Curing your Clown-Like Car Habit

A lineup of Clowns waiting to drive their kids a few blocks home from school, on a beautiful Hawaiian afternoon this January.

A lineup of Clowns waiting to drive their kids a few blocks home from school, on a beautiful Hawaiian afternoon during my vacation (January 2013).

One of the weirdest things about this country is the way people use their cars.

I mean, it takes some serious effort to find a spot in our Three Million Square Mile land area, where you will not see endless lines of seated humans trundling meaninglessly back and forth in these giant and stupendously inefficient machines. Whether you’re on a rocky rural road in the desert, in a deep blizzard high atop the Continental Divide, walking up to the elementary school on a Friday afternoon to retrieve your son, or sitting with your feet in the sand on the Windward shores of Oahu, those fuckin’ cars are right there with you – roaring, stinking, crashing, and impoverishing their owners.

All this would be excusable if all these cars were providing an essential service. If every car trip delivered great rewards to its driver, and by extension to society as a whole, I’d gladly toss down this keyboard and stand up so I could cheer on the heroic drivers as they passed by. Just as I solemnly accept that digging up a 27 kilometre tunnel of solid rock beneath Switzerland to build the Large Hadron Collider was a worthwhile wound to inflict on our planet because of the expected advancements to science, I could accept that paving over most of our cities to accommodate cars is Good.

But unfortunately, that’s not the case. After years of careful study, observations, and interviews with real car drivers, I have come to the conclusion that about 90% of the car use that occurs in the United States is Pure Bullshit. But don’t get out your boxing gloves and start knocking out motorists just yet, because the ridiculousness is baked right into our culture. Our people are victims rather than perpetrators, even if their suffering is rather comical and clown-like.

Luckily, today I’ll present a cure for the problem.

My home town of Longmont, Colorado represents the ultimate laboratory for studying Car Clown disease, as it is sufficiently small and bike-friendly that car trips within town are completely unnecessary. Since groceries and kids are easily handled by a bike trailer, the only reason to drive would be physical impairment, transporting items too large for a trailer, or driving to another city.

Yet these intra-city trips are commonplace. When I see a car ease into a parking spot, I always run to assist the driver with getting out into their wheelchair, but I am stunned to find that they usually have working legs after all! People drive to the school to pick up and drop off kids. To the grocery store. To the restaurants. To the gym. To each other’s houses. Back and forth on Main Street to show off. Every road sees plenty of cars and personal trucks, some of them in dangerous numbers. And inside, every vehicle is equipped with a La-Z-boy recliner, upon which a tragic clown sits, pushing the soft-touch pedals, turning the power-assisted wheel, and talking on some sort of Clownophone.

The clowns have to wait in line when the traffic light turns red. They have to bumble though the parking lots and wait for each other to back out of parking spaces, because their machines are so bulky that two cannot pass each other in a space less than 20 feet wide. They line up at special events and fight for places to park on the streets. Then they line up at the gas station and the car wash and the oil change shop. And the machines make them fatter and poorer every time they use them.

And we haven’t even addressed the most clown-like invention of them all: the drive-through (or ‘drive-thru’ as it they spell it here, which is suitable because “thru” is not even a word, just as drive-through services should not exist). The clowns actually sit for several minutes in a self-imposed traffic jam, engines idling, just so somebody can hand them some shit through the window of their car!

Mustachians like you and I view an idling engine like a bleeding wound or an overflowing toilet. It’s something to be alarmed at, and to correct immediately. But Car Clowns actually idle deliberately, sometimes to get something as ridiculous as a cup of expensive coffee in a disposable paper cup. When I see these lines of Drive-Thru Clowns, I find the urge to get off my bike and walk down the lineup systematically PUNCHING EACH DRIVER IN THE FACE through their open window to be almost overwhelming.

It sounds like a terrible fate when I describe it like that, but yet for almost everyone in the country, this is reality. Most Car Clowns will acknowledge that their lives are pretty inconvenient, but then claim that a car is necessary to prevent the even greater inconveniences of public transit, walking, or not going anywhere at all.

Well, here’s the good news: Car Clown Disease is not an unavoidable thing. It’s simply the product of bad habits. If you can reprogram the bad habits you’ve built around cars, you can slide into the cool camp of Conscious Car Users instead. It’s a land where traffic is sparse, the view out your window is breathtaking, and cost is negligible.

To cure the disease, you just need to change the way you feel about driving. Right now, you probably feel that it’s just something you do because it’s necessary. Maybe you even find it pleasant at times (hell, I sure do). You have the cozy seats, the climate control, the stereo, lights, knobs and buttons, and all that power. You can go anywhere with that thing.

But there’s more to it than that. When you use a 3500-pound car to transport your 150-pound self around, 96 percent of the weight of that clump of matter is the car. You’re moving 25 times more junk around than you need to, and thus using 25 times more energy to do it.

Imagine that you’re hungry for lunch, so you go to a restaurant. But you don’t just order yourself a blackened salmon salad for $15.00. You order twenty five salads for $375.00! Then, you eat one of them, and leave the other 24 blackened salmon salads, $360.00 worth of food, to get collected by the waiter and slopped unceremoniously into a big black garbage bag. All that fine wild-caught Alaskan Salmon, lovingly seasoned and grilled. All the fine crumbles of feta cheese, the mango salsa, diced green onion, shaved peppers, rich zingy dressing, and everything else the chef worked on for hours – plopped into the slimy garbage bag. This is exactly what you are doing, every time you drive!

And you’re not just wasting your own money, of course. You are wasting the gasoline that the rest of the world works so hard to produce, puncturing seabeds and spilling stadium-loads of oil into pristine wilderness areas as a necessary byproduct. Destroying coral reefs and flooding coastlines with your carbon emissions. Clogging roads and creating demand for roadway expansion, indirectly raising your own taxes. It’s a whole lot of badness we’re doing, every time we drive. It’s not just a matter of “Hey, it’ll only cost me ten bucks for the gas”. It’s a matter of choosing to be an asshole. I fully admit that I drive plenty of miles in cars too, and I too am being an asshole every time I do it. Other people think you’re being an asshole when you drive too, and you should be just a little bit embarrassed every time you are seen driving. I sure am.

The goal here is not to create negative stress in your life. Just acknowledge that whenever you turn the key, you need to say, “Here we go. I’m being an asshole again”. It’s a subtle change, but a powerful one once you embrace it. And of course, your assholism scales with the size and weight of the vehicle. If you’re considering driving a pickup truck or large SUV for personal transport, the asshole factor should be so overwhelming that you feel like running inside to cower in a closet every time you even look out at your driveway. Feel the pain. Embrace it. Over time, work to reduce it.

On top of that, every time you drive on a local trip that could be handled by bike, you are telling both the world and yourself, “I am already so physically fit and healthy, that I could not possibly benefit from an extra few miles of biking”. Occasionally this is true, like if you just returned from a mountain century ride and have raw butt cheeks, blistered hands, and absolutely no energy left to crank the pedals. In this situation, sure, go ahead and take the car out to get groceries. You deserve it. For the rest of us, what is your excuse? Unless you just rode 60 miles, you will probably benefit greatly by leaving the car at home.

So there you have it: 3 simple steps to automotive habit change. With every potential car trip, think of the 24 plates of wasted salmon. Ask yourself if it’s worth being a deliberate asshole, and ask yourself if you have any possible use for a bit more health and physical fitness. Do it every time, so it becomes a habit.

You may find your automobile travel being greatly reduced, which of course has massive financial benefits as well. And for those remaining trips that pass the Triple Anti-Car-Clown Gauntlet: well, those are probably some hella good car trips, so you will have such a good time that it will be worth the consequences.


Epilogue, 1 day later: As usual, this article has gathered its share of complaints from new readers. “Waah, Waah, don’t call me a clown”, “Biking is dangerous where I live”, etc.

Instead of continuing my usual bossy insensitive life coach routine, I’ll take a rare moment to remind those people what I’m really trying to accomplish with this article: It’s not to make you feel bad or to try to make myself feel good. It is just to raise awareness about how there really is an alternative to a nothing-but-cars lifestyle if you think about it when making future decisions.

Sure, you might have trapped yourself into a car-dependent lifestyle for now. But remember, you created that trap yourself. If you get in the habit of lightheartedly calling yourself a clown every time you drive, and imagining those 24 plates of wasted food, you’ll start thinking, “hey, maybe there’s another way”.

Then, you might try walking or biking (or hell, even taking the train) on a fair-weather basis. Just do it when it’s easy. Then, it will get easier, which means that soon enough, it will be easy most of the time.

Next time you move to a new house or a new job, suddenly the consideration of “I’d rather not be a car clown” will be in your mind. You will make more balanced decisions. The reason I took the job in Boulder instead of Petaluma way back in 1999 was because I could afford a house within biking distance of work here, but I couldn’t out there. Even if you live in the center of a NASCAR oval right now, and work 67 miles away, you don’t have to do that forever. You, too, have a choice of where you live and work in the future. I’m just planting a seed in your mind.

Only once this seed grows into the fruit of independence, can you wean yourself from the Poisonous Teat of the Automobile.

  • UK Money Motivator April 22, 2013, 6:10 am

    Agreed! I ditched my car when I moved close enough to work to be able to bike (about 1 mile, which with the erratic British weather is just short enough to not get soaking wet if the heavens open up).

    I have saved myself a fortune in fuel and maintenance, and I have a spare car park space behind my house that I am planning on renting out to the loonies with 2 cars and only 1 space!

    After I have punched them in the face for having two cars of course.

    • Dave April 22, 2013, 7:42 pm

      Heh, I got pretty soaked cycling from Watford Junction station to work a few times… Hmm apparently that’s 2.3 miles. I reckon I was soaked by one mile though!

      To be fair, once I got a pair of waterproof leggings and a decent coat, it was better ;)

      • Bob Sayer June 5, 2013, 1:12 pm

        I’ve got a challenge for Mr. Money Moustache

        and his mistaken-belief that “everyone has an alternative called a bicycle”. I want him to hop on his bike and visit my clients. One of them lies in Wilmington DE while the other is in Fredericksburg VA. Meanwhile I will use my 90mpg Honda hybrid (official EPA rating was 70).

        I will grant the bicycle is more efficient at an estimated 500 MPGe. It’s a “green” way to travel. But that’s where the advantages come to an end. The bicycle provided my dad (and my friend’s father) zero protection when they both got hit by cars. A bicycle is more energy-efficient, but at the cost of having nothing to protect your fragile body from impact.

        I drive my 90mpg hybrid down the interstate at 50 miles an hour, so it can cross the distance between the aforementioned cities in just three hours. A bicycle would be more like 30 hours.

        My 90mpg hybrid also has A/C to suck-out the humidity from the air, which means I stay fresh and clean instead of sweaty-and-potentially smelly. In the winter it also provides heat so I don’t get frostbite from the 20 degree weather.

        My 90mpg hybrid is also GREAT for shopping, because I can buy a whole month’s worth of groceries in one stop. That saves time versus a bike trailer that might only carry one week of bags.

        I could go on and on.

        Bottom line: People are not “clowns” just because they have decided a bicylce would not work for their lifestyles. That’s the kind of insulting commentary I would expect from an Alex Jones or Glenn Beck-type person. Not Mr. Money Moustache. (Of course in my experience, liberals and greens are often the most-hateful of any group.)

        • chris June 5, 2013, 2:56 pm

          You’re totally missing the point. MMM has a car himself. The “clown” habits are using the car when it’s not at all neccesary to use a car, buying way more car than you need (unlike your little hybrid), and having two or more cars when one will do nicely. No one is suggesting biking 30 hours to see a client.
          But, somehow I think you know all that I just realized that I’ve now spent two minutes feeding a troll. Oops….

          • Retired To Win December 23, 2013, 4:38 am

            And Chris, don’t forget the clown-like habit of using the car MORE than necessary. Like — as MMM has pointed out — driving off to do single-stop errands. To me, that’s just easily avoidable poor planning.

            By bundling all my errands into a once-a-week “loop” trip, I’m saving $600 a year in errand costs (as opposed to doing 3 errand trips a week). And by stocking a backup supply of everything (from canned milk to an extra printer ink cartridge) I’ve made sure an “emergency” errand is never necessary.

