach that was similarly priced to the apartments out off I15 or I8. If not I could always find something a bit smaller, but life was always better closer to the beach even in a smaller apartment.

        Reply
      • Skippy June 8, 2017, 5:18 pm

        In that case the thing you need is a “velomobile”. It’s a recumbent tricycle with a body, so it goes really fast under human power (40km/h cruise, no assist) and it can be had completely weatherproof. I read of w guy with an electric on being about a minute slower on a 40 minute commute

        Reply
      • Derek June 8, 2017, 6:33 pm

        While there aren’t any places around 300,000 (like in Houston) I know there are decent places to live in San Diego near SDSU, University Heights, South Park, North Park, etc. L.A. however is a different animal…

        Reply
      • luytterlinde June 20, 2017, 12:45 pm

        Sorry, I must respectfully disagree. We live car free in downtown Toronto, fast becoming one of those ridiculously expensive housing markets…but, of course, per MMM, we did the math. It’s actually CHEAPER to live car-free in the city than it is to move to the ‘burbs by the time you add up all the costs.

        Been car-free for 10 years and counting, and would never buy one again. We belong to Enterprise Car Share (for the few times we need to run an errand that we can’t use a bike for), we have public transit within minutes of our door, and will rent a car for the odd weekend trips out of town. Yes, we have a smaller house and postage stamp-sized backyard, but hubby’s now FIred, I’m transitioning to part/time (staged exit), our respective commutes were 15-20 minutes as opposed to upwards of 1 1/2 (hello, who wouldn’t want to have more time to spend with your kid?), and city amenities (pools, community centres, public beaches, playgrounds) more than make up for not having a larger house.

        Reply
    • Dave C June 8, 2017, 10:52 am

      I’ve been using one for a 11 km commute. Bought the kit for about $1100. Some issues at the start but since those got sorted it has been trouble free (only the bike itself has required some basic work, not the kit). Plus the added speed is super fun. I generally pedal just as hard as on a normal bike; I get to my location much faster. Overall I definitely recommend.

      Reply
    • karouf June 9, 2017, 3:14 pm

      Mine is a Matra I-Flow (I’m from France) that looks like this one : http://matra.com/urban/urban/i-flow-free-n7-2017.html
      I’ve been using it for the past 3 years and apart from regular maintenance, nothing to worry about. The battery doesn’t hold up as long as it used to but that’s expected after about 2 years.
      I don’t have a long commute: 2.5km but I sometimes do it 4 times a day and year round.

      As for getting an ebike, I think it’s a great investment: we now have only one car and the savings are substantial. Also I don’t have a shower at work and being someone who sweats easily, I really appreciate the electric motor. It’s comfortable not to start the work day all sweaty, and I think my colleagues appreciate that too :)

      Reply
    • Alicia June 14, 2017, 2:12 am

      Hi Neil,
      I have an e-bike for my 22km round trip work route and it is the bomb! I live in Perth, Western Australia and ride all year round! I’ve clocked up to 4000km’s on my bike now and love it more every ride. Its hassle free, little maintenance and doing shift-work means I can put in as little or as much energy as I have to spare :) I would recommend putting a electric bike kit on a hybrid or mountain bike though – my kit is on a road bike and it’s pretty bumpy at 40km/hr!

      Reply
  • Dave June 8, 2017, 7:07 am

    Lovely article!
    I have recently started working as a software engineer (passed the one year mark today) after college and I have been biking since day one and I plan on keeping it that way.
    Never even wanted to buy a car, the 22KM round trip each day is a way I can empty my mind from all the work I have done that day, and it saves me alot of money so I can go buy a house much sooner than if I’d had a car.

    Reply
    • Mr. Freaky Frugal June 8, 2017, 11:09 am

      Plus a house actually has a chance to appreciate where a car does not!

      I’ve been an MMM disciple for a long time and the MMM lifestyle seems to attract a lot of engineers. Maybe it’s just the way their brains work? Before I FIREd in 2012, I was also a software engineer.

      Reply
      • John June 8, 2017, 12:01 pm

        Before I FIREd in 2015 (Thanks MMM!), I was also a software engineer.

        Reply
        • Lauren June 9, 2017, 8:13 pm

          I would love to know MMM’s Myers-Briggs type. I am an ENTJ and the only Rainbows and Unicorns person in my entire workplace group of ISTJ/ESTJ accountants and engineers. They all think my plan is crazy.

          Reply
          • Nick J June 10, 2017, 9:56 am

            My wife is an ISTJ and I’m an ISTP. All personality types can get on board with Mustachianism. Perhaps we have different motivations for doing it. My wife just likes the security of saving money. I like being active and independent.

            Reply
            • Ann June 14, 2017, 6:13 am

              I’ve often wondered about the MMM Myers-Briggs type. I think he is ENTJ.

              Reply
  • Scott June 8, 2017, 7:07 am

    I’m a lawyer in Red Deer (pop:100,000) and either bike or walk to work year round, albeit at only 1.5 miles. I keep all ties, shoes and suit jackets at work and its pretty straightforward. It is never that hot in the morning. Even -30(C) is pretty bearable in shortish bursts.

    Reply
    • Kristina June 8, 2017, 10:03 am

      Ok, -28C is where my internal hub, and brake lines really start to freeze up…

      What on earth do you drive that’s ok to -30?

      And I love my 2.5k winter commute in Calgary… my co-workers are shocked at how little I wear for my brief excursion, but biking really does keep your body warm. I just overdress the extremities and always have a winter coat in case I have to walk.

      Cheers fellow frostbiker ;)

      Reply
      • Scott June 8, 2017, 10:54 am

        I really only walk in the winter. Minus 25 about the threshold where long underwear come out ;)

        Reply
        • Kristina June 8, 2017, 5:23 pm

          Ha – gotcha,
          I walked twice this winter, and took the bus twice… I take fresh snowy days off as the city takes a day or two to plough the path so I can get back to biking.

          Biking is faster than walking, and more reliable then the bus – but it does require a different route then my summer ride, and a block or two of sidewalk riding.

          Reply
          • Myles June 9, 2017, 3:12 pm

            Hi Kristina, way to go on the bike commute. I’m a fellow Calgary bike commuter (I commented on another post above about my first winter ebike experience.) I am lucky to have a shower downtown at work which I used way more often in the winter than I do in the summer because of all the layers of clothing as well as getting soaked by wet snow and roads. I just have a cable brake line to my disc brakes (which only froze up the one time I took the bike to the car wash). First time I’ve seen a fellow YYCer on the comment thread.

            Reply
    • Mark June 12, 2017, 1:29 pm

      Humidity is the big factor. I can bike to work here in Dallas and not break a sweat. When I did the same in Baltimore I’d be soaked after a few minutes.

      Reply
  • Gwen June 8, 2017, 7:08 am

    This is one of those things I would love to be all about……. but my city is literally not set up to be bikeable. It’s 11.2 miles by car with an average speed of 60 mph as it’s mostly interstate. Driving there takes 20 minutes, and going home about 25 minutes. According to Google Maps, it would be 12.5 miles to work via bicycle that would take almost 90 minutes! This is via the beautiful path next to the river. One reason it would take so much longer is the lack of bikeable paths across the river. To cross it I have to go out of my way.

    Just live closer to work! I did at one time. I lived 1.5 miles away and it didn’t take me any more than 10 minutes to get there. Unfortunately I live and work in two different states and refuse to live on the other side due to political climate and significantly higher taxes (income, property, and sales). I look forward to the day I can quit working and move to a place that’s much more bike and walk friendly.

    Reply
    • Tobias June 8, 2017, 7:29 am

      I hate to be _that_ guy, but this sounds awfully complainypants to me. I can totally understand your argument for not moving closer to work, but let me make an alternative suggestion:

      How about getting a fancy ebike for the commute? 12.5 miles seems to me to be in the range that ebikes are *made for.* You can easily whizz along at 20-25 mph, plus you get a great (but not too strenuous) workout, because these things usually don’t engage the electric motor unless you also pedal.

      Based on the numbers MMM posted above, a mid-level ebike should amortize itself within 2-3 months based on the savings you’ll have in fuel cost and car wear.

      Reply
      • Matt June 8, 2017, 10:37 am

        I have to agree with Gwen, there are some places that this is just not feasible or practical. Depending on different goals and lifestyle choices, not everyone wants to live right next to work. Nor should people be made to feel like they have to in order to meet a certain financial goal. Take people doing the Temecula to San Diego or Temecula to Orange County/Anaheim commute for example.

        Reply
        • Tobias June 8, 2017, 11:18 am

          You are arguing against statements I have never made.

          One: I have not in any way dismissed Gwen’s arguments for living rather far from work by Mustachian standards. They’re good arguments, hence why I acknowledged them and moved on.

          Two: Your examples are both SIXTY MILE COMMUTES. Of course these are not possible to do by bike or ebike! They are firmly in what MMM calls (and I concur) Car Clown territory. But again, commutes like these are not part of this particular discussion!

          Three: Gwen’s commute, on the other hand, is definitely part of the discussion – she started this thread, after all. Her commute is 12.5 miles, which is square in the middle of the range that can be comfortably done by ebike within a half hour. Hence why I suggested getting an ebike for commuting.

          Reply
        • Drew June 8, 2017, 12:11 pm

          It is absolutely feasible and practical—you just have to move closer to work. You’re dismissing that option out of hand because of “lifestyle choices”… whatever that means.

          I grew up in San Diego and have lived in LA/OC for over a decade now. So, speaking as a native, why the hell would you ever live in Temecula? :D

          Reply
          • SumahDeez June 9, 2017, 8:44 am

            Agreed. I live in San Diego currently and I work with an office full of people that move further and further out each time they move. It makes no sense. They spend 2.5 hours on average in traffic each day, they are always dropping the car off at the shop, and always complain about how they have no money. And don’t get me started on how they bring in starbucks each morning and go out to eat lunch each day. Of course you have no money or time to do anything. It takes all I can to keep my mouth shut most days.

            Housing is usually more expensive to live close to work in San Diego. I agree there. But you also save on commute time, fuel, and vehicle maintenance, insurance, etc. Again, the “time” you save is more important to me than anything.

            While I don’t personally bike to work, I have no real excuse other than being fat and lazy. I do live within 10 miles and hardly use my car on the weekends so I am getting there slowly. The point is I spend 30 mins or less in traffic most days so I’m home with a beer an hour before most of my colleagues. San Diego is doable but I also think it makes sense not to live here financially.

            Reply
        • wishicouldsurf June 8, 2017, 3:55 pm

          I’m jumping on the Tobias train here, Matt. If you work in San Diego or Orange County, there is absolutely NO REASON to live in Temecula and commute 60 miles. It’s by definition the absolute antithesis of a Happy City. Even before my MMM awakening, I always felt like that commute was completely insane when I would drive by that line of cars once a month when I used to have to visit a client in the Riverside area. Plus, have you been to Temecula? Sure you can get a huge, more square footage than you could possibly need house and have plenty of room to park your 2-3 cars and your RV and boat that sit there 99% of the time while you commute back and forth to San Diego wasting your life in the car and making money to pay for all your toys you don’t have time to use. In Gwen’s defense, she is making a mindful trade-off mostly with her time and with a reasonably distanced commute. It seems to me that she is valuing potentially a couple hours of her time as more valuable (right now) than an enjoyable bike ride. :) No offense Gwen, but by putting it out here on the comments, you had to know you were going to receive a little bit of ribbing. p.s. my husband also went to nursing school at San Diego State, Matt.

          Reply
    • mrsmopp June 8, 2017, 7:47 am

      Hang on a sec – your route to work would take you via “the beautiful path next to the river”, and you don’t commute by bike even just sometimes? Just for the sheer pleasure of being out on the bike on a lovely day before being cooped up in the office all day?

      Let’s put aside the fact that even on my antique steel bike I can do 12.5 flat miles in <60 minutes, and the fact that maybe your car commute + workout takes up more time than biking both ways would. How about just biking to work once a week, when the weather is nice, and seeing how you like that? It doesn't have to be all or nothing (well, 'all' would be great but we have to start somewhere).

      Reply
      • Gwen June 8, 2017, 8:07 am

        Nope. The river is over the banks, closing part of the path, and there are other parts closed due to construction. This is also the time of year Mayflies are out in full force.

        I also forgot to mention the elevation changes- down the bluff 150 ft, across the river, and up the 200 ft bluff on the other side.

        Reply
        • Mr. Money Mustache June 8, 2017, 8:16 am

          Step one is to ignore those Google Maps bike estimates. They assume an almost-walking level of speed. Get an e-bike and you can do a mile every 2.5 or 3 minutes.

          A personal car commute is NOT an option, Fiery Millenial! Where’s your fire!? All I see here are Wet Soggy Excuses!

          Reply
          • Gwen June 8, 2017, 8:19 am

            Love ya to death, Pete, but this something I sacrificed when I moved to this area. Next place I move will be better :)

            Reply
            • Mr. Money Mustache June 8, 2017, 8:23 am

              Your only sacrifice is in your attitude, Soggy Millenial!

              12.5 miles is only a car commute when you need to carry more than the 100 pounds that fits easily in a bike trailer!!!!

              Reply
              • mrsmopp June 8, 2017, 9:04 am

                Pretty soggy. I can understand people not wanting to commit to biking 25 miles every day right away, but not even every now again because sometimes there are flies and flooding and construction? And – OMG!! – a hill? Huh.

              • Jim H June 8, 2017, 10:10 am

                It’s called “badassity” for a reason. The excuses come easy and free. 😀

              • Lauren June 9, 2017, 9:00 pm

                Another soggy Millennial here. Last year, as part of our FIRE plan, drastically downsized to a small house ~7 miles from work (used to bike at 3 miles from old house). I work rotating 12 hour shifts (rarely hit traffic), and there is a major incline to account for on the way home.

                I chose the small $100k house (cheaper cost and utilities) and the 7.5 mile clown car commute after doing a cost-benefit analysis. I also have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which means any type of exercise requires 2x the energy used by most people (plus a few other “fun” assorted effects).

                Only throwing this up here because I am not one for excusitis, but used both financial and health factors when deciding to move farther from work and no longer cycle to work, and there may be others having to choose certain Mustachian values over others due to legitimate reasons.

              • mrsmopp June 10, 2017, 3:52 am

                Trying to reply to Lauren: The difference between your post and Gwen’s is that you state that you made a choice to do what you do, whereas Gwen implies that the universe makes biking an impossibility for her.

                I may not *like* your choice on the face of it (although what do I know about your circumstances?), but I *respect* the fact that you acknowledge that it’s a choice. I used to bike to work twice a week and drive the rest. There were things that would have made biking every day very difficult, but I could have got round them had I chosen to. I just chose not to; there was nothing impossible about it.

              • Gwen June 16, 2017, 11:04 am

              • Lauren June 17, 2017, 10:31 am

                replying to mrsmopp: Good distinction.

              • Glen June 21, 2017, 5:41 pm

                Oh, she’s definitely firey. But what’s burning is a big stack of $10 bills. And every times she straps on the red nose and climbs into the clown car another couple Hamiltons go up in smoke. It’s not okay to pump gross amounts of toxic waste into the air just because you enjoy it, and it’s convenient and you can afford it. Look, none of us is perfect, but we should be acknowledging our ridiculous behavior and laughing at it and using it to help us behave better, not defending it and trying to justify it because we are otherwise nice people.

            • James June 8, 2017, 9:54 am

              Gwen, I never thought I could commute by bike. Not enough time with young kids + too big a hill where we live.

              …but one day 4 years ago, I was working from home on a beautiful spring day. I had to go into the office in the afternoon for a stupid face to face meeting. So, I decided, hmmm, maybe I could ride my bike.

              IT WAS AWESOME!

              I didn’t start riding all the time because of my previous excuses. But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do it again. So I started doing it occasionally. Soon I was hooked and riding 3x a week (telecommuting the other 2). After a couple years the pointy haired know it alls at work canceled telecommuting… so sad. But on the plus side, I now get to bike to work 5x a week.

              It’s still awesome. And I live across the lake from ridiculously rainy Seattle. This winter was wet almost every day. But a rain jacket and some fenders along with dry shoes at socks made it easy.

              If you don’t like biking, well, maybe that is the real reason for not doing it. But I would at least give it a try. Find a really nice day when you’re not in a rush. It will be worth it.

              Reply
            • skeeder June 9, 2017, 6:29 am

              In all fairness, this is something that all of us will make. While their are ways to reduce cost in almost everything we do, somethings we take as a trade off.

              Gwen seems like a smart gal or guy, I’ll just assume he’s done the math on this one so he knows exactly what he is giving up by driving over biking.

              Reply
        • daniel son June 8, 2017, 10:09 am

          Are you in Minneapolis? It sounds like you are describing the path along the Mississippi River through the Twin cities. If so, I commute 8 miles each way year round from St. Louis Park to downtown (20-40 minutes depending on the season) and work as a Internal Auditor. It is really easy compared to driving. And as far as the path closures there are empty side streets with bikes paths that run along side it.

          Reply
          • Erin June 8, 2017, 10:37 am

            I do the St. Paul/Minneapolis commute! High, neighbor!

            Reply
        • Richard June 8, 2017, 12:29 pm

          I’m not putting you down, but that commute sounds like a dream. I do 16 miles each way on a road bike with plenty of elevation change, and I’m super envious of your path next to a river. I’m stuck with my 999cc 3-cylinder clown car on days with poor visibility, as my route choices are so poor. Try it for a few weeks and you may never go back.

          Reply
      • AJ June 8, 2017, 12:35 pm

        One thing that might encourage you to try it out is that as you bike more frequently, you will get faster, and the commute time will come down.

        Reply
    • Chris Dusack June 8, 2017, 8:04 am

      20 minutes to go 11.2 miles equals an average speed of 33.6 MPH. Not 60. Coming home the average drops to 26.7 MPH.

      Reply
      • BenjaminButton June 8, 2017, 10:15 am

        roasted

        Reply
    • James June 8, 2017, 9:44 am

      Just a note on the ’60mph’ freeway commute noted by Gwen.

      11 miles / 20 minute = 33 mph
      At 25 minutes, it’s 26 mph.

      If you have to spend any extra time walking through a parking lot, this may be a wash.

      I ride only 6 miles to work and it’s 20 minutes to my building, 25-30 minutes home (up a 400 ft hill). I can drive this in 10-15 minutes on the freeway or surface streets. But the parking lot at my 12,000 employee site is huge and takes 9-10 minutes to walk to my building. So it’s roughly the same time for car or bike.

      I thought perhaps I was exaggerating how close these times were. But, I had to drive my 5 yr old clown car to work a couple months ago to pick up a half yard of compost on the way home and my trip was about 5 minutes longer by car.

      I don’t have an electric bike, but if I did the balance would be even more in favor of biking (except for I’d get less exercise).

      Reply
    • Erin June 8, 2017, 10:27 am

      Do you have any public transportation? I bus/bike to work right now. I bus the part that is scary due to traffic/construction projects and bike the rest. Builds up my stamina so when the construction is done, I can be conditioned for it. (it’s 10 miles one way with one hell of a hill – it’s a bridge, so yes, the hill IS both ways). Each day I’m getting off a little sooner so I have to bike more. Right now, it’s quicker than driving because buses get the right-of-way.

      Reply
      • CZ_Technically_Frugal June 8, 2017, 3:30 pm

        Public transportation is a bit overrated. I lived in Prague (Czech Republic, middle of Europe) and people says, that Prague’s public transportation is one of the best on the world. But it works from the rim to the center and back, not around the center. It’s simple to find path, where walk is as fast and much cheaper than public transportation here. Bike beats public transportation on 80-90% of paths here I guess.

        Biking is a bit complicated there. Lots of west Europe cities are good for biking, because they’re on plane. But Prague is divided by river which eroded more than 100m (300ft) down. And there are smaller rivers going into the main river (no it isn’t swamp town). So one of my commutes was about 180m down and then 100m up. The other was a bit better – 130m down and 30m up. I was faster than car even without pedaling. One way only. The other way was better to walk.

        It’s a bit better now, when e-bikes are available, but big batteries and big motors are needed just for these uphill extremes.

        Another complication is winter here (for 1 to 3 months a year). Temperature can drop below -25 C (it’s not exceeding -15 C most years and -10 C for longer time) and I haven’t found any way how to keep my hands and foots from freezing in these temperatures. Even three gloves (cotton one inside, leather outside) on each hand and four socks in leather army boots wasn’t enough. So I hope someone from Canada or Alaska will share experience here.

        About cars – you can use old and cheap one, made with repairing possibilities in mind so simple repairs can be done at home, parts are cheap and the liquid propane-butane fuel costs about $0.50 for liter here (half the price of gasoline here, about the price of gasoline in USA I guess). It isn’t cheaper, than biking or walking, but it can save an hour or two a day against any other viable transportation (less against e-bikes I guess) and that hour has some price too. It’s cheaper, than public transportation for 5-10km commutes here (if you need to have the car anyway for other purposes).

        But everything strongly depends on path here. Around the center wins old car (2-5x faster), through/to/from center wins bike and long distance through center wins underground public transportation. I haven’t used small motorbike/scooter yet, but it will be somewhere between car and bike, because the fuel has price (it’s an expensive gasoline only – for scooters here) and bike is slower.

        Reply
        • Ingrid June 8, 2017, 9:03 pm

          @CZ_Technically_Frugal I hear you on the cold hands and feet! Forget about cotton next to your skin if you want warmth in freezing weather!! Cotton holds moisture next to your skin, sucking away your heat. Instead, buy or make (from knitted, not woven) SILK liner gloves or mittens and top them with cashmere or alpaca or merino wool MITTENS.
          Ditto with the socks. Buy high-quality silk liner socks and top with thick merino wool socks (pure wool, don’t use a blend). They are expensive, but will keep warm the toes of even people with Reynaud’s (a blood circulation disorder) who are biking, hiking or skiing, etc.

          It’s easy to make your own cashmere or alpaca/merino wool mittens if you have a sewing machine (or don’t mind hand sewing) and can find an old sweater, and fairly easy to knit your own wool socks (while reading), but I confess my homemade versions of silk mitten liners only held up for 2.5 winters, so I bought my current pair. My 10-year old silk sock liners have saved my frostbite-prone toes more times than I can count.

          Etsy also has tons of European sellers selling lovely, warm handmade wool mittens and socks.

          I used to lead teenagers on multiday backcountry hiking / camping trips, and they all knew that if anyone showed up in jeans or didn’t have silk and wool, I wouldn’t allow them on the trip. Too dangerous.

          Reply
          • CZ_Technically_Frugal June 9, 2017, 7:22 am

            @Ingrid Thank you for pointing me to these materials.

            Knitted silk + knitted merino wool sock in leather boots sounds right. But wind will get through knitted silk + knitted wool mittens freely I think. I have some wool sweaters (sheep wool only) and they’re useless as top layer in winter (but perfect under leather jacket).

            I’m not sure how sewed mittens from old sweater will hold, but I have the machine, so I can give it a try, it looks like a few minutes job.

            I have hiked and camped lots of times without any special equipment here in CZ. Just good leather boots, leather jacket, any sweater or hoodie, any trousers or jeans, sleeping bag and pad, piece of plastic foil (instead of too heavy tent), home made stove (made from tin can), knife and small aluminum pot. But weather here is different probably.

            Reply
            • beerfarmer June 14, 2017, 3:10 am

              I’ve been cycling year round for the past 6 years in norther Alberta so I have pretty much dialed everything in. What you need for your bike is some pogies. I have a set of Dogwood Designs and set of Revelate Designs ones, and normally ride with no gloves. As for boots, I used to just use Smartwool socks and my regular shoe, but this year I purchased a set of Columbia Bugaboot Titanium Omni Heat boots and absolutely love them. I wear just a thin sock inside of them and have rode down to -30C with no issues.

              Reply
              • Willis Montgomery June 19, 2017, 8:21 pm

                I’ve been a bike commuter in MA for 20 years. Winters are rough here, and I’ve been bailing out this past winter and taking the train. Reading about your bike commute in Northen Alberta is inspiring. Our puny winters in MA leave me no excuse! Respect to you.

    • Tim June 8, 2017, 11:54 am

      Sounds a lot like my old bike commute in Calgary. 25 km each way, mostly beside a river but with lots of hills up and down the bank. It took an hour each way, which is not fast, but still faster than transit and about half the time as driving. I’ve since moved to a more bike-friendly city, but my dad still does that commute year round, down to -20 C. I only did it from spring to fall because I’d rather enjoy a long bus ride than suffer.