          • Bearded Apprentice October 8, 2014, 8:55 am

            I’m with ya Chris. It’s hard not to comment. I don’t know if the complainypants/excusitis people just skip over those articles or don’t realize that they are one. It’s amazing to me how many people whine and bitch after every article. It’s gotten to the point(I’ve been reading non stop for 3 weeks to get caught up) where I stop after reading a few comments because it’s so annoying.

            MMM is laying out a road map to help many people. If you all you have is negativity and excuses for every article save us all some time….either quit reading or shut the fuck up and try to implement his ideas. Because lets face it, if you were financially independent and had it all figured out you wouldn’t be here in the first place. What you are currently doing with you life isn’t working. Let the ideas sink into your thick skull and start using his road map to make some necessary changes!

            • Grasshopper Underwater April 7, 2015, 7:13 am

              Amen and amen. Just implementing a bit of MMM around my house gets a lot of complainypants-itis, or whatever you call it.

              In these comments and around my living space both, it seems to me to be something akin to fear of inconvenience or fear of doing without?

              I’m new and I can’t quite put my finger on why so many react snarkily to advice from a person…and people like you all…who are debt-free, retired, and never have to work again. I just don’t get it.

            • Hitchcock Sewell February 25, 2016, 10:48 am

              “Clown” is nicespeak. In the best of ways. Ambassador MMM is encouraging us to lean-toward-friendly, even when spanking where spanking is called for. I believe he has love in his heart for the clowns. Eye-rolling love . . . but that’s fine.

        • TheGooch August 30, 2013, 6:38 am

          I’ve noted MMM writing style often comes off like he is completely blind to realityies outside of his own. I think it’s a combination of writing style and his desire to stress to people ( or even push ) to at least consider other options, like biking. Look at integrating it where it fits, and if it doesn;t fit anywhere, at least you considered it!

          My car feeds me news and financial podcasts that have turned my finances around 180* and my net worth is much the better for having heard them on my commute/grocery shopping/clothing shopping/etc. I’d never get that on a bike, and I’d be a sweaty mess 24/7 if I rode my bike everywhere since it’s 100F+ degrees here in the Summer.

          Still. Consider it. Integrate what fits your life situation, and keep on swimming.

          • Francisco August 31, 2013, 5:11 pm

            You can listen to music/podcast/radio on your bike. I wouldn’t recommend headphones, because I personally think it is dangerous to block outside sounds while riding, but I have an outdoors Bluetooth speaker in my handlebar, and it’s great for listening to podcasts/music.

            I personally use this one, but there are a bunch of brands, many of them you can find in daily deal pages now and then.



            oh wow, it looks like they’ve just release a newer smaller/more portable version with bike mount included! (i had to buy my bike mount separately)
            It’s this:

            • Cycle Deva July 7, 2018, 6:44 pm

              I stick my iphone in my bra and can hear the podcast and street at the same time!

          • Cujo September 1, 2013, 1:53 pm

            It’s 100F+ in the summer where I live too, and I bike anyway. I may be a sweaty mess, but I’m a sweaty mess with a bushier ‘stash, and I’m healthier too. If you choose not to bike, fine, but don’t act like it’s impossible, because obviously it is not.

            • Daniel March 9, 2017, 11:19 am

              Agreed… If you choose not to bike, fine, but don’t use those arguments against those who choose to it. City halls are full with people against bike lanes using those same “it’s hot in here / there’s too many hills / etc” arguments.

              I live in a tropical country, 100F is the norm for about 5 to 6 months here.

              Yes, you do became a sweaty mess sometimes, but there’s way around it.

              It’s not impossible, in fact it only gets easier the more you do it.

        • Darris June 30, 2014, 9:56 pm

          Statistically, biking is safer than driving.
          You also have the benefit of being more physically fit.

          It also saves you money in maintenance.

          What would really allow the biking culture to replace the car culture would be shifting taxation off of income and onto land. It would encourage efficient use of space so there would be more economic activity per square foot. That means fewer parking lots and more bikers. The more people on bikes, the safer bikes become. It’s the clowns in cars that kill the bikers, the bikers aren’t killing themselves.

          • Craig August 14, 2014, 11:14 am

            The sooner we reach critical mass, a higher percentage of cyclists vs. drivers, the quicker our infrastructure will align with the needs of cyclists, like wider bike lanes separated by parked cars,… and the sooner we achieve MMM’s vision of Badass Utopia. Which is Nice ;-)

            • Ian November 13, 2014, 9:27 am

              Utopia is a fun word. Coming from the roots “ou” and “topos,” it literally means “no place.” Achieving his vision of a badass nowhere is pretty close to how things are now.

            • Robert Sullivan February 6, 2017, 12:39 pm

              There is the grass roots movement but this can also be from a higher level. Consider the blue zones project: https://www.bluezonesproject.com

          • Scott April 10, 2015, 10:44 am

            Cars are over ten times safer than bikes per mile.


        • Robert Sullivan February 9, 2017, 11:28 am

          Settle down kid, this isn’t a blanket statement, it’s a call to sanity. For 300 mile drives of course a car makes sense. But as MMM points out, YMMV – much of driving is unnecessary like the school example, typical in every suburb. ridiculous. Check out the @BlueZones project for orgs trying to make a difference.

        • Andrew Mullen April 4, 2017, 4:55 pm

          MMM is making a legit point here. Our cities our jammed pack with congestion, our air is heavy with pollutants, and the avg American is in subpar health. The way we use our vehicles is just terribly inefficient. The average car sits idle 96% of the time, carries 1.2 people per trip, and is an Americans second largest monthly expense…madness! Capacity utilization must increase along with higher occupancy trips. This is all starting to happen with ride sharing and autonomy and we are on the brink of epic disruption. As population density increases so will capacity utilization of the new shared automobile. Most people will not even own cars and we will be freeing up precious space in our cities, using energy much more efficiently, and doing our part to curb climate change. I am 100% on board!

    • Giddings Plaza FI April 24, 2013, 10:31 am

      I just ditched my car also, about 5 weeks ago. And like you, am going to rent out my garage to some sucker who still owns a vehicle. That said, because I haaaate biking (did it too much in sub-zero temperatures while in college), I walk to most places, take the bus quite a bit, and about 5 or 6 times a months, do carsharing (the two cities I live in during the year, Seattle and Chicago, have ZipCar and Car2Go). http://giddingsplaza.com/2013/03/01/goodbye-saturn-sl1-hello-carsharing/

    • Miss Growing Green October 29, 2013, 7:44 am

      Nice job! That’s better than I’ve done, but we did downsize from 2 cars to 1, and, like you, have saved tons in fuel and maintenance. We would never go back to having 2 cars again!

      We also rent our one car out to help cover the cost of maintenance.

    • Smacky The Frog January 8, 2015, 6:39 am

      I get your passion. I myself have deliberately moved to an area that is bike friendly for my general needs including work. It feels like a liberation to cast away the steel and plastic death-mobile for hearty exercise and enjoyment when traveling to my employment, stores or for a general ride to enjoy the area in which I live.

      Do I love my car? Absolutely — when necessary. Just like you mentioned the salmon salads — I like those too, but I would only need to eat one, not 25.

      I feel the real demon behind America’s obsession with the auto comes from the devil its self — Marketing. Its a status symbol, a rite of passage when one turns 16. The liberation from the home, parents, authority (oh, teenagers are invincible, forget about the 5-O) and adventures with your friends, the FREEDOM. Gas, insurance, repairs, environmental cost, waste of land for parking lots and the damage that asphalt plants create? Don’t worry about those, how could one when they’re driving around in their shiny car with all of ones friends… it will get the girl, show ones success in life and be the trophy in ones driveway. Yes, all part of the fabricated American dream. Fuck you Marketing.

    • James Roberts April 13, 2015, 11:55 am

      Love the “car clown” approach: I’ve weaned myself off the car teat despite my aging hips (they’re 60 but I feel about 30) and I commute 40-kilometers per day on my electric bike. I used to do it on my road bike but it was too tough. I did purchase an expensive e-bike but taking into account no fuel, parking, maintenance and insurance I paid for the $5,000 purchase in 18-months. The joy of being released from car clown status is worth way more.
      -James in North Vancouver, BC

      • Mr. Money Mustache April 15, 2015, 8:59 pm

        Yeah! James Roberts from the CBC!

        Glad to hear you are such an avid cyclist even in the harsh world of big-city Vancouver – you are showing the deniers HOW IT IS DONE :-)

    • Chester December 27, 2015, 1:40 pm

      The worst thing I have experienced was this self made traffic jam he is talking about, just two weeks ago I was going to a soup restaurant with my children, it was next to a greasy processed food fast food place, the line was actually blocking all traffic from entering and parking in the parking lot to the area, so I had to sit half in the street and half in the drive entrance trying to get in and turn to the parking because about 20 cars were needlessly lined up for this fat indulging of theirs, they didn’t at any point say what if we just walk inside instead since we will block traffic by lining up here, it was a 20 min wait just to park in the huge empty parking lot then enter the unoopular empty healthier food soup restraint to get something to eat. I could not believe it, it was probably the height of human idiocy. I would have put my vehicle in reverse but the clowns had me blocked in from behind too.

      • Ryan December 31, 2015, 8:02 am

        Sounds like you should have rode a bike

        • Mr. Money Mustache December 31, 2015, 1:22 pm

          Nice one Ryan, you beat me to it.

          Any time there are enough businesses, parking lots, driveways, cars, etc. that a traffic jam is even POSSIBLE, I take that as a sign to keep my own car far away from that area.

          Bikes are AMAZING in urban areas, while cars are fantastic for crossing mountain ranges and deserts hundreds of miles from civilization. When you’re in a hurry, that is, because bikes are pretty awesome for that second thing too.

          • Nicolas September 24, 2018, 10:33 am

            My nickname for the tribe of humans stuck in traffic in their cars is People Who Are Not In A Hurry (PWANIAH).

            It’s funny because of course they’re in a hurry. They just chose the worst way to get around and will endlessly blame the city/construction workers/politicians/cyclists/pedestrians/other drivers for decades and decades without realizing they themselves are the trafic.

  • Chris April 22, 2013, 6:17 am

    One of the last BIG changes we’re trying to make in our lifestyle! We’re in the process of moving closer to work. This will cut my commute from 24 miles to 12. Goal is to ride the bike to work at least one day/week. This, combined with a short commute and making my own biodiesel should keep my fuel cost to less than 20$/month for my car, also biodiesel pollutes way less than gasoline. The small town we’re moving to will be completely bikeable for trips to the grocery store, etc.,-can’t wait!

    • Sofie October 19, 2013, 2:39 pm

      Biodiesel pollutes way more, because it uses oil to grow stuff to burn instead of just buring the oil. Not to mention the ecologial damage done by growing the crops.

      • Innocent Bystander November 11, 2013, 11:10 pm

        Generally, it doesn’t. Biodiesel production is much more efficient than ethanol production, but in any case, I imagine that he is producing it from waste vegetable oil, which would normally be discarded, so he’s probably not contributing to much ecological damage, anyway.

        • Cycle Deva July 7, 2018, 6:51 pm

          Usually used vegetable oil is picked up and used in boilers.
          Just remember, there are no savior fuels out there. Clown-Consumption is the true sin. (being metaphorical here)

  • Ryan April 22, 2013, 6:27 am

    I love this entry. Thanks for the extra pushes on your blog. I have been putting off biking to work again for the usual dumb reasons (it’s too cold, I can’t get up early enough, or today it’s because I’m giving blood and they say no strenuous activity for five hours) but I had a big “Here we go. I’m being an asshole again” moment this morning. As traffic backed up for miles making me 30 minutes late for work because of highway construction, I looked longingly at the bike path that runs alongside the highway. From now on, I ride. I’m also figuring out how to make DIY grocery panniers so I can carry home food from the store 2.5 miles away.

    I’d like to hear your take on electric bicycles sometime. I’ve never used them, but I can see a massive appeal in them. They remove one of the hurdles people have to riding (exertion, which could be BS or could be legitimate considering the person’s age). They also cost pennies to operate and I imagine they’re super fun to ride. Electric bicycles cost a lot, but there are kits you can retrofit to your own bicycle that cost only a few hundred dollars.

    • Ann April 22, 2013, 9:48 am

      DIY pannier workshop May 18th:


      I run this workshop. I’ve used my bucket panniers for three years almost daily. They’re completely waterproof, and your stuff doesn’t get crushed like it does in a soft-sided bag.

      • AEB April 22, 2013, 1:06 pm

        I may try these out. I have so far been hesitant to commute because I would need to bring lunch and a change of clothes. My backpack on my shoulders made my back hurt by the time I arrived. This could be a good solution.


      • Ryan April 22, 2013, 3:09 pm

        Those look really neat! I’m nowhere near Colorado, but I’m going to have to look into these. Thanks.

        • Mara April 23, 2013, 8:59 pm

          I made a set of the bucket panniers (using the same set of directions, about 3 years ago! Ha!) and it was cheap, easy, and waterproof. I’ve never had a single problem!
          If you have a lighter bike frame, depending on the weight of your load, it can make the back end of the bike quite heavier. My partners bike felt unsteady until he got used to the added weight-though we toured with these panniers, so I bet we carried a far heavier load than commuting to work!
          Good luck!

      • Dave April 22, 2013, 7:45 pm

        Looks like a really good idea. I wonder how it’d work on my little folding Dahon. Probably those buckets are too deep, but it’d be worth me looking into it!

      • Linda April 25, 2013, 4:17 am

        Drat, this is so awesome! I’d register in a heartbeat if I lived in the US. I guess I’ll have to wait until we visit our family in Boulder :)

    • Judith April 22, 2013, 10:18 am

      I find electric bikes to be pigs. Heavy because of the battery weight, so you end up relying on the electricity a lot! Buy a good bike that is no more than 26-28 pounds and you will get in shape and enjoy it more. Sure the hills are a challenge the first season, but it only gets easier! I would challenge myself by switching back to a more difficult gear just as I am approaching the crest of the hill. That way you continue to get stronger and all your riding gets easier.
      Also, fwiw, I am no spring chicken. If it can be done at 58…. seems like anyone can ride a bike without a battery.

    • Lens April 23, 2013, 11:13 pm

      Something you might want to consider is a Wald rear carrier for your bike. It costs a little more than $60 (depending on the model and size) after shipping/handling and mounting hardware but it holds 2 twelve packs of soda in each pannier plus whatever you want affix to the top using bungee cords. It is ultimately cheaper than buying a rear rack for your bike (about $35) and then affixing two baskets to the sides (about $30 each) and it looks nicer because it was designed as a single unit.

      Here is a link http://www.waldsports.com/index.cfm/wald570-520-535rearcarriers.html

      I bought my Wald 535 (the largest model) about 8 months ago and it has paid for itself a couple of times over in terms of gas savings. I don’t think that I have driven to the grocery store, fast food restaurants, or other nearby destinations more that half a dozen times since I bought it.

    • Goosoid July 3, 2013, 9:34 pm

      I have an electric bike here in Auckland, New Zealand and they are awesome. However good you think it might be, it is better.

      I would just pay for the full electric bike – I think once you shop around you will be surprised how cheap they are really. I paid NZ$1,700 (I think about US$1,400) for mine. I wouldnt pay less than $1,000 for a good commuting bike and the extra $400 is well worth it,.

      The thing is the full electric bikes have disc brakes and good integrated lights that make it so much better. Kits are clumsy and tend never to work as well.

    • Scott October 7, 2014, 9:04 pm

      Hi, I’m from the future! Good news, in just over a year and 5 months from the date of your comment, MMM will post an article of his thoughts on ebikes. I shall retrieve the link from the future and bring it back in time to post to you here: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2014/09/30/electric-bikes-gateway-drug-to-bike-commuting/

  • rjack (Mr. Asset Allocation) April 22, 2013, 6:29 am

    A classic MMM rant! Well, it’s better than a plain old rant, because he supplies a solution. Maybe we need a Car Clown’s Anonymous. Just don’t drive to the meetings.

    Anyway, I’ll stand up and admit that I’m a Car Clown sometimes, so I have some work to do. I’m willing to try harder.

    But here are a few car clown moves that others do that make me crazy:

    1) Driving somewhere to go running. Just walk outside and start running!
    2) Driving to the gym.
    3) Listening to complaining about lack of parking at our local library. I always walk to our library.
    4) See lines of cars to pick up high school kids after school. I see this while I’m walking to the library and believe me some of these kids need to do more walking.

    • Ed April 6, 2014, 9:28 pm

      Ya, I live where you can take an amazing bluff walk… Ebby’s Landing… anf folks go to a gym and get on a treadmill!!!! :):)

  • PeteyP April 22, 2013, 6:35 am

    I’m far too lazy to drive, biking is just so much easier. Comparing a 2.5km return journey (5km total) on a like-for-like basis, assuming no traffic:

    If you ride a bike, you’ve just done about 19 minutes of exercise, which is a reasonably daily minimum of activity to avoid serious health problems.

    If you drive a car, you’ve sat on your ass for 9 minutes, maybe spent 2 minutes looking for a parking space, and you’ve spent 3 minutes longer at work to pay for the cost of the journey (this figure will vary depending on what car you drive and how much you get paid). That’s 14 minutes so far, but you haven’t got your daily exercise in yet, and I said we’re doing it on a like-for-like basis, so that’ll be an extra 19 minutes. That’s 33 minutes – I can’t be bothered with all that fuss!

    When you’re on a bike you’re inherently multitasking – you’re getting exercise, having fun and getting to your destination. In a car you’re just sitting and burning money, and that exercise still needs to get done so you’re not saving any time.

    So if you’re doing a car trip less than 5km and you haven’t had your 30 minutes of daily exercise yet, then you are actually SLOWING YOURSELF DOWN by taking the car when you take everything into account.

    • olivia April 22, 2013, 11:44 am

      I couldn’t agree more. I was ecstatic to sell my car and take public transit once I moved to my current location, and now I’m biking and I love it even more. I get about 30-40 minutes of exercise daily just from biking to work. 3 weeks in and I’m already huffing and puffing way less. (And I was exercising before, just not biking, so biking really is a great workout.)

      • Sandra June 1, 2014, 11:36 pm

        Wait! You have public transit? We kinda do but it runs from 8-4:30 M-F and it costs way more than car expense. $8 per boarding. I don’t have a car but borrow my daughter’s for a few things per week. So I guess I’m not a clown. Also the Prius doesn’t run when you are in a line at the drive-thru. It uses the electric motor to move forward and run the A/C. You young kids can do that but I’m 74 and disabled since 59.

        PS MMM I think I remember my grandmother saying you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Just sayin’

  • Johnny Moneyseed April 22, 2013, 6:36 am

    I love the enthusiasm for biking and I wish it was something that we could embrace ourselves but it just isn’t possible. The roads in our area are so dangerous, even for cars, there’s no way to sustain a lifestyle by bike. I wish though. Maybe when we move out to Denver in retirement (6.5 years).

    I think this post should have been published in May. Your post in early April was supposed to encourage people to start becoming conscious of their vehicle usage and now we’re all clowns. However, I totally agree with your overall point. Especially as I read this post while sitting in my car waiting for the workday to start (but you can bet your balls the engine is off).

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 22, 2013, 7:17 am

      What city are you in, Johnny M.? I’ve always wanted to see if I would feel the same way about an unbikeable city. Can I stop by and try your work and grocery commutes by bike? It could make a great story.

      • Pablo April 22, 2013, 7:29 am

        And don’t forget to count the number of grocery carts left in the parking lot- 20 feet from where they should be returned, so the drivers don’t have to risk blistering their feet with the extra effort.

        • Mr. Frugal Toque April 22, 2013, 9:24 am

          Strangely, I knew a guy who insisted on not taking his cart to a corral and thought it was weird that “all you people here” do it. There are employees, he told me, who are *paid* to do that so the rest of us don’t have to be bothered.
          Seemed short-sighted to me.
          If everyone behaved that way, the cart wranglers would never be able to keep up and parking lot traffic would snarl to a stop.

          • Dr.Vibrissae April 22, 2013, 11:09 am

            Ugh, I HATE it when people don’t return their carts. Then they just sit around in the middle of the lot, or the middle of the parking space, or in the middle of the planters (once saw some one wheel their cart over, lift it up and park it in the mulch under a tree, even though the corral was closer). Stores have employees to retrieve them from the corrals, if they are not in the corrals, you’re just being an ass, and making a nuisance for everyone. It’s like saying, ‘I shouldn’t have to put my trash in the cans, there are people who are paid to pick up trash.” Ok rant over, I’ll get off my personal hobby horse now.

            • Chris April 22, 2013, 7:55 pm

              +1. This is a supreme pet peeve of mine. I never cease to be amazed that people can’t be bothered to return their carts?

            • Dillon April 23, 2013, 8:40 am

              +1. It just goes against a productive society on so many levels. I’ve noticed carts seem to be in more order, on average, at Aldi’s…….. Just saying, perhaps that quarter is enough incentive even for people that spend thousands above their needs to sit comfortably in their huge SUV which always seems to be driven by 1 person with zero passengers.

              Quick anecdote: When I lived in Tallahassee for grad school, I lived on the west side of town and there was a Wal-mart supercenter nearby. Talk about people who can’t be bothered!! I shopped there once to learn my lesson. The parking lot was disgusting. There was the awful combination of a Wal-mart being understaffed and people not only not returning their carts, but deciding to throw out all their garbage onto the pavement as well which had attracted a double digit visible population of cats and I’m sure a four digit population of rodents. Did I mention the parking lot wasn’t the flattest and a cart left alone by a jackass could very well be rolling a few seconds later?

            • Emmers April 27, 2013, 6:39 pm

              I have literally heard people say that (about trash in the cans). I was younger then, but I think if I heard it today I wouldn’t keep my mouth shut. It’s a dreadful attitude.

          • Marcia April 22, 2013, 1:09 pm

            That used to be my job! Which is why I always return my cart. It cracks me up to see an able bodied person leave their cart in the middle of a crowded parking lot. I usually give them the “are you kidding me?” look as I push my cart back to the front WITH MY BABY IN IT, and then carry him back to the car. Really.

            • plam April 23, 2013, 4:58 pm

              Carts? I almost never take the cart out of the store, if I use one, because I transport my stuff in a backpack or a messenger bags if I can. I do need some sort of non-handheld bag for the bike.

              This wouldn’t work as well at Costco, I guess.

            • Mr. Money Mustache April 23, 2013, 9:40 pm

              The bike rack is always right next to the store where they keep the main stash of carts, so it’s very quick to return it after transferring the big load of groceries from cart to bike trailer.

            • Ben Alexander June 10, 2013, 10:59 am

              If it’s a store without a bike rack, the cart corral things make great racks. There is also plenty of room for a trailer or the extra large tandem+trailer my wife and I use for home improvement errands. I do prefer locking to stuff close to the door, though.

          • Cujo December 27, 2013, 7:35 am

            Presumably these are the same people who throw their trash on the floor at the movie theater.

      • J April 22, 2013, 7:55 am

        I find it hard to believe that any area in the US is truly un-bikable. Though this is coming from someone who rides a bike on roads with no shoulder where over 50% of the pickup trucks have four wheels in the back and exhaust pipes coming out of the bed of the truck (and most even have a confederate flag flying).

        • Stephen @ SE April 22, 2013, 10:11 am

          I attest to the fact that some cities a 100% more bikeable than others. I currently live in an extremely bike friendly town (for GA). But this was my choice and I consciously decided that to live here partially for that reason. I did grow up in a slightly rural area and my families house sits squarely on top of a large hill/mountain (views are great). I am a competitive distance runner and avid biker and it is still painful walking up the thing. Biking up it is seriously nasty. We lived about 7 miles from friends/neighbors/non-farms and biking to the grocery store would take a long time, if you could even make it. I know this sounds complainy pants but there are plenty of people who live in less than ideal biking areas that makes it much tougher to do.

          This realization happened when I visited Denver for the first time to ski this winter and I borrowed my friends bike to ride around town. I had that epiphanal moment where I was like “this is why people think everyone should bike”. I literally road 20 miles effortlessly all over the city. With the fancy bike trails/lanes and flat river areas it felt so relaxing. It was so much easier than even one trek of my childhood home’s hill (< .75 miles). I could look around the city and couldn't believe in a town like that people would even want to own cars!