      Unfortunately, cycling was not the path of least resistance due to the way the city is designed. It was easier to hop in a car. Had it been the path of least resistance, more people would do it. So, I understand your resistance. Not everyone feels like a long trek first thing in the morning.

      It’s a problem of bad design, and to solve that problem, rather than force myself to bike, I moved to a city with higher density (Victoria, BC), where walking is the path of least resistance, and cycling will soon be too (they finally started to build protected bike lanes).

      Reply
    • Marcia June 8, 2017, 11:56 am

      12.5 miles would take 90 minutes? I’m slow as molasses, have a crappy, heavy old hybrid bike, and get stuck at a lot of traffic lights. I can do 10 miles in 55 minutes. That’s more like 75 minutes?

      With electric assist, way faster!

      But I don’t bike to work often myself. Only occasionally.

      Reply
    • Jason June 8, 2017, 12:50 pm

      Hmmm – if you earn your money in another state you have to file returns in each state with the possibility that you could potentially owe money in each state. Given that mess alone (a situation where you are being taxed without representation) why would you categorically state that you refuse to live in the other state? You could be an agent of change in improving areas that you feel need attention.
      The other option, of course, is to change jobs over to the state that you live in. Have you looked at that option?

      Reply
    • Chris Reno June 8, 2017, 3:30 pm

      I live 25 miles from work (22 by bike); Roseville to Sacramento, CA*. My regular commute is: drive 3 miles to the Amtrak train station, train ride to Sac, walk 1 mile, and the reverse coming home (2x/week I need the car after work in Roseville to timely pick up young kids, car seats, keep wife happy, etc.). When the weather is nice (not raining, under 100 deg F) and it’s daylight savings (Mar-Oct) I ride 2x/week from home to the Roseville Amtrak station (morning, 3 miles), take the train in, etc, and ride the 22 miles home. In 3 months I lost weight (about 15 pounds, but that includes other fitness activities, currently at 206) and increased my speed from 15.2 to 18.3 mph (does not inlclude stationary time at lights). I get home 40 minutes later than the equivalent car commute (30 minutes later than the train), but have enjoyed an 80 minute workout. I save time and money and get a good portion of my triathlon training in.

      *MMM, send your kid to UC Davis, and move there. It’s just West of Sacramento. You’d love that town; bikes are everywhere.

      Reply
  • Pat the Shuffler June 8, 2017, 7:10 am

    Very nice

    I will admit I suffer from a fear of riding out into traffic sometimes. I still feel like is is a justified fear on a lot of the roads around Sydney. You are right that you can design a route the vast majority of the time that avoids these roads, heading down backstreets and dedicated cycle paths. It may be a touch longer route but the exercise is good for us, and it is often a quicker commute as well instead of getting stuck in traffic.:)

    Thanks for the continued inspiration to reach for the bike instead of the set of car keys.

    Reply
    • wendy June 8, 2017, 10:31 am

      I was pretty freaked out by the idea of traffic when I started biking to work several days a week, grocery shopping on weekends, etc.
      Now I wear an outrageously bright neon yellow lightweight shell over my shirt, have flashing front & rear lights, and I bike very defensively… I still sometimes have to knock on car windows in intersections to remind them to share the road, but I had to do that when I walked to work too! Making eye contact and being alert is key – not too different from driving a car really.
      Where I live (CA Bay area) it is legal in many places (check your town) to bike on the sidewalks, so I do that too, depending on time of day, traffic, road conditions, etc.
      My experience has been that if you pay a lot of attention, develop confidence, and learn the traffic patterns in your area (I use different routes to & from work, based on safety), it becomes fun and a lot less scary. As they pointed out above, the most direct route is often not the best bike route.
      I look at biking to a new location as a problem to be solved: how to I do this in the most effective and safe manner? Because hey, nothing in life is perfectly safe!
      Maybe try some routes out on a quiet/less traffic weekend morning – see what options you might have.
      Best of luck!

      Reply
      • Pat the Shuffler June 8, 2017, 3:07 pm

        It is illegal to ride on footpaths, but as far as I can tell the cops here don’t take that law seriously. They’d have to be pretty big d***s to ticket someone for riding slowly on a footpath. I think they understand how necessary it is around the some of the crazy roads around here.

        I ride whenever I can but I have a moving workplace because I’m in construction, so every few weeks or even more often I’ll be working somewhere new. These worksites are all over the greater Sydney area which can be 40miles or even more away.

        Even the backroads are extremely busy in peak hour around here. So it is getting harder and harder to find low stress routes during peak hour.

        Reply
    • Tom June 8, 2017, 12:31 pm

      I had a fear of traffic too until I started just doing it. As it turns out, most drivers see bicyclists as outliers – unusual occurrences on their normal commute and try to avoid them. I’m way more likely to be cut off by someone pulling a jerk move right in front of me while I’m driving my car – and my commute is basically identical when I’m driving or biking, and includes one shoulder-free road and mostly business-laden US highways.
      Use flashing lights and bright clothing to help yourself be noticed.

      Reply
      • Pat the Shuffler June 8, 2017, 3:14 pm

        This is definitely not true in Sydney. I road along the road often here and drivers treat bicycle riders with absolute disdain here. Drivers often making very risky maneuvers to get around bicycle riders and often posting on Facebook about their hate for bicycle riders espousing things like “next time I’ll run them over” or “get out of the way, it’s simple self preservation you r*****s” .

        I’m not sure about traffic in Houston, but even backstreets are full to capacity during peak hour here.

        It requires a lot of care and skill to ride on the roads around here, as I said this isn’t someone who isn’t riding on the roads saying this, I do this atleast once a week for a long time now and it almost never ceases to scare the shit out of me.

        Reply
        • Tom June 9, 2017, 6:12 am

          Maybe its just too early, but what curse word is r*****s? :-)

          Sorry to hear about your biking situation. I still bike defensively, look out at intersections, try to be noticed, and bike at non-peak traffic hours.

          Reply
          • Glen June 15, 2017, 8:22 pm

            Guessing it’s a derogatory term for people with mental/developmental disabilities?

            Reply
      • Alex June 9, 2017, 11:54 am

        The drivers will not see you if they are heads-down on their phone. I used to bike on the roads but have given it up due to the emergence of smart phones and the fact that I am a father.
        Now I ride on the sidewalks which are not nearly as smooth and fast. To counter that, I ride full-suspension and am considering a fatty for the MN winter.

        Reply
  • Trip June 8, 2017, 7:14 am

    I love this article. A huge congrats to Jeremy for having the courage to go against the societal norm! So true about the Herd Mediocrity Mindset and having an example of what’s possible. Thanks MMM for sharing this story of what’s possible.

    Houston’s humidity, size, and road network are all ridiculous. And it just keeps ballooning in size. I thought its metro area was massive 10 years ago, now it’s just crazy.

    How often have you featured an article from having conversations with your readers? I think it’s an awesome idea; keep it up!

    Reply
  • Kelsey June 8, 2017, 7:15 am

    “Slippery black teat of the Almighty Oil Well”……you crack me up!

    You should feature more of these “Day in the life of” MMM people; they would be lots of fun to read.

    Reply
  • César Marques June 8, 2017, 7:18 am

    There’s a interesting theory, kind of a paradox, that says that if you take in consideration the time that you need to work in order to pay your transport into your trip, the average speed of cars is the same of the bicycles, even without the constraints of traffic, etc.
    Basically, do the maths on the costs on the car trip (detailed quite well in this blog), convert that value in working hours, add that time to your time trip and calculate the average speed taking into account the distance.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache June 8, 2017, 8:57 am

      Yes, cars are about 10 times slower than people assume they are, when you do the math.

      And, coming from my recent experience of observing quite a few old people struggling through the hospital system with chronic lifestyle diseases: Holy shit do we ever take our functional bodies for granted and holy shit is it ever a sad thing to see that destroyed.

      Sitting in a car every day – by CHOICE!! – is the fastest way to get you into that hospital bed before your time, and thus the most irrational decision we make.

      Reply
      • Trip June 8, 2017, 1:42 pm

        This is so true and unfortunate about the US. The choice was made 100-110 years ago to tear up rail lines and build lots of roads. These actions were all subsidized by the major automobile companies (for their own benefit of course). Europe took an opposite approach.

        Many Americans might claim that they have no choice, but there is ALWAYS a choice being made. Just as every dollar spent or invested is a vote for something (not doing so is also a vote).

        I’ve never heard the term “chronic lifestyle disease”. Is this your creation?

        Reply
    • Paul d'Aoust June 8, 2017, 11:08 am

      I realise that everyone’s body chemistry is slightly different, but I’ve noticed an interesting thing about sweating that’s true for myself at least: when I sweat indoors at my desk in the summer, I smell absolutely awful. When I sweat out in the hot sun (usually gardening or lugging my two kids around in a bike trailer) I tend to smell pretty decent. Very ‘person-ish’, for sure, but not stinky.

      Reply
      • Paul d'Aoust June 8, 2017, 11:10 am

        Okay, so that comment definitely popped up in the wrong place. Not the right place at all. But while I’m stuck on this thread, I want to throw in my support for the cars-vs-bikes speed thing: even without considering the cost of operating each, and even in a small city without much traffic, bikes are really only a tiny bit slower than cars. For one, you can haul through an intersection before the cars have even crossed over the crosswalk.

        Reply
    • Stephen B June 8, 2017, 11:14 am

      That same line of thinking says that after accounting for the time spent earning money, a simple snow shovel is as quick as buying, paying for, and maintaining a snow blower as well and living most of my life in the Northeast, I don’t doubt it.

      That said, sometimes when one has to get a foot of snow off of the driveway or walk in the morning before work, then the snowblower is invaluable, even if, in the long run, a person pays more for the machine compared to the shovel.

      It’s also on the snow days when I wish I could ride my bike or walk my 1.5 mile commute, but it takes the town a few days to clear the sidewalks and widen the roads and thus, right after a big snow dump is when walking or bike riding is most dangerous, so I feel compelled to clear the driveway for the car to exit. I personally love walking around all the freshly fallen snow, but I lose all margin of safety given the narrow travel lanes, post snow storm.

      Reply
    • Alex June 9, 2017, 5:43 am

      In fact, it is the speed of… walking. The calculation was first made by Ivan Illitch. He calculates than on the basis of the average wages and the average cost or car use per mile, when you add the time you have to work to pay to use your car and the time you actually spend driving, the average speed is around 4 mph. This is way less than on a bike, even if you take in account the cost of bike, which is not zero but is about few dozens to few hundreds bucks a year, so generally few hours of work per year. This doesn’t change the average speed of bike commuting.

      When you know this, you realise the first people that would benefit from switching to bike are the ones who gets the lower hourly wages. This is why i’m so angry when i hear (it is common here in France, don’t know for the US) that bike is only good for downtown hipsters and business men. Just look at pictures of end of workday in factories in the 50’s, it’s a flow of bikes pouring out in the streets.

      Reply
  • Andrew Hoffart June 8, 2017, 7:20 am

    Yesss!!! A post about Houston! Ive been a bit protective of my steamy jungle every since The Stache took a trip down Badass lane in “Lesson in Badassity from a Night in Houston” Way to go Mr. Stone

    Reply
  • Brian June 8, 2017, 7:21 am

    Houstonian here… Great article that illustrates the cost savings of closer living. My wife and I (before committing to city living) were tempted by the $200k homes in the burbs… but after running the numbers determined we’d save money by purchasing a more expensive house in town. I live 1 mile from my hospital in the Texas Medical Center, drive a used Nissan Leaf everywhere, and bike as well. Houston is as bike friendly as you make it (just as shown above). One other thing people don’t value/budget enough is time… and having a 5 minute commute versus a 1 hour like my co-workers means I have an extra 40 hours a month back of my life. Literally an entire work week I get back each month. My wife reverse commutes and avoids traffic as well. People are too short sighted sometimes when it comes to the biggest decision they’ll make when purchasing a house.

    Reply
  • Scott Trench June 8, 2017, 7:21 am

    This fellow is an example for everyone. I live in Denver and am certainly not as badass as he. That’s why, as MMM points out, I built an electric bike for use on extremely hot days or on days where I need to cover many miles for meetings or after work appointments. In fact, I built almost the exact DIY bike that Mr. 1500 describes in an old article on this blog. I am more lazy than this fellow, and like to bike in around 830 Am, about six miles with a good amount of hills. Hence the e-bike for warmer days, or days I just want a bit of a stroll and some fun.