          I dislike driving cars and in fact I sold mine two years ago to ride my bike. I love to ride but for the reasons outlined above I understand why a lot of people (even those who love bikes) don't ride all the time.

          • John Danks April 22, 2013, 11:46 am

            I have a big hill on my route home. I ride the first block if there are no cars parked, but otherwise I get off and walk. It’s always OK to get off and walk up a hill.

            • Catccc April 26, 2013, 6:18 am

              I love this. Because I would love to bike to work (10 miles), but there are a few hills I know I cannot handle at my current level of biking. (My current level of biking is “I used to do it when I was a kid at the bottom of my court.”) I don’t know why I thought I wasn’t “allowed” to get off the bike and walk! And I’d only have to do that one-way. My commute is narrow, two-way roads. But I do occasionally see bikers on it, so I think most people that travel the road are aware of their presence; I know I am. Plus, it’s beautiful. Winding thru the woods along the creek and all. Love Southeast PA.

            • Dr. Beard April 26, 2013, 9:43 pm

              I live in Okinawa, Japan. If you aren’t familiar with the Battle of Okinawa, it was brutal, partly because the island is so hilly. My husband and I starting biking to work recently. The hospital where we work is on the top of the same ridge where we live. Unfortunately, there is no direct route, so we go uphill both ways. The hills are loooong and steep. It took me a week to ride all the way up without walking partway. I am still a weak-legged mess (who rides the elevator up 1 floor) when I first get to work, but the hills are getting easier and easier. I can ride halfway up before I have to gear down. The downhills are awesome! I’m loving the fresh air and fitness. OTOH, talk to me when the humidity kicks in…and typhoon season.

          • chris April 23, 2013, 11:44 am

            I live very rurally currently. It ends up being very bike unfriendly due to distance and icky roads. Thankfully drivers being idiots usually not a factor.

        • Eric April 22, 2013, 10:19 am

          I’ve started biking alot this year, and I have found that this trucks are the rudest with bikers. They tend to be the ones honk and just squeeze past you.

        • Brian April 22, 2013, 11:36 am

          J., I feel like you might be here in Mississippi with me (or really close with that flag comment). This area (Tupelo) isn’t very bike friendly at all, but I do it just the same more than I used to. It helps that I moved inside the city limits and am now just 4 miles away from work. The main issue is the lack of intelligence of the drivers. The “you are in my way” mentality of those who don’t bike is so pervasive here. If I had to ride on roads where the speed limit was above 45, I think the lack of shoulders would drop me from the list of commuters and back into clown academy.

          • Christy April 22, 2013, 6:46 pm

            About ten years ago I lived in Tuscaloosa, AL. Biking was difficult because the roads did not have shoulders. I stopped biking after multiple incidents of having drivers yell at me, throw things out the car window at me, and swerve towards me.

            Today I live in Corvallis, OR, which is an incredibly bike friendly town. Because of my past experiences, I really appreciate the vision and efforts of the folks who during the 1970s laid the groundwork for a bike-friendly community.

            • Rob aka Captain and Mrs Slow April 27, 2013, 2:46 pm

              Funny my brother bikes from Waterloo to Kitchener and he can’t believe the difference between two cites which are literally side by side, I’m guessing it has to do with the fact Waterloo refuses to allow poor people live there:)

      • Johnny Moneyseed April 22, 2013, 1:36 pm

        MMM, we live in Glen Burnie, Maryland. We’d love to have you if you want to check it out. We can make it to the grocery store alright by bike, but the commute to work is impossible. I just looked up the best bike route on Google Maps, and the road they suggest is a gauntlet.

        • Mr, 1500 April 22, 2013, 3:02 pm


          Scary. What ruins it for me in some places is high-traffic roads/smart phones. As a motorcyclist, I am hyper-sensitive to what is going on around me in traffic. I see people distracted all the time, swerving and barely missing other cars. My fear is that I am taken out by a distracted driver. I mounted a rear-view mirror on my helmet and suggest that others do the same.

          Unrelated, but my longest work commute was Chicago back to Madison, Wisconsin. It was 128 miles and took me 12 hours, but it felt pretty awesome when done (except for my baboon red ass).

        • Mr. Money Mustache April 22, 2013, 6:47 pm

          I dunno, Moneyseed – I looked up that pleasant little hamlet you live in outside of Baltimore, and it looks pretty damned bike-friendly.

          Then Mrs. MM and I did a little searching around to analyze the bike culture and found several online discussions that indicate the same thing.

          If I can get myself to Maryland this spring, I WILL BE ACCEPTING THE CHALLENGE AND BIKING YOUR COMMUTE!!! :-)

          • Johnny Moneyseed April 22, 2013, 7:44 pm

            You can’t call me out and not tell me your source! I want to see if these people are as crazy as I think they are. I’ve seen one bicycle on the road in the past year and a half since we’ve lived here and the rider almost died. Hell, if you make your way out here, I’ll try out the commute myself. I’ll just need to take out a decent life insurance policy first haha.

            • bogart April 23, 2013, 8:07 am

              I don’t know MMM’s sources, but I thought this was interesting and decided to dig around and find some data.

              Per data from the American Community Survey 2006-2010, retrieved using this website: http://download.ctpp.transportation.org/profiles_2012/transport_profiles.html , Glen Burnie has 2.7% of people getting to work via public transport, 1% walking, and 0.1% biking. I can’t remember where MMM lives (lousy stalker I’d make!) so I grabbed Boulder, those numbers are 9.7%, 9.3%
              9.8%, respectively.

              I couldn’t quickly find community-level data on road density, but guesstimating using data from this site: http://www.enchantedlearning.com/usa/states/area.shtml and this one: http://www.cubitplanning.com/blog/2010/02/road-miles-by-state/ , MD as a whole has 5.6 miles of road per square mile of area; CO has 1.8.

            • Mr. Money Mustache April 29, 2013, 8:57 pm

              Cool surveys at that CTPP site.

              Longmont scores pretty poorly, at 0.8% biking to work. To be fair, many people work in Boulder, and to get there in less than an hour you need to do a bike/bus combination. But that still leaves at least 20% of us who live and work here, and thus have no excuse not to bike to work every day.

              The good news is that the data is a little old – things have been changing rapidly in the last few years, in part because of the Bicycle Longmont advocacy group (http://www.bicyclelongmont.org/). On my various bike errands today, I was shocked at how many people were out on bikes on the normal, non-bike-path streets. Good changes are in the works around here, just as they will soon be in Glen Burnie ;-)

            • ezcc April 24, 2013, 9:43 am

              Well I don’t know where you are commuting to but I have a friend who commuted regularly from Pasadena into mid-town Baltimore by bike nearly every day, so I think it could be done. I live in Baltimore, and see more and more bikes on the road- I have 3 kids so that makes things challenging, but I want to work on biking/walking as much as we can this summer.

          • DP April 23, 2013, 9:38 am

            If you want to venture a few miles northward to Pennsylvania, I would welcome your input on biking in older, high-crime cities. I work in a crime-ridden city and ride my bike to work from a nearby, quiet suburb. The two main options for commuting in are (1) a major artery with cloverleaf interchange and no shoulder, or (2) a lovely riverfront bike bath where unsuspecting victims are occasionally (about once per quarter) mugged or worse. I usually take option (1) in the mornings and option (2) on the way home in the afternoon. It’s always a tough choice between battling the inattentive SUV drivers versus the overly attentive criminals. So far no injuries (although I’ve also been pondering what the Mustachian approach to self defense would be).

            • TOM April 24, 2013, 9:34 am

              I believe the Mustachian response is to analyze risk, mitigate what you can when necessary, and decide from there.
              I would guess that an alert bicyclist moving at 15+mph in the early evening (lots of sunlight these days) would not be an easy target for these once-a-quarter muggers. Perhaps if they were as committed as Somali pirates or something, but I would bet there isn’t much to worry about.
              I commute on a US Highway to work on bike, which some people think is crazy, but I look on the bright side – wide shoulders! Included in my trip is passing a very busy local shopping center (dozens of businesses, including a large grocery store and four (yes, 4!) banks). Occasionally, crimes are committed there. But for as busy as the road and plaza are, I’ve rarely passed by people or had close calls with vehicles. If anything, I’m probably inconveniencing more drivers by biking more slowly than they would like through the turn lanes. That certainly happens moreso than me almost getting hit; I would say maybe twice in 2 seasons of commuting.

            • Tyler April 24, 2013, 9:55 am

              I’d take option (2) in the mornings. Criminal types aren’t known to be early risers, as a class.

          • Emmers April 27, 2013, 6:44 pm

            Oooooh, I want to read about the Glen Burnie commute!

        • Tommygon April 23, 2013, 10:35 am

          Johnny, I live in Annapolis, work in Arnold and sometimes up in Glen Burnie. I agree that biking in this area is difficult.. A lot of high speed highway, sprawl, and few good bike routes. Being from the eastern shore, I find drivers to be especially dickish over here. Which way is your commute? I’m doing a combo of MTA busses and biking to get around. The B and A trail helps me out too.

          • Tommygon April 23, 2013, 10:42 am

            Also, MMM, from my experience I would not characterize Glen Burnie as a “pleasant hamlet.” Although I guess it is in “the land of pleasant living.”

      • noodlez89 April 23, 2013, 12:01 am

        Can you stop by Kuala Lumpur? I would love to bike here but it remains to be a fantasy….

      • Cynthia April 23, 2013, 3:19 am

        We bike all over where we live in Europe, but when I come home to Atlanta (marietta), it seems unthinkable to bike—even for a committed biker!
        the roads are so narrow that you can barely pass other cars (even in my little Honda Civic hatch), then no sidewalk, and a sharp drop off to the ditch which makes even walking crazy (and I’ve tried to walk on those roads!) …

        Plus the city is famous for its Urban sprawl–people says let’s meet for lunch half way between our places, and you spend 45 minutes in the car without traffic!!! to get there!!!

        It’s totally insane, but apart from staying inside my house and seeing no one, I’m not sure how to get around it. Except by moving to Europe! which is what I’ve done…but for the other 6 million Atlantans…

        • Debbie M April 23, 2013, 9:48 am

          A different Atlanta suburb is the only place where I had drivers yell out their windows at me “Get a car!” I was walking, and there was a huge shoulder, and I was not in their way at all, and the weather was always good when this happened.

          In a suburb of Dallas, people were instead offering me rides. In gorgeous weather. And I was walking on sidewalks. And yet there they were, with their pitying, motherly looks.

          Let’s not even talk about the whistling or the howling and other dog noises.

          So, it’s not always about the road conditions.

      • jrome April 26, 2013, 7:52 pm

        If he doesn’t take you up on that offer I will

      • jen December 27, 2013, 7:31 am

        Soo… did you try to bike his city?? Make it a story!!!

    • Mrs PoP April 22, 2013, 8:47 am

      I struggle with that a bit, too – Johnny. Our summers can have some pretty nasty storms that pop up in the afternoons. The wind and rain can come out of nowhere and have tropical storm strength gusts that I think could knock most people around pretty well. Controlling a car in some of these storms can be a challenge, and I wouldn’t want to risk it on a bike. But I can’t control when they happen.

      I think transitioning to bike only would be pretty doable if I either worked at home or flex schedule without a dedicated commute time, or when we reach FI and can schedule our own activities. But until then, I feel like I’m just going to have to incorporate more bike riding on days when the weather looks cooperative and hope for the best!

  • Cheryl April 22, 2013, 6:41 am

    I used to be able to identify cars as they went past the dog and I on our way to school in the afternoon (a mile walk, 15 minutes at a leisurely tree sniffing pace) and would see them sitting in line at the kiss and drop at school when we got there. It was a pretty big treat for the kiddo to be picked up in the car.
    I still have to work at not plonking myself back in the car to go places around our local big centre – the library is a whole 4 blocks away, I’ll have to carry all my books all that way!

    I’ll be driving into town tomorrow for shopping (not quite back up to the bike yet) but I plan to multipurpose by taking the dog and going for a walk with some different scenery while we’re there. He’s not up for the distance into town and back but a wander round to the hardware and down to the river, yes please!