    And it IS fun — it’s the most fun thing I do all day, hands down. Flying past beautiful streams, trees, a river, up and down hills, and a short bolt across parts of the urban downtown is incredibly fun and rewarding on either a regular or e-bike. And, this was absolutely the catalyst that took me personally from ~$0 net worth to the several hundred thousand and several thousand in monthly passive income I enjoy today. While it was responsible for “just” $10,000 or so, those savings were some of the first and most critical to me in terms of opening up opportunities and acquiring first investments, which would have been delayed had i ignored the advice to bike to work. Just as MMM says, I am able to do this because I strategically chose a home close to work and then work convenient to home. For years now I have enjoyed a commute that is 90% or more on a bike trail. No accident.

    On the rare occasions I am forced to use my car I marvel at the incredible wastefulness on our highways, the clown my giant SUVs, and the incredible traffic jams.

    Thanks to MMM for showing me the way, and thank you for showing off this lawyer Doing the impossible.

    Reply
  • FiSnowball June 8, 2017, 7:23 am

    This is awesome.

    When my fiance and I take a break from low cost world travel and Pan American Highway Vanlife Adventuring we’re excited to settle down in a bike friendly city.

    We dream of a daily bike commute to the Library and community swimming pool thanks in large part to the Mr Money Mustache community. Thank you all so much. :)

    Reply
  • Mrs PoP June 8, 2017, 7:28 am

    Chiming in from S. Florida here! I’ve been biking to work pretty much exclusively since the Anti-Automobile April post back in 2013! http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/05/04/anti-automobile-april-conclusion/

    9 miles each way, year round with no showers at the office and a “business casual” workplace. It’s definitely possible even in tropical climates! =)

    Reply
    • Mark June 8, 2017, 10:35 am

      I’m not sure where you are in South Florida, but in my area, there are NO good biking routes. Every route involves driving on car heavy roads with lots of large intersections – the kind where you might have to stop for up to 2 minutes to wait for the light, and then even when the light is in your favor, some inconsiderate (I had a different word here at first) driver is still turning into you more often than not. This is the background. The real reason I can’t ride that route is because my uncle, an avid bike rider, was hit and killed by a driver early one morning on his ride. If any family members heard that I was biking a few miles a day on heavily trafficked roads, they might physically stop me from doing it.

      My simple ~4 mile commute has the following:
      * short neighborhood ride (no problem, easy half mile)
      * right turn onto main road (no bike lanes here)
      * half mile of no shoulder, no bike lanes
      * half mile bike lane (but South Florida drivers routinely ignore those lines that they have no clue about)
      * cross a very large intersection (5+5 lanes by 4+4 lanes, some turning lanes)
      * 3/4 mile narrow bike lane (with soft shoulder that has to be used when a car is about to hit you)
      * another intersection (4+4 lanes by 3+3 lanes, one turning on each half)
      * 3/4 mile narrow bike lane, one bridge area with barely any shoulder available
      * another very large intersection (6+6 lanes by 6+6 lanes, PLUS 3 gas stations and a shopping center on the 4 corners)
      * 1/2 mile no bike lane, plus have to cross the busy road somehow at that point (or cross at previous intersection and ride through a series of 20 industrial/shopping entrances – that means stopping A LOT)
      * 1/2 mile through a development of industrial buildings (mostly parking and truck unloading areas)

      The intersections are killers. They have full signals with under-road sensors, mostly with one right turn lane, 3 straight lanes, and 2 left turn lanes, and they cycle the lights around all those. There usually is a button for pedestrians, but the time allotted to pedestrians is tiny, plus you always have the danger of someone taking a right turn into you. South Florida is one of the least pedestrian friendly (and least bike friendly) places in the world! It’s a really big problem.

      Reply
      • Lisa June 8, 2017, 12:08 pm

        Not just South Florida. I used to live in Tampa, and even though I lived only a little over a mile from my office, I drove. This was before bike lanes were a thing. The roads not only had no shoulders, they had no sidewalks and the land sloped straight into water-filled ditches. It’s absurd how car-centric Florida is.

        Reply
      • Chris Reno June 8, 2017, 3:35 pm

        I’d get a scooter.

        Reply
      • Mrs PoP June 8, 2017, 3:42 pm

        I’ll admit every commute isn’t ideal – my favorite route to work (all back roads and through fancy golf course neighborhoods) currently has a bridge out that is forcing me to detour to a main road for 2 miles and it’ll probably be at least a year before I get that back. It stinks. That commute was the best and the detour isn’t nearly as fun. (As it turns out, waiting for someone stuffing their face coming out of the fast food drive through to realize they are blocking my sidewalk is way less enjoyable than riding over a bridge hoping to spot a manantee… but I digress).
        But having had to drive a car for almost 2 months last fall while recovering from foot surgery, I can easily say even with the less fun detours, it’s still way better than driving in traffic in my book! For the most part, I’ve found I can stay off main roads in my area by cutting into and through neighborhoods instead of being on the main roads. It’s more mileage and takes more time, but is worth it to be away from 55mph speed zones.
        All that said, there are communities in Florida that are moving the right direction. FDOT and some municipalities have adopted “complete streets” policies, so road changes are being made going forward with pedestrians, cyclists, and cars in mind. When my old route reopens when the bridge is back, my 3′ bike lanes will be 5′ and the 4′ ped/bike path will be 8′ or 10′ wide depending on the section of the road. It was good before but it’s only getting better and this is with every major road project that is being planned in my town. Maybe tell your city you want complete streets and see what happens? Ours is listening…

        Reply
  • William Bloomfield June 8, 2017, 7:29 am

    I’m a government lawyer in downtown Lansing, Michigan. I wear a suit every day. I live five miles from work.

    Thanks to the inspiration of this blog, last summer I bought a single speed electric bike for about $1200 (another $300 or so for panniers and rain gear). I’ve been riding it every day since last August, except on days when the temperature is below 30 degrees. I love it!

    I was paying $780 per year for underground parking with the state. Now, I park my bike for free in a sheltered spot right next to the door. On cold winter days, I can drive to work and park for free on street parking a half-mile away and walk to work (there’s only one block of this free parking, but I found it thanks to a tip from a frugal friend). I now have about 1,500 miles on the bike.

    Because it’s an ebike, I don’t sweat as much so I can wear my suit to and from work. I roll my suit jacket and stuff it in my pannier. I always keep a rain jacket and rain pants in the pannier, just in case. When mornings are colder (in the 30s), I wear a fleece sweater under my windproof/waterproof jacket. I wear a balaclava to keep my ears and neck warm. I have rainproof/windproof gloves. This is sufficient to keep my warm down to 30 degrees. Between 40 and 50 degrees, I the lightweight jacket is sufficient. Above 50 degrees, I drop the balaclava and gloves. 60 degrees and above I wear no jacket or gloves. Even in the hottest days of summer, it’s typically no warmer than 70 degrees in the morning. I have a mild sweat when I arrive to work, but I’m cooled off after 10 minutes in the office. In the evenings, it can get warmer and sweatier as Summer temperatures hit the 80s and 90s. But riding 20 mph on an ebike generates a fine breeze, and I just need to quickly change out of my suit once I get home and it’s still no problem.

    Riding a bike lengthened my door to door commute from 15 minutes to 20 minutes. But it’s 20 minutes I look forward to. Biking is more contemplative. I now enjoy–rather than complain about–Michigan’s changing weather. Rainy days and biking in the dark are fun challenges. Who knew how much fun a late night bike ride through downtown Lansing could be? I never would have done it. You quickly discover that there’s very little bike traffic at night.

    And even my rush hour commute is no problem. I bike a less trafficked route than I use to drive. It has smooth pavement and wide bike lanes. I feel very safe and just need to be careful at intersections (watch for cars turning right through the bike lane!).

    E-bike commuting is great!

    Reply
    • Kiwigirl June 8, 2017, 7:37 am

      The e-bike is my dream… :)
      I will get it one day :)

      Reply
    • William Bloomfield June 8, 2017, 8:12 am

      I should clarify that, in Michigan, I’m able to bike most every day from April through November. I seldom bike in December or January, but can bike in February and March if the weather’s over 30 degrees.

      Reply
    • mrsmopp June 8, 2017, 9:07 am

      Awesome. I mostly walk to work, but sometimes I go by bike just so I can take the long way home and feel the sun and the breeze on my face.

      Reply
    • Tbfa June 8, 2017, 1:10 pm

      I bike to work near Kalamazoo, MI. About 4 miles each way with half of it on highways. I bike until the shoulder ices over in Dec & Jan. I did cross country ski into work one day last year, but that was way too sweaty to be practical.

      My family had two cars last year. I sold mine and rented an extra from a family member (kid away at college) for Dec & Jan. Basically $100 for insurance and gas. Worked out great.

      Reply
      • William Bloomfield June 9, 2017, 8:57 am

        Well done on selling the second car! I still haven’t taken that plunge. During the summer, my Mazda mostly sits in the garage. But there are times when it still comes in handy . . .

        Reply
    • Mike June 12, 2017, 9:16 pm

      William: I’ll be working at a law firm in downtown Lansing starting in September (currently studying for the bar exam). I’m hoping to bike to work like you do. It’s reassuring to know that it can be done most months of the year!

      Reply
  • Brad June 8, 2017, 7:32 am

    Thanks Pete!
    I almost missed biking my 5 year old to his last day of school on the trail a bike because it’s raining this morning. I guess I forgot we have rain gear. Now we are gonna have an adventure together. Cheers!

    Reply
  • Sarah June 8, 2017, 7:32 am

    I love that you always mention that biking is possible on a cruiser, going slowly, often in normal clothes and without needing major clean up after. So many cyclists we see normally have alllll the gear, which is fine, but it helps create another excuse for the rest of us. ” Oh I don’t know if I should bother, I don’t have a super tight shirt with pockets on the back.” (I don’t know what those are called but I see them on my commute to work, which I started solely because of MMM).

    Reply
    • Bruce A Johnson June 8, 2017, 7:43 am

      If you go to your local bike shop, you’ll see that those shirts are called “jerseys.” And yes, the pockets are really handy when you are riding long distances, but on my commute a bike bag (often called a “pannier”) is far more useful.

      So get out there!

      Reply
      • Sarah June 8, 2017, 8:56 am

        I do bike to work daily but I am not a “serious cyclist” at all. I just lazily cruise along on a cheap bike in my work clothes. It makes sense that those are called jerseys. Maybe someday I will be ambitious enough to need one :) I do kind of want to get panniers but I have a front basket for now.

        Reply
        • wishicouldsurf June 8, 2017, 9:23 am

          Sarah, my husband has the rear rack and panniers so he can cart his lunch and change of clothes easily and loves them and it’s much more comfortable than the backpack he started with. He got his on Craigslist. Bruce is right – they are quite useful.

          Reply
          • Eranfaraway June 8, 2017, 1:14 pm

            Another vote for panniers, I don’t know that I would stick to my commute without them!

            Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache June 8, 2017, 9:00 am

      For the record, I have NEVER worn spandex or a bicycle jersey in my life.

      Nothing against those who do ride in those things, of course. I just generally bike for transportation, so I ride in whatever clothes I need to be wearing. Even for recreational road or mountain bike rides, a pair of normal shorts does the job – and looks better when relaxing in the pub or the sandwich shop afterwards :-)

      Reply
      • Stephen B June 8, 2017, 11:22 am

        ^^^ This.

        I have never bought or worn any cycle clothing either. I never did when I rode a bike as a kid and just didn’t see the need as I got older yet still found myself on a bike.

        Reply
      • AJ June 8, 2017, 12:38 pm

        Not to mention that those fancy shirts are often $60-100+

        Reply
      • Chris Reno June 8, 2017, 3:44 pm

        I train for triathlons, so I have a fancy road bike (bought used on Craigslist of course). On my commute home/training (22 miles, only 2x/week, I take the train in), I wear spandex bike shorts (for comfort, my saddle is hard!) and my undershirt, and clipless bike shoes (instant 10% speed boost). I simply stuff my work clothes into my bike fender bag. For short errands around town, regular shorts or rolled up pant legs.