  • Mr, 1500 April 22, 2013, 6:50 am

    The walk to our school is less than 1000′ (500′ if you take the over the fence shortcut) and some of my immediate neighbors drive there. The worst offender is one who has a massive SUV that warms the thing up for 10 minutes ahead of time.

    The sad thing is that biking is actually looked down on by many. I’ve had people ask me why my drivers license was revoked, because that must be the only reason I’d be commuting with a bicycle. Sigh…

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 22, 2013, 7:21 am

      Every time you do it, though, you are changing the opinions of drivers.

      In the most car-centric cities, the only bikers are those that are down on their luck – homeless people and DUI recipients. They are dressed differently than the drivers typically dress, so the drivers assume they are a different species.

      When a driver sees a person similar to themselves (age, apparent income, clothing, ethnic group, etc) riding a bike, it is much more difficult to dismiss biking as an activity of the poor. The growing bike culture in my own neighborhood is pretty amazing in this regard – you can see people making the mental switch at school drop-off.

      • CALL 911 April 22, 2013, 10:28 am

        I’m not helping the cause, since I look nothing like them. I wear a helmet (which everyone knows is unfashionable), and a rediculous “safety green” vest with reflective strips like an airport ramp worker, or road construction crew member. If it’s anything other than broad daylight (dawn, dusk, night) I have front and rear lights. I don’t trust people to see me when they’re answering the phone, while drinking slurpees, adding an address to their GPS and yelling at the kid in the back. Any ideas about blending high fashion with high visibility?

        • Lina April 22, 2013, 11:38 am

          This reasoning is interesting from a European or in my case from a Swedish perspective, where biking has become really popular during the last years. The business magazines are having articles about CEO:s or people in leading positions in big companies telling about how exercising is playing a major role in their life and how they are biking to work. Many of them promote biking in their companies. There is a lot talk about promoting biking in cities. It has become such a popular so that even the politicians have started talking about the benefits of biking and being featured biking in newspaper articles.

          A couple of week ago one of the large newspapers had some articles about how exercising is promoted in companies and overly enthusiastic bosses by promoting exercising are basically forcing their employees that want to advance to exercise. Exercising is nowadays seen as more or less a requirement for career advancement as you don’t want unhealthy employees.

          In Stockholm, so called “Mamils” – middle aged men in lycra – has been a big discussion topic. It is basically well doing middle aged men with expensive bikes that choose to commute dressed as professional bicyclist.

          • Nuno Rocha May 29, 2016, 1:54 am

            Hi Lina, i had a teacher that told me a story once, so that we could see the differences between southern Europe here, and Nothern Europe.
            She said that one of her students went in an exchage school program to Sweden and worked 6 months in a Volvo factory.
            He used car sharing with a sweden coleague and they used to be the first to arrive at the facilities, and used to park very far, and everyone did the same leaving the spots near tha factory empty, not the other way around.
            He asked why would you do that, when i’m used to park the nearest to the place i want to go, no far.
            And the Sweden coleague said:
            – “You never know when other coleague will be late, because he had to leave his child late at the nursery, or had a flat tire, so we leave the nearest places empty, for the ones who couldn’t make on time”.

        • Fluffy Tinkapoo April 23, 2013, 7:27 am

          I agree – it’s hard to look fabulous while wearing a helmet… but the alternative (brains splattered on the road) is definitely a bad look :). As biking becomes more popular, so will bicycle-inspired clothing. Consider yourself a trendsetter! Attitude is 90% of fashion anyway.

          When I ride my townie I can easily wear long skirts and heels. The biggest problem (other than psycho drivers) in my bike-friendly town is theft! My favorite dollar stores are in the dodgy areas. So after I park and lock the bike, I strip the bike of seat, lights and any other easily removable parts before shopping. PITA but necessary.

          • plam April 23, 2013, 5:32 pm

            I think that riding a $40 bike is also pretty Mustachian. I do ride a $70 bike in the summer though. (Actually it’s worth more than that; I picked it up at auction).

            I used to wear helmets all the time but I’m less convinced of their utility now. It’s sort of a different topic though.

        • ap April 23, 2013, 10:36 am

        • Chaz April 23, 2013, 10:50 am

          This may seem quite anti-Mustachian but outlier.cc sells high-end clothing for active people. I save over 70% of my take-home income and I have purchased a few of their things already.

      • Mr. 1500 April 22, 2013, 7:44 pm

        Thanks MMM for pointing out the positives. I tend to dwell on the negative sometimes. Time for me to reread the great post on optimism.

    • J April 22, 2013, 8:02 am

      I was just going to leave a similar comment about a neighbor of mine who always lets their brand new Suburban (a new one cost 1/3rd the price of the houses in my neighborhood) warm up in the morning to drive their teenage child to the neighborhood bus stop less than half a mile away.

      • cyclevillian April 22, 2013, 9:54 am

        same here. i ride my bike past a neighbor who does this every morning. for fun i just checked.. its 0.1 miles from their house to the bus stop, and they drive them in a SUV, wait for them to get on the bus, then drive home. i’m sure their excuse would be that its “cold”. i always wonder if anyone has told them about these amazing things called winter clothes.

        • Cheryl April 22, 2013, 8:28 pm

          I had a neighbour ask yesterday why the bus doesn’t stop outside our house to pick up my kid – we’re rural so there’s no traffic and it’s feasible, but the bus stop is only 300 meters from the front gate.

    • Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies April 22, 2013, 8:36 am

      Really? I’ve recently tried to start biking to work 1-day per week (it’s 9 miles each way), and so far my coworkers are super impressed. Then again, I’m the one in the office that is known as the healthy-living fitness junkie, so they’re attributing it more to that than the $3 or so in gas I’m saving.

      • Val April 22, 2013, 7:04 pm

        I only have about 3 miles to bike to work, always in the dark (starts at 5am) and many of my coworkers are both impressed and worried about me especially when it rains. Several of them have asked if I could use a ride. They really freak out when it rains. (I live near Portland, OR so rain is expected and am from somewhere rainier, also its been one of the least rainy winters ever). Rain and hail aren’t the biggest bother to me at all, that would be gravel trucks, which are out every afternoon along my route home.

    • Giddings Plaza FI April 25, 2013, 11:18 am

      I’ve also had people ask me if my driver’s license was revoked, or I got a DUI, after I donated my car. Funny, huh? Crazy prosperous country we live in when walking, biking, or bussing are so undervalued. Well, they can keep driving and paying for their cars, while I get more exercise and save much more towards being financially independent like the inimitable MMM>

  • CashRebel April 22, 2013, 6:53 am

    I do feel like an asshole any day I choose to drive to work. Typically I take public transit, and i just stare out at all the lost souls in their brand new bmws. What a waste! Thanks for a great earth day post!

  • My Financial Independence Journey April 22, 2013, 6:57 am

    Where I live, bikes are a bad idea and walking is also a bad idea. There are few sidewalks and fewer bike lanes. IMHO, even driving is a bad idea considering how many cars there are and how aggressive they are. I live reasonably close to where I work, which means that it takes me less time to drive there than other people. I could live closer, but then the rent would get higher than I’m willing to pay.

    If I could, I would live within walking distance of work. That has only happened once in my life.

    There was another city I lived in where the area around work was so dangerous only fools and thugs would walk or bike there. Anyone sane gets into their car, locks the doors, and tries to get home before dark. I’m so glad that I don’t live there anymore.

  • Minabelle April 22, 2013, 7:08 am

    I already was a convert before I found this site. My DH and I live within 4 km of work, preschool and own a 1999 VW golf and a Burley child trailer. Up until recently DD went to preschool every day in the trailer and our car use was minimal. Now though I am suffering from the severe psychic bruising which results from repeated face punches occurring due to excessive vehicle use due to recent pregnancy and now the arrival of a newborn. I have to wait a whole year until I can resume carrying the new addition in the trailer safely. Argh. Any suggestions for transport of small babies aside from just running with the stroller?

    • Sister X April 22, 2013, 12:10 pm

      If you hear any, let me know! This is going to be an issue for me soon enough.
      Actually, we’re sort of forced to buy a car in the next few weeks. One reason is for work (don’t punch me, MMM! the commute is 85 miles, one way, but it’s done in two-week increments) but the other is that we’re going to be having a kid in November. In Fairbanks. If next winter is anything like the past two have been, by the time Baby arrives on the scene it will be -40 already. Not exactly infant-friendly biking weather. :( Hopefully by the time biking season comes around again (sometime in April, or perhaps May if it’s like this never-ending winter) Baby will be able to hold up his/her head enough that we can figure out a bike solution.

    • Marcia April 22, 2013, 1:18 pm

      I never did find a way to carry babies besides the stroller or on my chest in a sling. I have a 9 month old. I’m giving myself a pass while the baby young. I prefer, in fact, to not have my children in bike trailers at all in this city. I use the stroller instead.

      I like to run, walk and bike. I live on a big hill…it really is not practical to do my grocery shopping by bicycle because of the steepness of the hill. I’d be walking the bike for 90% of the trip both ways. Before you face-punch me, I try to do most of the trips by pushing the baby in the stroller.

      I do shop at other stores besides the “big hill” one, but we do those when we are in the area. (Example: costco is near work so it’s a lunch time stop).

      I haven’t biked to work in about 1.5 years due to pregnancy and having a baby. I’d like to start up again, but it’s allergy season and my husband is completely unable to bike in April and May because of it. He’s miserable enough as it is. We can start up again in June.

      • sweetncrunchy April 25, 2013, 4:56 am

        We got a bakfiets (dutch cargo bike) when I was pregnant and unwilling to give up biking just because of the baby. I installed an infant carseat in the box, and away we went! Now we use it for school drop-off (our school is 7.5 km away,) grocery runs, visits to the grandparents, etc. It’s not cheap, but we figure it’s already paid for itself in gas and mileage savings alone, not to mention the health benefits. If you can swing it financially, it’s hands-down the best way to bike with babies and children.

    • Christof May 22, 2013, 4:40 pm


      I’m sure you can get a used one cheaper as most people sell theirs after only a few months.

  • Adam April 22, 2013, 7:31 am

    I’ve been pretty Mustachian my whole life (just naturally, I suppose) but have never ridden my bike to work. I have a hybrid bike that I enjoy riding recreationally in the summer, and have even ridden to my workplace, but only on the weekend and just as a destination to go to, turn around, and come back. That probably deserves a punch in the face for not convincing me to commute by bike daily. It’s only about 6 miles away, and there is a very nice bike path for about half of that distance.

    I just placed an order for fenders, lights, and a rear cargo rack so I can carry my lunch with me. Going to start biking as often as I can.

  • BNL April 22, 2013, 7:35 am

    I’ve found that the best way to reduce driving is by making it inconvenient. In other words, downsizing to a one-car household. Before we did that, I split my time between biking and driving to work, but the tiniest trickle of rain or forecast of a cold front had me strapping on my seatbelt.

    Even after I got rid of my car, I still used my motorcycle regularly to go anywhere over a few miles – usually because I convinced myself that I was in a hurry. Then, a few months ago, I left my key in the ignition and killed the battery. I chose not to charge it, figuring I could push start it in a bind. That was in January. And, amazingly, it turns out life continues without the second motorized vehicle. In fact, I’d say it has only gotten better.

  • Mr. Frugal Toque April 22, 2013, 7:45 am

    I feel like less of an asshole when I drive to work because there’s less traffic and I drive a small car. So while I am still destroying the planet, it’s less stressful because I’m doing it very smoothly with very little frustration.
    On the other hand, the 20 km trip will be bike-able at least twice a week this summer (those days when I’m not carpooling.)

    • Fastbodyblast April 23, 2013, 7:13 am

      Actually that’s a good point. Where does carpooling sit on the MMM “asshole meter”? My ride home from work doubles as my warm up for the home gym lifting session. Really I should do it every day and could with a bike trailer. Now that I have been called an asshole, I must look into that.

  • sassy April 22, 2013, 7:53 am

    Great post. For some reason, I have such a mental block on this one. My husband and I own 1 car, but we drive almost everywhere. We live in the suburbs of Chicago. Great bike paths, but the sidewalks and streets are not ideal, to get to various stores.

    Time seems to be my biggest barrier. We both work full time and we each have a side gig. Do people really save time biking?

    Humm, maybe I should at least try it, ok I will, this weekend. Perhaps my barriers are not that bad after all. I’ll report back on the experience.