        Reply
      • mountains_o_mustaches June 12, 2017, 8:24 pm

        Here’s my 2 cents – from a person who bike commutes to work and around town, but also is training for a century. There’s definitely no need to suit up in spandex to bike down to the local brewpub; however, if you start training for things like centuries or triathlons then you do need the bike shorts, etc. – riding / training for a century without bike shorts? Ouch – just ouch. Just like I can wear normal street clothes to walk down to the grocery store, but I wouldn’t run or train for a marathon in a jeans in a pair of flats.

        Also, no need to spend $60+ for a jersey – I’ve gotten all of mine either on Nashbar or through REI garage sale for $10-25. My favorite bike shorts are frequently on sale for $30 – totally worth it. Only wear them on training rides so they last quite a while :)

        Reply
      • Brandon June 13, 2017, 12:00 pm

        I’ll note that with a fine leather saddle (I’ve personally used Brooks and Selle Anatomica) that lasts for nearly forever, ANY distance is possible without padded shorts. I’ve done 125+ miles in a day, many centuries, and an 850 mile weeklong bike tour with no fancy shorts.

        For an anatomical feasibility comparison, my wife has commuted 4,000+ miles in a year without padded shorts.

        Reply
    • CZ_Technically_Frugal June 8, 2017, 5:17 pm

      My bike is $16 piece of junk bought about 18 years ago from friend. It’s about 25 years old and works still. My special equipment are a few LEDs (reds on rear side, whites on the front) and luggage rack from junkyard ($0.2). I cycle in jeans and shirt in summer, plus sweater, jacket and gloves in winter. It needed some minor repairs during the time, but I have used parts from another bike (junkyard, $5) and tire repair kit (about $5 I guess – it’s long time I have bought a few of them).

      On the other hand I have some tools in my garage, so I can do repairs lots of people can’t and need to buy the part or let repair shop to do it.

      It’s advantage to bike on rusty ancient piece here. When I park this state-of-the-junkyard thing between two $1000 and $2500 bikes, no one would steal mine :-). I don’t want carbon cosmic technology bike to be 10 s faster on 70 km. I just want to cover my 3-10 km in reasonable time.

      Reply
      • Gerard June 9, 2017, 10:46 am

        “State-of-the-junkyard” is the best word I’ve read this week.

        Reply
    • Jen June 9, 2017, 4:10 pm

      I was listening to a podcast (I can’t remember now what podcast, sorry!) and a city planner who had lived in Europe was being interviewed and said that Americans have a ‘bike culture’ and that is a problem – it makes it intimidating for anyone to go ride a bike as they think they need all the fancy gear. In many parts of Europe, there is no bike culture that people need to follow – it is just what everyone does, part of their daily life. Americans don’t have special clothes they wear in their car, why do we need special clothes to bike? He also made many points about how city planners/architects are building bike infrastructure all wrong (ie bike lanes should be next to the sidewalk, not pinned between parking and the street! I notice this all around Seattle now when I’m on my bike. So frustrating!

      Reply
    • Brett June 15, 2017, 9:48 am

      Alll the gear can help if you have a long commute. My 20 mi each way commute is much more comfortable with cushioned shorts and without the parachute of a loose shirt waving in the wind. Don’t let that be an excuse for you to not ride though!

      Reply
  • Ryan June 8, 2017, 7:32 am

    Awesome story! I’ve often thought the same thing about biking to my office. It’s only about 4 miles but I’ve been making excuses not to do it. I’ve found in most cases if someone says “I can’t” they really mean “I won’t”. We started to focus on changing our “I won’t” to “we will” pay off our debts in January and have already made almost $20k in progress. I bet if I decided to bike to work and sell my car we could do it even faster. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Jeremy Stone June 9, 2017, 7:49 am

      Yes, just start doing it, Ryan! You will love it!

      Reply
  • Jimmy Thigpen June 8, 2017, 7:32 am

    It can definetly be done! I lived in Houston for 14 months and biked to work on average three days a week. My commute was 7.5 miles each way. On the mornings I drove to work I missed the peaceful bike ride! The summer heat and humidity was pretty intense, but I avoided the bulk of it by leaving before sunrise in the morning.

    Reply
  • Insourcelife June 8, 2017, 7:36 am

    Why would anyone NOT ride a bike to work if they lived within 5 miles?? Aside from health reasons I can’t think of one good excuse. Also, why not get a small fan for your desk to cool off much faster?

    Great story! I have never met a lawyer or a banker or anyone else that has to wear a suit who rides a bike to work. Nice to know they exist.

    Reply
    • Bee Roberts June 11, 2017, 2:09 pm

      Hmmm, a desk fan. I like the way you think!

      I cycle to work – 5 miles each way. I’m slim and reasonably fit, but have bipolar and the fatigue is a kicker. I do my best. I can only aspire to the speeds in this article!

      Unfortunately I am always sweaty and beetroot red when I get to work, and cannot fathom NOT having a shower when I get there! The office is so warm it takes me forever to cool down… but a fan, hmmm.

      Thanks!
      Bee x

      Reply
  • Kiwigirl June 8, 2017, 7:36 am

    Dear MMM,
    This made me laugh out loud: ” I never reach for the car keys – there’s no time to waste puttering around in a gas-powered wheelchair” – yes indeed, save them for those who truly need it.
    I have biked pretty much every day over the past four years here in The Netherlands (bike heaven) except when there is dangerous weather (as deemed by the weather warning system) and occasionally when I have felt like a weaky-pants.
    Here’s to the humble bike! By the way, the Dutch I’ve met don’t consider my one hour daily biking to qualify as ‘exercise’, they say it’s like breathing.

    Reply
    • Skippy June 8, 2017, 5:49 pm

      That’s probably why the Dutch are, on average, hotter than the rest of us

      Reply
    • Dave June 9, 2017, 3:52 am

      I’m also Dutch and have been biking for over a year to work now and more than 8 years to high school and college ( all 5 miles and above )
      Through any weather I just biked.
      The only thing what made me dislike it a little was the fact I got hit by a car recently so I’m a bit more careful everywhere.
      I plan on biking for the upcoming years too, altough there is a little urge to purchase a car someday.

      Reply
  • Juan June 8, 2017, 7:38 am

    Great story that highlights once again that it is all about mindset.
    I needed this inspiration as I haven’t been biking to work as much as I could.

    I think part of the problem is that I only one a mountain bike. Not great for commuting ~5 miles to work, though I have done it.

    What are some good inexpensive options for electric bikes or road bikes??
    I have always owned mountain bikes so I’d appreciate help!

    Reply
    • William Bloomfield June 8, 2017, 8:18 am

      I ride an E-glide single speed electric bike. See https://e-glidebike.com/

      It was one of the least expensive when I purchased it last Summer. I like the bike, but mine is a road bike style. I think suspension and wider tires would help. The Eglides also don’t come with fenders, which is a must for bike commuting. I had them installed at my local bike shop, but there was barely enough clearance to get them in. Some of the new Eglides have better options, but Rad Power Bikes is probably your best bet for an inexpensive but excellent ebike.

      My brother recently bought the Rad City Commuter. This is a 7 speed bike that has integrated fenders and front and rear lights. This might be the best ebike for commuting that you can get for the money. It’s $1,499. See https://www.radpowerbikes.com/products/radcity-electric-commuter-bike?variant=27902381121

      Reply
    • geekcyclist June 8, 2017, 8:20 am

      I initially commuted 13 miles each way on an old, rigid fork mountain bike for years before upgrading the whole bike. There is no reason to switch bikes if you are just getting started. Instead, you may want to consider going to your local bike shop and picking up high pressure “road slicks” that will fit your existing mountain bike wheels.

      These tires are usually about 1.5 inches in diameter, hold around 80-90 lbs of air pressure, and have little to no tread much like typical road bike tires. You will roll MUCH faster at the same level of effort on slicks, than you do with the standard 2-2.5 inch diameter knobby mountain bike tires. The ride will be smoother and more comfortable too.

      While you are at the bike shop, consider a rack and set of panniers if your bike will accommodate them. In my opinion letting the bike carry your stuff, instead of using a backpack or messenger bag is much more comfortable and leaves you less sweaty as well.

      Reply
      • William Bloomfield June 8, 2017, 8:36 am

        I concur about the rack and panniers. They are a must for bike commuting.

        Reply
        • Crazylady June 9, 2017, 7:05 am

          I’ve seen a milk crate and tie-downs sub for panniers: the crate may hold more.

          I notice that the majority of commenters/bike commuters are men. Hell hath no fury like a woman who is admonished about non-auto commuting because HAIRSTYLES are sacred to employers who believe that status trumps wages. Equally angering is the damnfool public who believes that bikes are for alkies with revoked licenses and that cargo trikes are the province of the elderly, the intellectually impaired, or (in this idiot area) bulldykes.

          I live on my job site and hope to eventually use a cargo bike in retirement. These comments have made my day.

          Reply
          • FrauSchnurrbart June 21, 2017, 1:36 am

            I work from home, but bike-commute my kids to daycare. Through the grapevine, I have heard that the other parents and kids are feeling sorry for me :-) LOL

            Obviously, if I had a car available, I wouldn’t bike……..

            Reply
    • Juan June 10, 2017, 12:17 pm

      Thank you both!
      I really like the idea of the lower friction tires to get started. In fact, I’m about to go to a local bike shop and see what they have :)
      Maybe I’ll switch to a road bike or electric bike in the future.

      Reply
  • Bruce A Johnson June 8, 2017, 7:41 am

    Preach it, brother! Been riding my bike to work for over 20 years now, and just took a new job that is (ironically) a mile *closer* to my home. Kinda feel bad about that. (And to be fair, I rarely ride in the winter.)

    This week in my town (Madison WI) it’s “Bike To Work Week.” I got a free slab of bacon on the way in and a bike mechanic tweaked my slightly-grabby brakes. When was the last time that happened to anyone in a car?

    Reply
  • Gerard June 8, 2017, 7:46 am

    I spent a week-plus in south Texas (Brownsville) last year. I bought a cheap bike my first day there, rode it all week, then gave it to my airbnb host when I left. I found the area super bikeable: no hills, no snow, bike racks on every bus, and very accommodating drivers (twice in a week, I was stopped at the side of the road and farmers in pickups stopped to ask if I was okay!). There were some downsides — some dodgy pavement, some dogs energetically protecting their turf — but nothing I couldn’t handle (and I’m a middle-aged wimp).

    Maybe things were better in Brownsville than elsewhere because it’s a poor city, and people are used to looking out for each other?

    Reply
  • rjack June 8, 2017, 7:46 am

    Very inspiring!

    Since I FIREd and Mrs. Freaky Frugal and I moved to downtown Philly, I very, very rarely take out the car. I’ve gotten to the point where I really hate driving especially in city traffic.

    Instead I joined Indego, Philly’s bike share, and I haul ass around the city on a bike. I get to places way faster than I can drive, walk, Uber, or take a bus ride. Plus it’s free exercise while I get plenty of fresh air. A great sense of freedom!

    Indego recently created an IndeHero program. The idea is that you earn points by bringing a bike to an empty station and pull bikes from a full station. You can earn between 25 and a 100 points by bringing or pulling a bike. 100 points gets a free day added to your account. So now I have a sorta Indego job helping to balance the system. I’ve earned over 8,900 points which is 89 free days! I’m being paid to exercise and get fresh air – life doesn’t get much better than that!

    Reply
    • Jwheeland June 8, 2017, 9:18 am

      Plus one for Philly! I didn’t know about the IndeHero program. Great stuff. I live a little to0 far into West Philly to use it as a commute option. (I ride my own bike) but I like that we now have this option. Also, protected bike lanes are coming to Chestnut Street!

      Reply
      • rjack June 8, 2017, 9:29 am

        Yep, you’re getting a protected bike lane! I’m jealous. :)

        Philly bike infrastructure is OK, but it could use a lot more protected bike lanes. The good news is that as more and more bikes hit Philly streets, the safer it becomes for bikers because cars expect to see bikes.

        Indego has helped put a lot of new bikes one the road. Plus I’m just a big fan of bike shares in general.

        Reply
    • Danie June 8, 2017, 5:00 pm

      Orlando, FL also has a similar incentive on their Juice bikeshare program. If you take a bike locked somewhere that’s not a designated station, you can take it back to a station and earn $2 or something onto your account. If you do that a couple times, it pays for itself in free rentals! It’s a really cool idea, because sometimes you might see a bike locked in a location that’s even more convenient for you to pick up than at an actual station. Win win!