    • John Danks April 22, 2013, 11:54 am

      Even if it takes longer to bike than drive (including parking and walking to your destination) you can subtract the time spent biking from your weekly exercise needs. If that isn’t enough, consider this: by biking (exercising) you’ll live longer and be happier during that time.

    • Marcia April 22, 2013, 1:21 pm

      I used to look at it like this:
      In order to drive to work, it’s about 30 minutes round trip.

      In order to bike to work, it’s about 45 minutes (I would only bike to work and drive home, my husband would drive to work and bike home, we work near enough each other to share the car).

      So option 1: drive to and from work (30 minutes). Go to the gym (15 minutes in the car) to get a 45 minute workout. Total time spent:1 hr 30 minutes for a 45 minute workout, and 45 min in the car.

      Option 2: bike to work (45 min) and drive home (15 min). Total time spent: 1 hour for 45 min workout (15 min in the car). Time saved: 30 min, all driving.

      • Jess April 22, 2013, 8:55 pm

        I also have a mental block. I’m really terrified of being on a bike – I don’t live in a bike-unfriendly area, but I just feel completely exposed and unsafe. I don’t trust my own bike-skills, nor do I trust drivers.

        I also have the convenience block…in my career professional look & dress is really important and I feel like I’d look like a drowned/sweaty/red-faced/fill-in-appropriate-term here every morning.

        That said, for my 10 ten months of articling starting in August I’ll be walking to work….but mainly because parking is too expensive!

        • Marcia April 24, 2013, 7:06 pm

          Walking is good too! When I lived in the DC area I walked to work the last couple of years. Wore my sneakers and switched to pumps when I got there.

        • Kate April 27, 2013, 5:34 pm

          Jess, I’m the same. I need to get on a bike and get past it, but I’m phobic. I can jump out of a plane and white water raft, but not ride a bike. And yes, I rode bikes as a kid.

    • LazyClown April 25, 2013, 11:18 am

      I live in Chicago suburbs as well and I am part of clown club. I own two bikes and rarely use them – I take car rides to work out at a club that is 3 miles away – pathetic, I know …
      I used to live in Myrtle Beach, SC and ride my bike to work in 90+ heat everyday. I always was on time and was in the best shape of my life.What happened to me?
      I do agree that the biggest issue is time – it takes less time to get there with car and it seems that there is never enough time – I am unfortunately not retired yet and don’t see that in a near future.
      Another issue is kids – I usually take little ones with me to sports club – taking them on a bike ride every time just does not seem possible.
      Safety is always a concern – drivers here are not bike friendly at all and when biking with kids I am mortified anytime car is passing us.
      These do look as a bunch pathetic excuses – I just need to get off my ass and put some effort into it.

  • Daniel April 22, 2013, 8:02 am

    Outstanding article! What I find most amazing is that they are actually re-routing intersections and rebuilidng entire roads in the ottawa-area to accomodate the long line of drive-thru services, mostly tim-hortons. Otherwise these cars will never be able to get back out of parking lots (possibly a good thing?). before this article I felt that perhaps I had gone crazy and the rest of the world who is purchasing SUV’s for their one child and driving thru to get their timmies was sane.

  • sonja April 22, 2013, 8:05 am

    I want to switch over to biking. I recently changed jobs to get rid of my 65 mile commute. I now only have 1 mile but it’s dam cold and rainy in iowa. there are no sidewalks of sholulders here eitther with heavy semi huge ass trucks blowing by. any tips?

    • meagain April 22, 2013, 12:13 pm

      Look up the journey on Google Maps. The routes they give for bikes will be different than for cars. One can’t think of biking in the same way as driving…there are probably better routes to get around and avoid all the trucks and traffic. Good luck!

      • Eldred January 17, 2014, 10:03 am

        Oh, DUH! I’ve been trying to figure out how to determine a good route for biking. I never used Google Maps that much, so I didn’t realize there was a way to show routes for different forms of transportation. Thanks!

  • Lee April 22, 2013, 8:17 am

    I went without a car for 6 years but since I’ve had one I’ve gotten lazy. Several years ago my husband and I went down to one car and he began commuting 11 miles each way to work year round (in Madison, WI) while I continued to bike to my much closer work place (my excuse is that I had to be at before 5 AM). It wasn’t until recently that I finally figured out just how much driving was costing me each month that I decided to get with program. I punched myself in the face and I’ve biked every day (except one) in this nasty weather month. I feel GREAT!!

  • BeatTheSeasons April 22, 2013, 8:20 am

    Loving this post. I’ve been cycling everywhere for years but family car use has crept up again since we had a baby last year, mainly due to lack of equipment and, I’ll admit it, ‘safety’ fears.

    Maybe next steppers like me need motivating with an article entitled “what the hell do you mean you don’t have a bike trailer”.


    • Jess April 22, 2013, 8:58 pm

      I don’t know….MMM might call me a complainypants for this, but I think a lot of the concerns over the safety of bike trailers are valid. I’m not saying they’re actually dangerous, but I wouldn’t want to put a baby in one.

      ***Having an ER nurse as a mother makes me nervous of things that other people might not think about!**

  • RubeRad April 22, 2013, 9:00 am

    Moved house this past Christmas, now I’m under 6mi from work, instead of 26. Biking every day and loving it (very little rain in San Diego). The second car has become almost completely unused, except for rare occasions when the wife & I have different (distant) things to go to. So I’ve been leaving the second car at work, near the top of the parking deck. If something ever comes up and I need to pick up the boys from school, I have the car at work. Otherwise, not having the car at home in the morning eliminates any temptation to be Mr. Wussypants and drive into work.

  • ultrarunner April 22, 2013, 9:07 am

    So what you’re saying is, I shouldn’t buy one of these “penis enhancers” to take the kids to school (0.75 mile one-way)? Darn…


  • @debtblag April 22, 2013, 9:09 am

    I do not have a car. That is how I feel about them.

  • Josh Zytkiewicz April 22, 2013, 9:24 am

    One of the most important requirements I had when purchasing my Condo was that it be within two miles of where I worked. It also has the added benefit that I’m within two miles of multiple grocery stores and other shopping needs, not to mention all the restaurants and entertainment options within walking distance.

    If you listen to Podcasts 99% Invisible has a very interesting segment on how the pro-automobile interests worked to change our culture in the early 20th century. http://99percentinvisible.org/post/47063460311/episode-76-the-modern-moloch

  • Jacob@CashCowCouple April 22, 2013, 9:38 am

    We’re already down to one car, but we’d like to leave it sitting.
    We move in a month, and I’ve got to get a bike. Either way, I’ll get free public transit, so I definitely won’t be driving. Hoping my wife can bike to work, but we’ll see. Almost zero car usage would be awesome.

    Sometimes I get enjoyment out of little daydreams after I read an MMM article. I sit and think about the reaction you would get from so many people I know. I want to sit them down and force them to read some of these. Talk about priceless…

    • DoubleDown April 22, 2013, 10:02 am

      I hope more and more people will adopt biking as a great alternative to driving. It’s going to be tough in a lot of our areas and culture, but it is improving. Sadly my biking excursions are fewer and farther between than I would like, although I can do it sometimes as circumstances allow. Frequent challenges for me are:

      1. Have several kids at different ages going to different schools, in addition to the commute to work in a completely different direction of course

      2. Work often requires travel between locations during the day

      3. Allergies make biking (or any other extended outdoor activity) a completely miserable experience for me during spring and fall. Even with allergy meds it takes hours to recover from the pollen

      4. Weather is often uncooperative here, which makes it all too tempting to wuss out and drive. Some cold or some heat is okay, but severe thunderstorms are not, and 95F temps + 95% humidity all summer long ensures you will arrive at work looking like you just emerged from the swimming pool no matter your conditioning, and need a while to shower, change and cool down.

      That’s the end of my complaining/excuses ;-)

      • crazyworld April 22, 2013, 10:38 am

        So, how exactly do you overcome these issues? Until I actually retire I do not have time to ride the bike to work & back. It is less than 15 minutes on an empty highway – maybe less. Biking would take forever, and then I would arrive with my hair, clothes and makeup needing to worked on. And in inclement weather? I used to take public transit to my work before we had a car – took 2 bus changes and an hour (more?) and on rainy days, I had wet clothes and frizzy hair. In the afternoon, I would be picking up my son late from school as well, since I would be biking back instead of driving. So what do I do with saved time? I cook almost all our meals from scratch, clean the house, yard work etc.

        Grocery store bike-able from my house has a horrible selection of fresh produce, so I never go there.

        Pick up/drop off of my child to school is not an issue anymore – we are walking distance from his school. But I do not judge people driving to school for drop-offs. They may be further away (we have no district busing) and a car is faster than walking or biking when kids must be on time to school.

        In the end, its really about time. And our cars are old, reliable & paid off for 9 years. Selling them will not help us retire right now. The exercise would be good, but how to solve the rest?

        • KulshanGirl April 22, 2013, 11:08 am

          This is a lot like me. I live within a couple of miles from everything, but do the daycare/work commute by car because of time. I’m a single mom who works full time, and I actually also drive home for lunch and back. That hour is SO important to me for chores, dinner prep, gardening, etc. I know it sounds complainypantsy, but I couldn’t do without it.

          I’ve tried to skip driving home for lunch to save gas and not be such a clown, but the results included spending my lunch hour fretting about how much I could be getting done, staying up much later to GET it done, cannibalizing playtime, using the dryer more often, garden neglect, and overall resorting to convenience in other areas no matter how much effort I put in. That hour at home mid-day is key to pretty much every other mustachian effort I’m making.

          I agree with the whole blog post here. I’d love to never drive and I do feel like a clown. But for me, right now, I get more useful hours than I spend for it. Getting out of the car makes the hamster wheel spin faster. :( Sling the what-ifs all day, but I’ve been in every nook and cranny of how to engineer a bikey life, it just doesn’t work without impacts in other important areas that I’m not willing to sacrifice. (quality time with my daughter, sleep, healthy meals, a house that’s not a sty) When I can go to part time, I will be a biking superbiker from bikeville.

          • Marcia April 22, 2013, 1:27 pm

            Do you only live 2 miles from work? Because you could keep a bike at work and just do your trip home for lunch by bike.

            • KulshanGirl April 22, 2013, 2:53 pm

              I have thought of that, but my work is at the top of a hill that I would have to walk up with the bike, (medical issue) or park a 7-8 minute walk at the covered parking garage at the bottom of the hill. When you count that in, I’m burning up quite a lot of my useful hour. I’d get home and have to turn around and head back after around 15 minutes. I’ve really been through every combination of which parts I could bike, walk and bus combo, bike and bus combo, just walk … in all cases I would lose my useful lunch hour, have to stay up later at night doing chores, have to get up about 45 minutes earlier to make the commute without the car, and pick up my daughter around 20 minutes later than usual at her daycare. It’s just not a workable thing for me right now. I know it’s good free excercise but that is not even on my radar. We walk all of our weekend errands and I now have a bike and ride-behind for fun plans after school and weekends. I’m okay with that. Maybe I can shake things up when she hits grade school.

            • bogart April 22, 2013, 8:50 pm

              Count me among those who consider some kid-free time at home priceless so, yeah, you are not alone (conceptually if not literally — my circumstances are different).

              And, yeah, kids change fast, as do their circumstances. What’s not workable now may become so, as time goes by (just as the reverse is true, of course).

      • Marcia April 22, 2013, 1:26 pm

        We have similar issues.

        We now have 2 kids at 2 different locations. We haven’t overcome this one yet, but the plan in the summer will be to start biking again. Husband and I work near each other, so I will bike to work in the morning 2x a week, and he will drop off the kids. I will drive home and pick up the kids, and he will bike home.

        In the past I’ve had a job which requires travel between locations, and I biked it. There were times when I would bike 24 miles round trip to work and another 6 miles during the day between locations. I was in pretty good shape then.

        My husband has allergies so bad that we pretty much have to shelve biking during April and May anyway. He takes a prescription med AND claritin on top of that.