      Reply
    • Rob June 9, 2017, 9:43 am

      I lived and biked in philly as my only form of transport 2003-2009. I’m amazed by how many more bikers there are now when I visit it’s awesome! South street bridge feels like Amsterdam!

      Reply
  • Bruce A Johnson June 8, 2017, 7:48 am

    Oh yeah, almost forgot:

    When you do decide to become a bike commuter, a few accessories are quite essential. A reflective vest or jacket will save your life (I call mine my “please-don’t-hit-me” jacket.) LED lighting is bright, effective and increasingly inexpensive – and turn it on whenever you are sharing the road with cars.

    And finally, a tip: Bikes are legally vehicles, just like cars and trucks. You have the same right to the road as they do. BUT – when a bike and a car meet, *physics ALWAYS wins* and the biker always loses. Ride responsibly, follow the rules, stop at signals and signs, and *let the car go first.*

    Great MMM post!

    Reply
  • Chantal June 8, 2017, 7:49 am

    Hi. I would so love to do that. I live in Lac Beauport (Quebec, Canada). The weather here is ok for biking only from May to end of october. Otherwise, it is too cold or there is too much snow on the ground. I hate traffic, i hate driving to my work, which is actually at 21 miles from home, because I hate behing stuck and having to do the same things asd the others. I tried to find someone to codrive with, but it seems I live too far (I live in the north part of Quebec, where the taxes are very low, and we are almost self sufficient with electricty, water, etc (we are doing it, slowly but surely). My house is a bi-generation house (my mom has her own appartment attach to the house, and we help each other in so many ways, that I couldn’t imagine living appart).
    I worked from home and around for about 9 years, having my own business. But it didn’t work well and I lost a lot of money, owning a child clothing store (online and from home at the start) going so well that I grew it to a mortar and bricks store, which cost me too much.
    Well, I’m now 47, two kids (9 and 11) and a new boyfriend for 3 years now, and need to build again my wealth, so I have a day job for now. I like it, but I hate driving to it. I would go to work by helicopter if I could to avoid traffic jam.
    I developed great skills with social medias, communications, and I’m thinking of working from home again, or nearer. But my financial situation is too precarious.
    Any tips would be really well appreciated.
    Thank you for doing that blog and sharing with us all your knowledge and experience.
    Chantal

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache June 8, 2017, 8:21 am

      Chantal, are we talking about the same Lac-Beauport, just outside of Quebec City?

      https://weather-and-climate.com/average-monthly-Rainfall-Temperature-Sunshine,quebec-city,Canada

      The average high temperature is above 10C for most of April, May, June, July, August, September, October, and November!

      I think your “May through October” estimate is based on times when it *can possibly* snow. All that matters for biking are days when there is less than 6 inches of unplowed snow on the ground. Even in Quebec, this is 200+ days per year.

      Reply
      • William Bloomfield June 8, 2017, 8:40 am

        In Michigan, I generally bike every day April through November. I’ve now managed to bike at least once in every winter month. December, January, and February are typically the hardest months. This year, Michigan had a warm February, and I biked 10 days. I never would have thought it possible.

        Reply
      • Chantal June 8, 2017, 9:49 am

        Yesm this is the place. So I live up in the mountain at 1410 feet high, and the place I work in the old city is at sea level (Old Port). It would give me such a ride to go in the morning, yess, just going down, and fast, but I can’t imagine coming back from work. lol But it is possible, it is.
        You took the average weather, but I can tell you that minus 40, even with no snow, is not an option.
        January, February, March, even April with surprise snow storm, are not to be considereted.
        Yes, sometimes, not every year November is not that bad, but it is definitely with high cold humidity. December, is the chaos month with rain, snow, cold, warm, rain, cold, snow, warm…weather.
        So to avoid the car during these months would be public transportation which would take me 1h50 minutes to be at work, with 3 tranferts… I know, the Quebec public transportation is very very bad and not popular at all.

        Reply
        • Lisa June 8, 2017, 2:02 pm

          If you don’t want to do it, it’s one thing, I assume an electric bike would help with the hill or help you get really fit and it’s the way home so doesn’t matter if you get sweaty, but i bike down to -20’F and it’s fine, I wear a snow jacket and pogies/bar mitts whatever you want to call them to keep my hands warm and a balaclava for my face. Alaska has pogies rated to like -30’F and if you add gloves too I get way too warm.
          There are a few people on here that state they can’t do it which is actually they don’t want to, which are very different things, and MMM isn’t saying you HAVE to, he’s saying your should think about it but by posting on here you are just making up excuses really…

          Reply
    • Shane Grant June 8, 2017, 10:14 am

      Hello Chantal,

      I live in Moncton, NB, and I commute pretty much year round to work, which is about 6.5km (4miles) each way. I bought a norco big foot 6.3 fat bike (http://www.norco.com/bikes2016/mountain/fat-bike/bigfoot/bigfoot-63/) last year that will go through the snow, and I layer clothing based upon temperature and windchill. I usually only skip on days where it is -30c (-22f), and give one day for clearing the roads after a snow storm.

      It’s worth it, but you need to commit to it and get into a routine of doing it. You can do it!

      Reply
      • William Bloomfield June 9, 2017, 9:00 am

        How do you protect your face? I have a balaclava and clear glasses, but I’ve found that between 20 and 30F the smallest bit of skin exposed quickly gets painfully cold. (I ride an e-bike, so I’m going 20 – 22 mph and the wind chill is thus colder at those speeds.)

        I’d like to be able to ride deeper into the winter, so your suggestions are appreciated.

        Reply
        • Grant June 12, 2017, 1:13 pm

          I have biked in below -30C temperatures (-40 with windchill) during winter and have been sweating by the time I get to work on my ~6km route.

          The key to staying warm at that temperature is to dress like you would for skiing. I wear a snowboard helmet and ski goggles. I pull a balaclava up over my nose so nothing is exposed between my goggles and mask. I might even add a second neck warmer or something over my balaclava as a second layer. And of course, ski pants (with varying amounts of layers depending on temperature) and heavy duty mitts with lighter gloves underneath are a must as well. There are also accessories called “bar mitts” available to help keep your hands warm. Make sure you get something warm for your feet too. I use old work boots with wool socks. Finally, I have a winter “shell” jacket over my body which I layer varying amounts of breathable fabrics underneath depending on temperature.

          Reply
  • Maciej Kozlowski June 8, 2017, 7:57 am

    I have a question to the Great Oracle of MMM. I bike to work a lot, not really to save money as I normally use public transport which is not THAT expensive, but for health benefits. I am working on doing it more, but there are some seasons when I just can’t. I mean I tried, but I almost died. As soon as I left home my bike slipped on ice and I almost went under a passing tram. Yeah, winters in Poland can be harsh. So here’s the question: is there any solution? How do I ride on ice and not die? I really would like to do this, as in winter nobody rides bikes and the roads are empty, and riding in heavy rain when it’s cold and harsh makes me feel like a badass, so riding in snow and ice would be even more badass.

    Reply
    • geekcyclist June 8, 2017, 8:26 am

      Both Schwalbe and Continental make studded bicycle tires in multiple sizes designed for winter riding. They work surprisingly well, though they do cost in the ball park of $50-60. If your local bike shop doesn’t have them they can likely order them (never seen a shop that wasn’t a dealer for at least one of those two brands). I’ve also purchased online from Bike Tires Direct.

      Reply
      • Maciej Kozlowski June 8, 2017, 8:38 am

        Cool! Thanks! Expensive, but probably worth it.

        Reply
        • Lisa June 8, 2017, 2:06 pm

          yep studded tyres and also look at pogies/bike mitts for your hands then you don’t have to wear thick gloves and safer for the brakes, I put foam where they connect to the bar so cold air doesn’t get in as easily and then leave then pretty open to get your hands out easily, good job biking through the winter! If can def be an adventure :)

          Reply
    • Nick June 8, 2017, 8:30 am

      Check out studded bicycle tires. I have a set that I have not tried yet because I haven’t needed them, but they should keep you firmly planted on the ice, especially those unexpected patches of black ice that you can’t avoid in traffic.

      I bicycle commuted year round in Washington, DC (USA) which combined sticky, humid summers with mild but full-of-ice-storms winters. Now I work from home, but still bike to the grocery store, home improvement store, library, etc., this time in Pittsburgh. Less hot, less humid, but HILLS EVERYWHERE, and more snow.

      You can do it! There is always a solution!

      Reply
    • DrOptOut June 8, 2017, 10:56 am

      Studded snow tires are extremely effective on ice; full-speed riding on ice is practical. Their main weakness is softly packed snow floor, which at some temperatures behaves a lot like fine sand, and is nearly unrideable at any speed.

      Reply
    • JDog June 16, 2017, 12:26 am

      Lay off the front brake in any kind of ice. I mean don’t touch it. Rear only. Was a bike messenger for a while in Toronto in all kinds of snow and ice, this will help.

      Reply
  • Clara June 8, 2017, 8:06 am

    Wonderful! I am a lawyer living in Toronto and I relish my daily 9km round trip walking commute! Over the past years, I’ve clocked in more than 5,000km. I love spending an hour of contemplative time outside each day before work, and I like to imagine how peaceful this city would be if everyone was walking and biking whenever possible. The walking commute is especially invigorating on a frosty winter day, and I recommend that everyone make the switch to a self-propelled commute! When I need to be somewhere in a hurry or I’m not headed straight home after work, I’ll ride my trusty old bike instead. Our household is happily car-free. I read somewhere that walking to work can generate as much joy as falling in love – having experienced both, I think it’s totally true.

    Reply
    • William Bloomfield June 8, 2017, 8:21 am

      As a fellow lawyer, and one that bikes to work, I wholeheartedly agree about the joy of biking to work.

      Reply
    • FOTheM June 9, 2017, 4:48 pm

      Also a lawyer, and I walk to work every day. People often ask me what I do when it rains and I say “I walk”. And then they look at me like I’m mad. I own an umbrella and a rain coat. Walking (even in the rain) is so much less stressful than dealing with the crazies on the road!

      Reply
  • veronica June 8, 2017, 8:09 am

    Thank you for that great story.

    I had the most amazing commute in today – clear sky, cool temps and no rain (it’s been raining A LOT in Toronto recently).

    People are shocked when I tell them the best part of my work day is my commute. They automatically assume that my job must be hell. (I don’t particularly like my job, but it’s nowhere near hell.) But that’s not it t all. It’s just that my commute is so awesome.

    And because it’s so great, I slow down and savour evey minute. So even though I go ‘up hill both ways’ on my commute (traversing a ravine will do that), I don’t arrive at work in a lather. If I’m going out after work, it’s a straight shot downhill to downtown from the office, so again no worries about overheating. And going home – straight uphill from downtown, usually into a headwind :( – who cares, you’re going home.

    Unfortunately it’s seasonal for me. Once winter sets in, I’m back on the bus. :( The trails that I ride aren’t usuable in the winter (poor condition, ice/snow covered and very poor lighting not to mention mild concern over personal safety if I were to meet an unsavory character in a deserted ravine). That would force me onto the arterial roads which I won’t even cycle in summer, never mind winter.

    But still, I get seven months of awesomeness every year. What’s not to love?

    Reply
  • Nicolai June 8, 2017, 8:09 am

    Living in Copenhagen (Denmark) where bicycles are the means of transport for the majority of the citizens, I’m constantly surprised by the North-American car culture. A look outside my window (during rush hours) looks like a Tour de France peleton of happy commuters. All year round in all weather conditions :-)

    Come on USA – just do it! :-)

    Reply
    • Chantal June 8, 2017, 10:51 am

      I’ve been in Copenhagen and I really enjoyed riding it on a bike. Something for sure, it is almost flat and it makes it easier. It made me even wonder why would anyone use a car in such a place. Moving there, I would totally go everywhere on a bike.

      Reply
    • Paul June 16, 2017, 5:00 am

      Yeah, I’m from AT (bicycling infrastructure could be better, of course) but it baffles me how car fixated the US is. I read somewhere that there are long queues at parking space entrances (≥10 mins) for getting to work or at the school/kindergarten dropoff. I don’t want to get political, it just seems like everything people in the EU do or seems common sense to me to reduce emissions/energy costs, simply doesn’t exist in the US. I also heard people sleep in the car with the AC (and therefore engine) running during lunch breaks, etc.

      Reply
  • Adam June 8, 2017, 8:13 am

    When I lived seven blocks from my office, I biked every single day on a beat-up hoopty cruiser. Felt like a million bucks and I was easily the fastest thing in town.

    When I moved six miles down the road, I splurged on the bus (pickup a block from my house, dropoff a block from the office). Three bucks each day from a pretax commuter account my company offered. 95% of the time I was the only white guy. It was a fantastic opportunity to relax for half an hour and mentally shift gears for the day (or evening) ahead.

    Then my office closed. For the last fourteen months I’ve been a full-time telecommuter. It’s magnificent.

    But after reading an article like this, I almost want to get a new job just so I can once again crank some pedals and glide every day across the early morning pavement!

    Reply
  • Brian Bailey June 8, 2017, 8:22 am

    Another bike-commuting lawyer here, chiming in from Fort Wayne, Indiana. Like others, I leave trousers, dress shirts, a couple suits/ties and dress shoes in the office. I just change when I arrive. Client meetings or other obligations around town forced to drive often enough to make switching out the wardrobe easy.

    My 18-mile round trip commute is good for the soul, the planet, my car, and my firm’s group health insurance premiums. Win/win/win/win. I have never encountered anyone who looks down on a lawyer riding his bike to work; on the contrary, clients and colleagues both seem to appreciate badassity in lawyers. Thanks to MMM and Jeremy Stone for the profile. Not only CAN it be done — it’s not even very difficult once you form the habit :-)

    Reply
  • Alex June 8, 2017, 8:23 am

    Love the post! I’m a lawyer too and have commuted by bike on a daily basis in San Francisco, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and now Washington DC. Living close to the office makes a huge difference, as does the bike infrastructure. Here are a few of my favorite tips:

    1) Take notes! I have a document listing the morning temps in five degree increments where I keep track of what clothing was comfortable for me. So when I wake up and see that it’s 45 degrees, I know that I’ll want to wear a sweater, my windbreaker, and a light pair of gloves. Below 45 and I add a scarf. You get the idea. This really helps take the guess work out of it and with the temperature variations we have in fall, winter, and spring on the east coast it can be hard to remember what worked back in November when April rolls around.

    2) Suit jackets are the trickiest thing to pack on a bike. Shoes are the heaviest. I leave my jackets and shoes at work and pack just the suit pants, socks, a shirt, a tie, and a belt. Easy.

    3) The advice about taking it slow is good. Everybody has a different style and that’s great. Some people like to get all kitted out in spandex and treat their morning commute like a race. That’s not for me. Either way is fine. Don’t feel like you have to keep up with people who are faster.

    4) If you like carrying things in a backpack that’s great, but it drives me nuts when I’m on a bike. I love the feeling of cool air on my back. Invest in some sort of bag you can attach to your bike. Even better is one you can unclip easily when you arrive, just like someone would grab their laptop bag or purse from the passenger seat of their car.

    Reply
    • Adrian June 9, 2017, 6:10 pm

      I’ve been wanting to do this, and it’s great to hear from other people who have. Unfortunately I keep getting stuck in the details. How do you make sure that your shirt isn’t creased when you arrive at work?

      Reply
  • ConArtist June 8, 2017, 8:25 am

    I felt like this post was describing my life to a T. I am the only individual in my agency who bikes to work each day. Parking downtown is a discounted $35 per month. I pocket that. I also save on gas ($15 a month). Maybe another $10-15 a month on insurance. And stress, traffic, and potential accidents and tickets are no issue any longer. Getting hit by a car is, so that is a danger with all angry commuters to deal with.

    Also our HR director happened to be a rec cyclist and I convinced him to offer a subsidy to incentivize biking to work and free up an overcrowded parking lot at the same time. I am currently the only one on it but get paid $20 a month for tune-ups and busted tires (of which there are many). Not a lot of money but something nonetheless. My employees who make less all drive.

    I intentionally moved closer to work (4.5 miles just like in the post). Thankfully for me it’s mostly downhill on the way in so I don’t sweat much. I never use the showers even in the summer. If it’s very hot then I just pedal more slowly. There’s also a shower at work but I don’t want to use it cuz that would slow me down. As noted, within 5-10 minutes the sweat dries and it’s climate controlled.

    I also like the fresh air and the fact that I’m getting a little bit of exercise in my day. Not to mention not polluting. I don’t know what life will bring but biking to work and living nearby was one of my best decisions and I have no regrets after 12 months of doing it.

    Reply
  • Michael June 8, 2017, 8:34 am

    What would you suggest for someone whose job requires use of a vehicle to dispatch for emergencies? I work for a small IT company and we regularly need to use our vehicles to make it quickly to a customer site while carrying sometimes 100-200 lbs of computer equipment. I enjoy driving my vehicle, but I would still like to see if there are any alternative opinions/solutions.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache June 8, 2017, 11:45 pm

      I’ve been in this situation occasionally in the past – I just left my car in the work parking lot and continued to bike to/from work.

      Reply
    • Ryan June 9, 2017, 5:14 pm

      MMM offers a sensible solution here–no surprise! I will also add that I know a guy here in Pittsburgh who is a professional videographer, and he regularly transports 100-200 lbs. of fancy video equipment around town–up and down rather steep hills–on a sweet cargo bike with hydro-disc brakes. I bet he still gets around faster than someone in a car.

      Reply
  • PoF June 8, 2017, 8:38 am

    I’m no Dwayne Johnson, but I manage to bike to work half the year, and then I get soft. I’m not saying it can’t be done all winter long, but that I’d rather not. When I do drive, it’s in an eleven-year old car, perhaps to be replaced by an electric vehicle someday, but I’ll probably eliminate my work commute entirely before my current vehicle gives out.

    You gotta love the car commuter that drives 3 miles to the gym, takes a spinning class for an hour, then drives home. Ummm…

    Cheers!
    -PoF

    Reply
    • Marcia June 8, 2017, 1:35 pm

      I used to do that! Still do occasionally. I’m going to say that it totally makes sense if the only time you are able to workout is at 5:30 am!

      Reply
    • Dr-in-Debt June 9, 2017, 12:33 pm

      I got back on the bike again today.

      Had commuted by bike from 2010 to 2016, Kids finally got old enough we had to divide and conquer for activities so I bought a Tahoe with 130k miles on it. Got lazy and started taking it to work too much.

      NO MORE!

      POF, I don’t blame you for not riding in the winter, possible but not ideal if you are on call.

      Reply
    • TheHappyPhilosopher June 12, 2017, 9:40 am

      Years ago I would drive to and from work only to go on a 20-25 mile training ride when I get home (**facepalm).

      Reply
  • Patrick June 8, 2017, 8:39 am

    Oh man… bravo MMM. This just makes me happy. (9 mile bike commute in Seattle, rarely do I sweat on the way in)

    Reply
  • Matt Sharp June 8, 2017, 8:46 am

    Great post and an inspiring guy.

    I live in Calgary, Alberta, which is very similar to Houston (oil is the dominant industry, sprawl is the dominant urban planning policy), and I bike to work year-round. While Calgary is very dry, being 1,045 metres above sea level, it also gets snow and ice throughout the winter months. Calgary is very much a “You need a car” city.

    This is of course, nonsense. Some Schwalbe Winters on my commuter bike makes short work of the winter. Attitude is everything!

    Reply
    • Myles June 9, 2017, 3:25 pm

      Matt, I felt a lot better on my studded tires after putting them on my bike this past winter in Calgary – we had a tough winter, as you know, with a lot of snow and I think they made a difference. Maybe it’s just because I’ve always lived in the southwest quadrant but I think this city is fairly easy to bike in. Sometimes there are pathway bridges where car bridges don’t exist and it’s even easier to get somewhere by bike. The river path is nice but sometimes I avoid it to take a more direct route. See you out there.

      Reply
  • Jim H June 8, 2017, 8:52 am

    I started biking to work in January 2016 10.5 miles round trip. It was the last mustachian principle for me to adopt as I continued to find excuses why I couldn’t do it. I live in northern Arkansas where we get all four seasons. The only thing that changes for me during from each season is the number of layers of clothing I wear. Overall this has been the one of the best decisions I ever made (frugal wife still holds the #1 spot). I arrive to work feeling alive and full of energy! I am more productive and happy. Same thing happens after the ride home. I feel great and I am happy to see the family. This mild work out has also helped me sleep better. It did take a little while to dial in the safest bike route, but I got there! So happy I made this life changing decision!

    Reply
  • foundmercy June 8, 2017, 8:54 am

    I rode my bike to work for a few months about three years ago now and kept getting more and more nervous with each ride, finally quit after I had a little bump from a front fender (car didn’t see me, i was going opposite traffic, my bad). The roads on this route were all narrow, and the sidewalks were first of all sideWALKS and second of all utter trash – very poorly maintained. I keep trying to psyche myself up to try again but the way people drive around here seriously scares me. How do you overcome the fear?? Especially when doing it just makes it more scary?

    Reply
    • Sean June 9, 2017, 9:59 am

      Hi foundmercy,

      I’ve been bike commuting for a few years now, and I have found that if you are visible and predictable, it goes a long way towards inspiring confidence for all involved. So this means:

      – Always riding on the correct side of the road
      – Riding as close to the right side of the road as is safe (usually 3 feet away)
      – Maintaining a consistent position with respect to the side of the road, no sudden movements
      – Being visible (front/rear blinkies, reflective clothing and gear, etc.)
      – Signaling your turns and stopping at lights and intersections
      – Not passing cars on the right

      As for the actions of the drivers in your area, is there anything specific that scares you? Can you plan routes to avoid “bad behavior” spots, and stick to quiet residential streets?

      Hope this helps.

      Reply
      • foundmercy June 9, 2017, 11:59 am

        I was going opposite traffic on the sidewalk back then because it felt safer, which I know is the wrong move.

        By far the scariest thing is that they don’t use their blinkers, so if at an intersection and i’m wanting to go straight, i have to be extra careful of cars turning right. I’ve had innumerable “near misses” in these circumstances. Perhaps I should stop at the light even if it is green?

        Reply
        • Sean June 9, 2017, 12:54 pm

          Hi foundmercy,

          If I’m reading correctly, it’s cars turning right (that you are sharing the lane with) that are giving you trouble, especially at locations controlled by a stoplight. There’s two scenarios I can see here, so I’ll play them out below:

          1.) You and a car are both stopped side by side (car on the left, you on the right) at a stoplight. When the light turns green you start moving and the car beside you starts turning right, into your path.
          2.) You are moving through the stoplight, and a car overtakes you from behind (on your left side) and then turns right, crossing your path.

          I think in both situations a bright front and rear blinkie would help. It seems to always grab attention from drivers in my area.

          Also, I say you take the lane at any stoplights. Here’s two separate scenarios for that:

          So if you come up to the stoplight, pull in directly behind any already stopped cars, and follow them through. They’ll go right, you’ll go straight, then you’ll immediately move back over to the right side of the road.

          If you get to the intersection first, take the lane to block any car behind from going past you. You’ll go straight through the intersection at the green, then immediately move back over to the right after you go through.

          Obviously look behind you before you take the lane, to make sure it’s free, but that would be my suggestion. I hope this helps!

          -Sean

          Reply
          • foundmercy June 12, 2017, 7:02 am

            Very helpful. I definitely need to invest in some attention-grabbing gear. And I think I just need to insert myself at traffic lights where possible to increase my visibility. BTW, just passed a sign on the highway this weekend and the death toll from our roads this year is over 600. I’m not convinced driving my cushy car to work is any safer than cycling!

            Reply
        • Bob June 12, 2017, 5:48 am

          yes, you always cycle defensively. So if cars are not obeying rules of the road, you’ve got to improvise. No use following the rules and getting crushed, no-one’s going to read the tombstone that said “but I had right of way!”.
          So if people cut across you, then cross over when the path is clear. In my country, cyclists and pedestrians should have right of way, but vehicle owners will knock you over if you’re in their path.

          Reply
      • FrauSchnurrbart June 21, 2017, 1:55 am

        I always maintain eye contact or wait for the motorist to come to a stop before crossing an intersection. Safety before speed (sadly).