  • Chris C. April 22, 2013, 9:45 am

    Perfectly timed article! As I was being the non-asshole, the anti-clown I was struck broadside by a enourmouse 7 seater minivan carrying…ONE ASSSOLE (aka: person). She was just leaving the store after filling up the car with $50+ dollars in gas, and purchasing coffee and some carb-laden empty calorie trash for 100x the cost it would take to make a powerhouse omlet and delicious French Press coffee. She accused me of “flying out of nowhere” (I thought I was peacefully cruising at 18mph, who knew!) an then dismissed me as ‘in the way’. This all changed when she realized that I choose to commute by bike was wearing business professional clothing and she started inquiring about my condition, probably to avoid mustachian punches in the face.

    TL;DR: Less clown cars and less clowns and my commute would have been uneventful, oh what a bore!

  • Joanna April 22, 2013, 9:47 am

    I love the sentiment MMM, but the practicalities are just not there for most cities in the US. Sure, when we lived in NYC we walked and biked everywhere. If I did that in my current city, I’d be putting my life at risk. Some people in our area do bike, and it’s really dangerous. And this is coming from someone who has been hit by a car while on a bike, so I’ll gladly be one of your so-called clowns when my safety is at risk.

    We’d love to get to a point where we’re in a city where biking’s more feasible, but it ain’t happening right now.

    • anonymouse April 23, 2013, 3:11 am

      The thing is, driving is also really dangerous. Leading cause of death of people your age, in fact, and pretty much from early childhood until heart disease and such catch up with people in middle age. The real question to ask is whether it’s really unsafe, or whether it just feels unsafe, and conversely whether driving really is safe, or just feels safe because you’re in an insulated cocoon that feels like you’re hardly moving at all, until you go flying off the road at 70 mph. I’m curious about what the actual safety statistics are like in your area, for both driving and cycling.

    • Christine April 23, 2013, 11:14 am

      I think that in order to make biking more common, accepted, and normal in your city, you need to ride your bike (even occasionally, or just for a short trip). Drivers won’t become aware of bicyclists if they only see one or two a day. Bike lanes will never be considered if no one needs them. Somebody has to lead by example.

  • Joshua Spodek April 22, 2013, 9:57 am

    Speaking of the non-necessity of moving huge blocks of metal and moving around healthily instead, I’m curious on your thoughts on elevators and escalators.

    I tend to avoid them. I got great free exercise when I worked a day a week in a 19th floor office. I take the stairs about 75% to and from my fifth floor apartment.

    Still, a lot of buildings make it difficult to take stairs by locking access. Also, since they have counterweights, you aren’t lifting the elevator so much as overcoming friction, but you are moving people who could walk instead.

  • Patrick April 22, 2013, 9:59 am

    This is your best post. Right now, I’m standing up and initiating the slow clap.

    This is the first time I’ve ever really had a “commute,” and it is absolutely destroying me. As a direct result, we’re moving — and we are going from a two-car family to a no-car family in exactly 8 days.

    I wish people would compute the TOTAL COST of lifestyle decisions then prepare to be amazed to discover that their “cheaper” housing comes at a tremendous (often unaccounted for) cost in other places. Often, these are the hidden costs that make people wonder where that extra $1000/month expense is coming from every month.

    I drive a 2003 Honda Hybrid that gets about 50 mpg. I bought it used for $6000, and it runs perfectly. It’s still expensive as hell when I add maintenance, tires, insurance, etc. I even count the $230 speeding ticket I got last month. My driving commute is both foreign and ridiculous that I’m uncomfortable even talking about it with people. It’s so modern-America/anti-American that it makes me sick, and I can’t do it anymore without some serious meds and/or counseling. Add that to the bill.

    Moving closer to our food source has the added benefit of opportunity to make more side money. Already, my wife has generated a long list of leads that look likely to dump a pile of money on us that cannot exist living in the sticks and driving around like assholes. I can safely say that life could not exist status quo in my neck of the woods without a ton of petroleum, and I do not believe this is sustainable. The future includes most people cutting way back, so better to get out front.

    I will be selling my car the day after I move. Honestly, I hope to never have another one. I would rather spend my money living.

    • Ann Schutt April 23, 2013, 6:36 pm

      Joining slow clap. First post to do so.

  • Robert Coffin April 22, 2013, 10:29 am

    I completely agree with this post and I recently moved from 25 miles to 10 miles from work. Unfortunately I purchased a brand new shiny Chevrolet Volt to get off the proverbial Gasoline Teet. Here is the bad news, at 25 or 10 miles I never use gas, however, when I start riding my bike in about a month my Volt will basically be a $700 a month brick sitting in my garage. I went online last night to see if I could sell it and hoping that I’m not too far upside down. This sadly is not the case, I am about 13K in the hole and I don’t see how I could sell the car and take on that much debt. Obviously the best thing to do is bite the bullet and take the 13K hit to my finances since it will only cost me more money in the long run if I keep the car. I guess I’m hoping that there might be someone out there with an idea that might help me figure out the best course of action. I recently started reading ERE in additon to MMM and I cancelled my Cell Phone and I’m trying to reduce my costs so that I can retire by 40-45 (I’m currently 34).

  • retirebyforty April 22, 2013, 10:37 am

    We only fill up once a month or so and walk/take public transportation most of the time. We could get rid of the car, but it’s so convenient when we want to take a trip somewhere.
    You can’t push everyone to bike though. There are reasons why some people can’t bike.

  • Kyle April 22, 2013, 10:40 am

    It always annoys the crap out of me when I see people where I live get in the car to drive TO PICK UP THE MAIL. It’s like 200 feet away, at most. Also annoying: when people spend 15 minutes driving around trying to find the absolute closest parking space AT THE GYM. Just consider it part of your warm-up, people.

  • Andy in Boston April 22, 2013, 11:02 am


    I live in Boston, and ride/walk to work 4 out of the 5 days per week. I usually take Fridays off and take the train into work. When I arrive in the morning, my hot black coffee tastes that much better, and I feel more awake. On top of that, I also get to stop and take pictures of/ feed the various animals on my route to work. I’ve seen geese, ducks, deer, seagulls, A SEAGULL SPEARING A FISH WITH IT’S BEAK!!, etc. My legs look fantastic, and when we go to parties, I get to show off my freakish calves to other guests. I feel bad when I take a leisurely ride home and see a bunch of people stuck on the highway. Get some!

  • Edward April 22, 2013, 11:14 am

    I live on the 5th floor directly across from a giant fitness club. I kid you not the following happened. About 5 months ago I was roused from my sofa by angry shouting coming from the window. I looked down into the fitness club parking lot and there were two drivers fighting over a spot closest to the front doors. One had actually exited his vehicle and was yelling at the other. Couldn’t help myself, and yelled down, “Shut up, you idiots!” Reply came from one, “What?” I answered, “It’s a fitness club, don’t you see the irony?” Looks of confusion from both of them, and again one yells, “What?” Me: “Nevermind, carry on….”

    Seriously, world?

  • Jacob @ iHeartBudgets April 22, 2013, 11:24 am

    I live in a VERY bike-friendly town. So help clue me in on what it takes to make it happen. I’m assuming a $500 bike, helmet, and some biking garb (so I don’t get sore or cold), anything else? I live about 20 miles from work, but I believe there’s a trail that can take me straight there.

    My biggest reservation is the wasted time. I don’t know how quickly bicycles can get me places, but at 20 miles each way, how long should it take to get to work? if an hour or less, I’ll definitely consider it, as my current carpool commute is 35 minutes.

    Thanks MMM!

    • Lina April 22, 2013, 12:00 pm

      You will also need some equipment so you can fix any flats. If you need to transport computers or clothes to your workplace also need some kind of bag for your bike. I would also consider biking shoes (although it is not necessary) to allow more effective biking.

      If you have not biked before I would say it takes a little bit more than an hour but with some practice you can get under an hour if you don’t need to make a lot of stops on the trail due to traffic.

      For an hour more per day you would get much exercise. I would probably start by biking two or three days a week so my body could adapt to the exercise and increase after a while.

      • Jacob @ iheartbudgets April 24, 2013, 10:51 pm

        Thanks for the tips! The exercise would be nice, but I think at this point in time, and hour more with my fam. is more important. Not that I won’t bike to work in the future. But with 2.5 jobs and just finishing tax season, plus my kid goes to sleep at like 7:30, I’d rather be home than biking.

    • Marcia April 22, 2013, 1:30 pm

      I’m slow and it takes me 45 min to go 10 miles.

      You could alternate days though. Drive to work with your bike. Bike home the 20 miles and leave the car at work. Bike back in the next morning, drive home.

      • Jacob @ iheartbudgets April 24, 2013, 10:53 pm

        That’s a more reasonable schedule for me, I like that. Though, like I said above, might not happen. Thanks for the suggestions and motivation :)

  • Michael Wakeman April 22, 2013, 11:32 am

    Spoken like a true Canadian. Real Americans LOVE to drive. And that doesn’t make us assholes.

    I love driving my VW Jetta TDI all through the mountains of western NC where I live. Its an especially beautiful day here today so I might just leave work a little earlier and take a nice 2 hour drive home. This always makes me feel happy and is well worth an extra 5 or 10 years in the work force if you ask me.

    • Jimbo April 23, 2013, 7:48 am

      Leisurely drives are also popular amongst Canadians, sadly. Although, it does not make you any more ‘real’ than anyone else. Just someone with ridiculous hobbies.

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 23, 2013, 2:53 pm

      I love Michael’s comment – is it brilliant dry sarcasm making fun of car clowns, or actual cluelessness?

      I am suspicious he might be pulling my leg, because he says he’d be willing to work “an extra 5 or 10 years” for the privilege of driving a Jetta through the mountains.

      You are aware that my entire working career was less than 10 years, and even so, now I could afford to drive a Ferarri through the mountains while paying someone to follow behind in a Tesla just so they could hold the video camera? And that anyone with similar income who follows the principles of a blog like this could achieve the same thing?

      The thing is, I’m suggesting that once you learn about alternatives to expensive, motorized conveniences, you might prefer the more difficult things, even when you can afford the easy ones.

      • Michael Wakeman April 30, 2013, 9:31 am

        Ok, I’m starting to understand what you’re saying now. Especially after reading your next blog post. A lifestyle with less spending will actually make us more happy.

        My original comment wasn’t sarcasm, but it was a little thick headed. Thanks for the response.

        Maybe I’m still in the process of ditching the consumer lifestyle.

  • Pretired Nick April 22, 2013, 12:02 pm

    Hey MMM,
    Have you read The Geography of Nowhere? One of his key points is how 50 years of automobile-oriented development has left us victims to this abominable lifestyle. His writing style is very similar to yours, but with more swearing! Would make a great book review!

  • Johnny Aloha April 22, 2013, 12:16 pm

    Great post! That school scene looks familiar …

    Even though we have Terrible Roads in our not-so-bike-friendly area, some friends and I are resuming our bike commute to work. The safest route is ~23 miles one way with a 1000ft climb in the middle. It normally takes 1.5-2.5 hours, depending if we stop to jump in some waterfalls on the way home. Love it!

    • Mrs. Money Mustache April 22, 2013, 12:29 pm

      Haha! As it should. That scene was pretty shocking to me.

      Now, that commute sounds spectacular, Mr. Aloha (and maybe others will take your lead and stop complaining!). Anything can be accomplished, if you have the inclination and the right attitude.

    • Jexy April 22, 2013, 4:43 pm

      Johnny, where are you biking to? Do you take the Pali? I would LOVE to bike to work every day, but I live in Kailua and work on the leeward side off the Moanalua… I don’t even know if it’s possible to get to work without getting on a no-bicyles-allowed highway. My husband works on base on the windward side, and since we get free housing, it definitely doesn’t make sense to move closer to my job, and with the government hiring freeze in place, there have been no job openings on our base. What kind of suggestions do you have for for commuting over the mountains?

      • Johnny Aloha April 22, 2013, 10:31 pm

        Aloha Jexy, just responded to your PM.

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 22, 2013, 11:07 pm

      Right on Johnny Aloha!! That will be a great example to set in Hawaii – you just know many of the drivers will be watching and wishing they could join you , and over time, THEY WILL!

      If you can swing it, please bring a camera on one of your commutes and take some action/glory pictures for all of us to see.

      You can see plenty of semi-complainypants comments in this thread about unsafe roads. While some may be true, others may well be unnecessarily fearful. We have already solved several of these puzzles in past article comment sections.