        Reply
    • Jennifer June 9, 2017, 11:05 am

      The first thing is that you should have gotten back on the bike sooner – you’ve had 3 years to stew over something that was ultimately a non-issue! Unless you were hurt, it sounds like it was scary but no actual harm was done. Secondly, you must, must, obey traffic laws! When you bike, you’re operating a vehicle, and for your own safety as well, you need to be in places and behaving in ways that drivers can predict. It is much less safe to bike against traffic or on sidewalks (if it’s even legal where you live) than to bike with traffic. I would highly recommend remembering your hand signals for turns as well, again to be predictable. For a left turn, your left arm goes straight out, for a right turn, your left arm is bent 90 degrees with your hand up. (Technically, if you’re braking, your left arm should go down, but I don’t understand how you can control a braking bike with only one hand, so I have to trust that cars figure that one out by the fact that I’m not pedaling.)

      Since it sounds like your confidence got pretty shaken, I would recommend running errands by bike first. Try something that isn’t rushed, like a trip to the library, so you can take the time you need, yield to cars even if you do have right-of-way, *walk* your bike on the sidewalk if there’s a dicey section of road, etc (all things you might not be able to do if you’re worried about being late to work). And then enjoy it! Once you’ve built your confidence back up, evaluate whether there’s a better route to work, even if it’s slightly longer. Google’s option for directions for bikes is a helpful start, but it may not be perfect for the commute you make. I remember doing a dry run of my routes to middle school and high school on a weekend for exactly this reason, and the traffic tends to be a little lighter as well.

      Good luck and happy cycling!

      Reply
      • foundmercy June 12, 2017, 6:56 am

        I know!! To be fair 1 of those 3 years was spent in babyhaze, so I’m not sure it counts ;) I really like the advice of starting out with errands to build confidence. Although really I just need to DO IT. Stop thinking about it and just GO.

        Reply
  • Financial Panther June 8, 2017, 8:55 am

    I’ve always been about figuring out that last mile in order to get yourself to that mass transit. I’m an attorney as well. It’s 8 miles to bike into work – about 40 minutes. Most days, I’ll bike home unless I’m feeling really lazy. In the mornings, I’ll bike to the train station – a quick 8 minute ride – and then hope onto the train to the office.

    Oh, and I use the bikeshare to get around, so I can easily bike in my suit. These bikeshare bikes are designed for commuters, so it’s easy to bike around in work clothes.

    Anyone who lives in a city needs to be taking advantage of bikeshare! Seriously, it’s the best infrastructure development for cities ever! Even if I didn’t bike, I’d still pay for a yearly pass just to support it. In my city, its 75 bucks a year. I’ve done the math and that’s about 30 cents a ride if I only used it going to work (I don’t, I use it for pretty much anytime I want to get anywhere). No maintenance needed on my end and I’m supporting a form of infrastructure that’s getting people out of cars and is helping to normalize biking.

    Reply
    • cjdquest June 9, 2017, 12:40 pm

      Hey FP – We’re in the same city & my employer cut a deal with the NiceRide bikeshare to get the membership down to $25/year as a part of our wellness/health program. If you’re at a larger employer, I’d recommend shooting a message to your HR department and see if they’re interested in providing that as a perk.

      Reply
  • wishicouldsurf June 8, 2017, 8:55 am

    That is totally inspiring. And leave it to you, Pete, to come up with a catchy saying encapsulating an important concept like “herd mediocrity mindset”… I so wish I had examples of this years ago when I would try out biking to work, only to encounter some very small obstacles and then give up way too quickly. I’ve had a home office the better part of 15 years but my husband took up the bike commuting last year on an electric bike so he could charge the 10.5 mile uphill commute to work. It truly was the gateway drug for his bike commute as he has been riding a sweet used newly acquired road bike lately and even considering selling his electric bike to a colleague who really wants to ride to work but feels intimidated by the significant elevation increase.

    Reply
  • Stef June 8, 2017, 9:01 am

    My faster alternative is an electric moped! In NL it has no taxes and can do 50 km/h. Also got a bike for some smaller trips.

    Charge from solar panels, like our only car, we sold our 2nd car due to MMM!

    Reply
  • Not Beehive June 8, 2017, 9:02 am

    I commend The Rock for his daily bike commute but I bet he is probably a little smelly upon arrival at work. I work with someone who works out during her lunch hour, returns to the office and puts on antiperspirant and her work clothes and thinks she doesn’t smell… but she does. So much so that the entire office smells in the afternoon. It’s like when people say “I wore the same two alternating pairs of pants every day for a year to work and no one noticed!” People probably noticed but don’t comment. My coworker has never asked me if she smells so I don’t enlighten her.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache June 8, 2017, 11:44 pm

      TELL YOUR COWORKER!!

      There is no need to tiptoe around the issue. I always asked my coworkers to make sure I wasn’t just imagining my own nice smell. And I have definitely smelled unpleasant quite frequently (including today after a day of hot weather construction) – I just notice it immediately and go take a shower at that point.

      Reply
    • Jeremy Stone June 9, 2017, 9:27 am

      Ha! I’m pretty sensitive to BO and I’m sure my partner would tell me if there was an issue. Also, I’ve found that baking soda is more effective and cheaper than any deodorant.

      Reply
      • MMMerlin June 12, 2017, 8:55 am

        Baking Soda? Like the powder or a formulated deodorant stick? I commute to work in Houston ( Clear Lake area) to my job. My bike ride is 6.4 miles. I go in a little later in the morning than you (I should adjust my schedule!) and I stand around in the bathroom to cool off for 10 minutes or so. I use baby wipes and a chamois. I change clothes (keeping dress clothes in the office is no big deal) for my professional/engineering job. No showers here at the office. I was considering not riding the bike June through August, but I think I can just go in an hour earlier maybe? This is my first year attempting this — I started riding a few months ago when the weather was cooler. So far I have not saved any money because I got bit by the bike/gear bug and have gone crazy buying a new bike and accessories :( But, long term these bikes/lights/helmet etc will be with me for years if not forever so I’m sure it amortizes out just fine.

        Reply
        • Jeremy Stone June 14, 2017, 10:13 am

          Good work on the long commute in Clear Lake! Yep, just the powder! Another thing I didn’t believe would work until I actually tried it. I also get tempted by the bike/gear bug and have not been as thrifty as MMM with my bike and gear. But, like you said, even fancy bikes and related gear will save you money (and increase your health) over car commuting.

          Reply
      • Alex June 13, 2017, 3:21 am

        A little tip of aroma therapy :

        tell her to try Palmarosa essential oil, few drops mixed with vegetal oil (jojoba, calendula, etc.) and apply under her arms and wherever she sweats. It’s just magical : the more you sweat, the better it smells. Palmarosa doesn’t reduce sweating, it kills bacteria responsible of bad smell. It’s also very cheap, at least in Europe : it costs few euros for 10 ml (around 100 drops) wich will last around one to two month for one person.

        Reply
  • Jason June 8, 2017, 9:08 am

    MMM I think biking to work is a GREAT idea! However, I think it would be helpful to present more of the risks about this:

    What about crime? According to SpotCrime.com, Houston had over 44,000 robberies, thefts, and burglaries in the past 6 months, many of which occurred at locations along this bike route. Although I am sure that cyclists were probably not targets of many of these crimes, if there are that many criminals on the streets, the risks of running into an opportunistic criminal (especially if you are going under tunnels, through parks, or other low traffic areas, and your daily route is predictable) should be considered. I am curious how many women Mustachians would feel comfortable doing this?

    You mentioned the heat, but what about the storms? In the summer months alone, Houston averages 28 days with Thunderstorms, many of which are formed due to diurnal heating and are difficult to anticipate and predict. I would assume the advice would be to stay at work and just wait out the storms since driving in storms is dangerous and exponentially increases the risk for accidents? Leading to more time at work and less time with family?

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache June 8, 2017, 11:42 pm

      There’s always an excuse not to do the right thing. But life is always better when you just stop worrying and DO IT.

      Reply
      • Jason June 9, 2017, 9:53 pm

        Thanks for the reply Pete! It’s always hard for us “planning and contingency” types to let go and embrace a big change like that.

        After coming across your blog, I have started biking to our local grocery store for small trips and will do bigger trips when I get a bike trailer. I currently work 25 miles from home, but there are backroads so I am tempted to try it!

        Reply
    • Jeremy Stone June 9, 2017, 4:28 pm

      I don’t worry about crime. I haven’t done the stats, but I would bet you have a greater chance of being in a car accident while driving than being the victim of a crime on a bicycle. Don’t let an irrational fear of crime get in the way of living a free life. And yes, my wife cycles often.
      As for storms, it is fun to ride in them! And I will always get there faster in a storm because traffic locks up.
      Once you start cycling, you will become accustomed to it and your fears will go away.

      Reply
      • Jason June 9, 2017, 9:56 pm

        Great reply Jeremy! I live in the south, so T-storms are an issue, but I’m fortunately in a low crime area. I have been caught in some down pours a few years back when I was triathlon training, and I agree it would be fun if the rain wasn’t in my eyes or all over my glasses.

        Reply
      • Don June 11, 2017, 6:28 am

        Here in west central Florida, many storms are accompanied by lightning. A bike is no place to be when there is lightning. (I used to commute 20 mile round trip, but am now retired.)

        Reply
  • Chris Dobson June 8, 2017, 9:17 am

    I was disappointed to find this article isn’t about me. I too biked to work five days a week, 11 months of the year, as an attorney working in the Federal courthouse in Houston. I lived about 2.5 miles away in the Montrose area, and often the only slow-down in my commute was actually getting around the cars sitting in traffic to get onto bike paths along Buffalo Bayou. Considering I would park about .25 miles away on the odd-days I had to drive, biking wasn’t adding to my commute. I did it for two years relatively without incident (I was in one very minor crosswalk accident where a driver swerved around the car yielding to me crossing to hit me), and saved almost a grand a year. If the job had permanent, I probably would’ve just sold my car and used ride-sharing to save a few more thousand dollars a year.

    Reply
    • Jeremy Stone June 9, 2017, 4:14 pm

      Nice! Glad you survived the run-in with the car!

      Reply
  • Neil June 8, 2017, 9:18 am

    Great article. I’m a little skeptical about travel times – Google tells me that my preferred route is 4.8 mi, which it clocks at 30 minutes, and I allow 25 for. Dropping that to 15 seems like it moves from “everyone can do this” into “fit athletes can do this” territory. There’s a serious hill on the way in, though (long and gentle on the way home), so maybe if it was flat with an otherwise similar ability to ride with no traffic or intersections until the last 4 blocks.

    The straighter, basically flat route is 3.9 miles, but requires stopping several times to wait for a safe opportunity to cross busy roads, plus a seven block pavement that looks and feels like it’s in a war zone, so it still takes 25 minutes. (Google clocks that one at 23 minutes).

    Reply
    • Jeremy Stone June 9, 2017, 7:43 am

      Yeah, the Google times can be pretty accurate on the streets because of stop lights and stop signs and such. If you are on trails you can usually beat them.

      Reply
  • Amanda June 8, 2017, 9:21 am

    Woohoo for single car families! My husband and I only have one car! I bike 8 miles to work most days in PHOENIX (hot, hot, hot!). Then a lot of days he is able to swing by and pick me up from work. So, guess I am not a true badass yet either since I snag a ride sometimes in the afternoon. :) Plus of biking in phoenix in the flat roads, and the winters provide a lovely afternoon ride.

    Reply
  • Yog June 8, 2017, 9:27 am

    Hey MMM,
    Your posts are great! I’ve been using your tools for quite awhile now.
    I’m from India and everyone here used to bike or walk wherever they wanted to go, but now have switched to cars and motorbikes. Even if you have 10% of our population use them, the result is the world’s most polluted cities. If out of that 10%, if only 1% had such a mindset, our planet could sustain us for 50 more years.

    Reply
  • Friendly Russian June 8, 2017, 9:28 am

    Great post, recently my wife and I made a choice (exactly, you have to made this choice) do not use our car for distances less than 5 miles.
    At the beginning my thoughts were, “What about our kids (they are 5 and 7 ), how are they going to go to school?” or “What about grocery shopping? We need to drive and use our car to fill the whole trunk with stuff”

    So, in the reality it turned out that our kids are riding bicycles to school (we ride with them as well), we ride to work and for shopping. We bought a couple of used foldable panniers and our shopping rides became much easier.

    Everything is possible, but you have to make this choice.

    Reply

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