      One of my challenges this year will be to look at the unbikeable commutes of other people, and then figure out how they can be biked easily. Yours is obviously extreme, but many people are less than 5 miles from work and still discounting the possibility.

      • Johnny Aloha April 23, 2013, 5:06 pm

        Sounds good, we’ll get some pics and video. I’m very tempted to ride bikes on the easy, convenient route (H3). This would drastically cut biking time, but I haven’t worked up the courage or legal resources to bike on the highway shoulder yet! So for now, the path will go FAR out of the way …

        • Mr. Money Mustache April 23, 2013, 9:38 pm

          Nice.. if you do ride the H3, we can give it national coverage here on MMM. It could make a nice story, since a road like that really should allow bikes (Many of Colorado’s 65MPH roads allow bikes due to a policy change the cyclists fought for back in the day).

  • Jessie April 22, 2013, 12:20 pm

    Repeating what’s been said by others, but unfortunately safety is still a major concern. I’m a cyclist and am comfortable with sharing roads with cars, when it’s safe. I just bought a house 3 miles from work (shortening my commute from 30 to 3 miles FTW!). However, believe it or not, there is no safe bike route from home to work. I even looked to expand the commute up to 15-20 miles but there’s no way to avoid the unbikeable roads. Cars are king.

    We need a major culture attitude shift, so keep on fighting the good fight MMM. Until then I’ll just have to feel like an asshat every time I drive my car the 3 miles to work. (I do plan on walking it sometimes, FYI. Biking would just be so preferable if it were safe!)

    • Jessie April 22, 2013, 12:25 pm

      Oh and funny story — my husband is a teacher and currently bike commutes to school. The other day he overheard some of his elementary school aged children saying they felt sorry for him because he doesn’t own a car.

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 22, 2013, 11:09 pm

      Is this really possible that a 3-mile stretch would have no bikeable roads? Can you send us rough Google Maps start/end points so we can check it out?

      • Jessie April 23, 2013, 8:38 am


        There you go….starting address altered slightly since this is the internet, after all. North Rolling Road looks bikeable, but just take my word for it that it’s not (2 lanes each way that aren’t even clearly marked for most of the trip so taking the lane would be extremely tricky). I thought about circling west of the park, but traffic is heavy on Johnnycake at rush hour and while I could take the whole lane, there’s a half mile climb that would slow me to about 7 mph with a line of cars behind unable to pass because of the twisty roads…I just don’t have the stomach for enraging drivers like that.

        Believe me, if you can figure this out, you will make my year!

        • Adam April 23, 2013, 10:30 am

          What about this? http://goo.gl/maps/8y7D3 It’s not as direct, but the dotted green line indicates a sidewalk or bike lane most of the way.

          • Jessie April 23, 2013, 12:22 pm

            This is trafficky but possibily doable. I will look into it further, thanks!

        • Wes April 23, 2013, 10:54 am

          Jessie, it looks like the N Rolling Rd has a pretty generous sidewalk. You can ride the street when it’s single lane and take the sidewalk when it turns to double lanes.

          You might have to check the local ordinances to check it’s legality. Some municipalities allow it and others do not. You can always just go for it!

          • Jessie April 23, 2013, 12:25 pm

            Sidewalks are typically more dangerous than roads so I try to avoid riding on them. Good news though, I did some googling and it looks like there is a proposal to put bike lanes on N. Rolling. Go bike infrastructure!!

            • Rob aka Captain and Mrs Slow April 27, 2013, 3:13 pm

              How the heck can a sidewalk be more dangerous than a road?

  • Tara April 22, 2013, 12:43 pm

    Like a previous poster, I purposely chose my housing location on the basis of accessibility to public transportation and needed services within walking distance. I no longer own a car and hope to never own one again. They suck so much money and resources, not to mention the agony of sitting for hours in traffic.

  • Rich Davis April 22, 2013, 1:08 pm

    How timely, I just took advantage of nashbar.com 20% sale (today until 10 pm eastern) to order my new road bike, helmet and light set. I’m hoping to work up to biking all or some of my 15 mile commute to the 5 sided wind tunnel.

  • Matt April 22, 2013, 1:25 pm

    First time reader here. I fully agree with the sentiments of being an asshole every time I start a car. Unfortunately I am unable to move closer to work and have a 12 mile commute with a +-1000 ft elevation gain/loss in between, and no shower facilities at work to clean up. While I would like to ride a bicycle to work, it simply isn’t practically feasible due to the lack of shower & changing facilities in our office building. Public transportation in San Diego County is problematic at best if you’re not living inside the city close to the trolley line. Using the nearest public transportation, my commute would take 2 hours each way. I have however ditched the gas guzzling SUV, and switched to a motorcycle. My mpg has gone from 16 / 17 mpg in the gas guzzler, to 40 / 45 mpg on a motorcycle. A side benefit is that lane-sharing is legal in CA, so I don’t spend time sitting in rush-hour traffic with the engine idling. I’m glad to have found your blog, and will use the advice here to change the way we look at money, and our outlook.

    • Zack October 19, 2016, 1:55 pm

      I commute every day 11 Colorado mountain miles that end in a 1000′ climb over the last 3 miles. Will you be drenched in sweat doing that in San Diego? Yes. Carry a change of clothes and a towel in your backpack. Deodorant too. You’ll live, trust me.

  • Art April 22, 2013, 1:27 pm

    I sent this article to my wife and she said you would probably have a meltdown if you saw what was happening on our street during the school bus drop-offs around 3PM. We live on a cul-de-sac street that takes about 4 minutes to walk at a leisurely pace from the dead end to the intersection with another street, which is where the bus stops to drop off the kids after school. I am not kidding, there are usually a couple of huge SUV-Tahoe-Sububran things that park next to the intersection to pick up their kids and DRIVE THEM TO THE END OF THE CUL-DE-SAC!!! They sit there idling their engines with windows rolled up with AC on in anything over 70 F and heat on in anything below that. I wish this was a joke but I witnessed this myself several times. Oh and by the way, the actual school is 1 mile away to begin with.

    On an unrelated note my wife is asking, MMM what kind of laundry detergent do you use?

  • SHP April 22, 2013, 1:28 pm

    Well, currently I commute quite a bit due to a paid off house and super low property taxes.

    At the moment, driving seems cheaper than selling the house, trying to find a replacement house suitable for 6 close enough to work, increase in utitlity, property taxes, etc. etc….

    Still trying to find a job close to home but since live in rural America it is difficult to find a job that isn’t at least 30 minutes away by car…..

  • Marcia April 22, 2013, 1:33 pm

    I do worry about safety too. I live in a pretty bikeable city (Santa Barbara), but there are still crazy people in SUVs who are very aggressive drivers. We still do it, but I worry, and during rush hour, I have asked my hubby to take the long way home (bike path). He usually doesn’t listen to me.

    However, I grew up in a rural area with 2 lane roads, no shoulder, and a speed limit of 55. It just wouldn’t be practical to ride there. I assume there are other cities and areas where you could assume the same.

    • Tim April 22, 2013, 4:43 pm

      I feel like a cat with the number of close calls I’ve had. A lot of drivers just don’t pay attention at all, especially around De La Vina and Figueroa…

      • Marcia April 24, 2013, 7:15 pm

        Yeah, De La Vina is a tough one because it’s a “thoroughfare” sort of. Even though it’s one-way there is no bike lane. I have a friend who used to live on De La Vina and he’d get mad that people would bike on it when there were perfectly good bike lanes on State Street.

        We bike to Goleta via Modoc and Hollister. In the early morning, it’s not too bad, but in the dark on the way home…yikes!

  • Bryallen April 22, 2013, 1:43 pm

    Love this post! Since we ditched our car, I feel a smug satisfaction walking faster than the people in traffic jams who are crawling along! I’ve taken to walking more, despite having a paid-for bus pass, because I CAN use that extra fitness!

    To be fair, there are extremely rural places where you need a car, but if you live and work in the same city, ditch it!

  • Lauren April 22, 2013, 1:53 pm

    I wish I could bike more! I actually live in a city full of miles and miles of bike trails, and they’re building more as we speak. (They began turning old, unused railroad tracks into bike trails about a decade ago.) Very cool, and very useful.

    My (very dear) problem is my small kids. Can’t leave them at home, can’t get up the hill to my house with them in the trailer. Granted, the only places I really go with them via car is the grocery store (12 miles away, bike-friendly, but has 10% grade hills I dread climbing even without a bike trailer in tow) and my parents’ house (would never bike there– not even a shoulder on the road, 60mph), so I guess I don’t really drive that much. /end complaining

    We’re currently shopping for a new house, and nearness to the trails is definitely a consideration.

    • Naners April 23, 2013, 11:07 am

      How about an electric bike to help out on the uphill stretches?

  • Savvy Financial Latina April 22, 2013, 2:10 pm

    I’m probably guilty of a couple of things here, but we used to only be a one car couple, and it just didn’t work out well. Usually, I got stuck waiting a lot.
    Dallas, Texas is not biker or weather friendly to bike everywhere. I would love to move someday to a town where i wouldn’t have to drive very much.

  • Simply Rich Life April 22, 2013, 2:29 pm

    There is one benefit to the clown system: it’s set up so that when they go out and spend their money on expensive vehicles, gas, and repairs, a part of it transferred to wise Mustachians. And the clowns always go right for the options that transfer the most money to us.

    As they rush around making themselves sick physically and mentally and looking down on the bikers they pass, they aren’t even aware that they are doing all of that in order to pay us to live healthy and enjoyable lives, and they are in fact helping us to take control.

    Over time they severely limit their options and resources by doing this while ours continue to increase. Who needs to seize power when you can just sit back and let it come to you?

  • Joe (yolfer) April 22, 2013, 2:38 pm

    Great Earth Day post!

    Maybe all these Clown Car Drivers should put one of those plastic office chair rolly mats on their car seats, upside down, so they have to sit on the little plastic spikes while they drive.

    Then driving will be as painful for their asses as it is for their wallets, their health, and the environment.

  • JapeneseSportscar April 22, 2013, 2:47 pm

    I like to drive at high speed on mountain roads. Biggest problem is the recreational cyclist/ roadies who ride two or more abreast struggling along on steep and narrow sections. Some roads are unsuitable for pedestrians and cyclists people, the bike belongs in the city.

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 22, 2013, 3:33 pm

      If you can’t beat ’em, you might try joining ’em instead, Mr. Sportscar. It’s a both more fun, and more Badass to get around on those mountain roads with a big set of well-muscled legs than sitting in your recliner and pressing the pedals. And I say this as the former owner of both Japanese sportscar AND a Japanese crotch rocket motorcycle, who currently lives in the Rockies.

      • Lucas April 23, 2013, 3:43 pm

        So, what was the Japanese Sportscar? A Miata?
        That’s my guess for the frugal man.

    • Marcia April 24, 2013, 7:16 pm

      See, I have many friends who bike the mountain roads around here because it’s fun and a great workout. And, well, if you want to do more than 50 miles, you can’t do it without going over a big mountain.

      Share the road.

      • Emmers April 28, 2013, 10:47 am

        This guy was clearly just trolling, don’t even worry about him. :-D

    • Ben Alexander June 10, 2013, 11:18 am

      I like to ride at high speeds up and down country roads. The biggest problems is the clown car operators who either sit behind me revving the engine because their visibility is too poor from the inside of their cages to see oncoming traffic or pass unsafely (for the same reason). Then they go super slowly down the other side, struggling on the windy/narrow sections because their clown car is too big! Some roads are just unsuitable for motorists. People, the car belongs in the junkyard.


Leave a Reply

To keep things non-promotional, please use a real name or nickname
(not Blogger @ My Blog Name)

The most useful comments are those written with the goal of learning from or helping out other readers – after reading the whole article and all the earlier comments. Complaints and insults generally won’t make the cut here, but by all means write them on your own blog!


welcome new readers

Take a look around. If you think you are hardcore enough to handle Maximum Mustache, feel free to start at the first article and read your way up to the present using the links at the bottom of each article.

For more casual sampling, have a look at this complete list of all posts since the beginning of time or download the mobile app. Go ahead and click on any titles that intrigue you, and I hope to see you around here more often.

Love, Mr. Money Mustache

latest tweets