473 comments

Houston Attorney Thrives on Doing The Impossible – Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Mr. Money Mustache,

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

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

The Challenge:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Route: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Speed: 

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

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

The Cars (and other Financial Effects):

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

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

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

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

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

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

But What if I Move Jobs?

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

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

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

But What About the Heat?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related Reading on the magic of a Cooperative Spouse:

Is Mr. Money Mustache Ruining Your Marriage – Part 2


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

Epilogue

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

 

  • DMoney June 8, 2017, 1:51 pm

    Another great article, but the paces you quote have really not been my experience. If I’m lucky, I can average 15 mph on a bike-to-work commute. Normally it’s a bit slower. I’m a very fit 30-something woman who used to get on the podium in triathlons (before kids). When I placed in the Honolulu triathlon in my category – many years ago – my average pace was 21 mph. This was on a completely FLAT course that was closed to traffic with police support. Maybe if you have a straight shot from point A to B – with no curves, hills, traffic lights, stop signs, runners on the trail, etc you could average 20 mph – but that is NOT realistic for most urban areas. Or most cyclists.

    I’m in DC and have a mind numbing 32 mile commute – one way. I’ve done it by bike a few times. Takes me almost 2.5 hours hauling ASS on my all-carbon frame road bike. An electric bike shaves a few minutes, but not much. It isn’t my fitness level that slows me down, it’s the curves on the bike trail with limited visibility beyond and runners and stop signs, etc. And electric bikes don’t really help much with that. Wish I had 5 hours to spend biking daily, but sadly I don’t.

    Agree with all the sweat stuff. I routinely exercise at lunch during the work day. Baby wipes, fresh underwear, some deodorant and I put back on my office attire.

    Reply
    • Jackie Christianson June 8, 2017, 7:07 pm

      I agree that the time estimates are likely unrealistic if you’re riding in part on the streets. My bike commute used to be about 60/40 between bike paths and roads. The times in the post are perfectly realistic if you’re on a bike path without any stops, but not if you have to share the road or cross roads with traffic. The stop-and-go really kills your MPH in the same way it kills MPG on a car.

      That said, I’ve found that I can pretty easily keep pace with most of the cars when I do bike alongside cars on the roads. They can’t accelerate to much faster than 15-20 MPH on average either.

      Reply
      • DMoney June 9, 2017, 12:11 pm

        It’s really a toss up between which is faster around here. Roads have stop lights and stop signs. But all the trails are mixed use – including runners, strollers, slower cyclists, kids on bike, etc. And over the course of several miles, the trails cross roads requiring stops. When given the choice, I normally go for the trails because they seem safer. Sometimes I’ll even take trails when it takes longer just to avoid the risk and have a more pleasant ride away from the gas-guzzlers.

        About 10 years ago my commute was shorter, only 6 miles each direction, and I was routinely biking. Got hit head-on and broke someone’s windshield with my face. Ended up in the ICU with neck and back broken, broke off front teeth, facial lacerations requiring the handy work of a plastic surgeon, a small pneumothorax and some severe bruising. Luckily I also had a traumatic brain injury with both anterograde and retrograde amnesia so I don’t really remember getting hit. LOL Ergo, I still get on a bike in traffic routinely. Can’t fix stupid, I guess…

        Reply
  • Meow June 8, 2017, 1:55 pm

    I used to be intimidated by the biking thing, but I found that having the right bike helps a lot. I don’t mean spending lots of money on a bike- I got my current one from the Recycle-A-Bicycle charity shop. I mean choosing a frame and model you’re comfortable and feel safe on.
    I used to date a hardcore cycle-fanatic who insisted that a fancy road bike was right for me. I found the thing terrifying: hunched over was an awful position and I felt like I couldn’t see the road without putting a crink in my neck. I switched to a more upright position on a hybrid with gears, and I’m so much comfier! Plus, with the gears evening out exertion on the hills, I went from thinking I was too out-of-shape to bike, to going on 20 mile pleasure rides around the very hilly Bronx! It was amazing for my budget AND my self-esteem.

    Reply
  • Mike Keel June 8, 2017, 1:56 pm

    Loved the article. I was a student at HBU in the mid seventies. Commuted to work at the University Club at the Galleria by bicycle, back to HBU for classes, to work in the evening at Bellaire & Gessner and back to the dorm again. Did that year round for 2 years. It worked so well that I commuted by bike in the Dallas area from 1983 to 1999, including 7 years as a single parent. Bicycle commuting works when you want it to work and when you make it work. At one point, my commute was 18 miles one way/I purchased a health club membership in the building next door, plus renting a basement closet to store my bike and clothing, paid a co-worker to take clothes to the cleaners etc. Again – it WORKS when you want it to – just like eating right and exercising and other things in life.

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

    This article gave me that hot-excited feeling in my chest because my wife and I are moving to a new home in October only 1.5 miles from work! We both can’t wait to bike to work more and may even upgrade to some DIY e-bikes to curb any temptation to use our car. The best part? We are moving to a place that gets 310 sunny days a year!

    Reply
  • Brandi June 8, 2017, 2:20 pm

    I love the blog and have been hoping for a post about biking in Houston but just a bunch of random thoughts/questions from another person who lives in central Houston:

    If the area he lives in is the one shown on the route maps, houses in that neighborhood are definitely NOT in the 300’s. That is The Heights and it is by far one of the most expensive areas of Houston outside of River Oaks. They are far and away about $700k to over $1 million for just a simple bungalow with a small yard. Check out that area on HAR.com for a 2-3 bedroom house. Do a map search, zoom in near that intersection and set the parameters to a max of $400k and you’ll come up with about 2 results (which are already under contract). If he bought his house 10 years ago, this was probably true but now, not so much.

    This is also something that is easier for a man who doesn’t have to worry about not only being in a suit but also having hair and make-up be presentable in front of clients (without a shower at the destination) not to mention the frequent and unexpected flash flooding. I live in Houston and I am about 1.25 miles walking distance from my office and about 1.5 driving. I have walked, biked and skated to work and around town on some of our many bikes trails but still worry about severe weather that can come in unexpectedly and have only done it on days with zero chance of rain. I also wonder how he gets his clothes to the office to begin with if he keeps them in his office and how he totes them home. I can imagine putting them in a backpack but does he just dryclean everything everytime he wears it and how does it not get super wrinkled on the way in? These are logistical questions I’ve often wondered about now that I don’t have access to a shower at the office.

    Some people mentioned e-bikes but motorized vehicles of any kind are not allowed on our trails.

    Reply
    • Jennifer July 5, 2017, 12:33 pm

      These are the points I had as well! As a fellow Houstonian who would love to bike to work, I was pumped to read this article until I saw that the something was not adding up. I live 14 miles from my job one way, and Google said it would take close to 2 hours to get to work biking as opposed to 1 hour driving. I inherited my grandmother’s house, so its no need for me to move closer since the house is paid for. I also don’t mind showering when I come to work, but hair and make up would be an issue along with clothes storage. However, where there is a will there is a way……

      Reply
      • Mr. Money Mustache July 5, 2017, 7:05 pm

        Hi Jennifer – I have some good news on the biking portion: Google Maps assumes that you bike at almost walking speed. In real life, you can easily cover 14 miles in less than 1 hour. Closer to 40 minutes if you use an electric bike.

        Reply
        • Haley July 6, 2017, 11:22 am

          I’ve been biking to work in Austin for a year. It’s 5 miles, and I’ve reached the max speed I can achieve on my commuter bike. In my case the Google Maps estimate is completely accurate. In between all the stoplights I hit it takes 30 minutes to bike that 5 miles! There are admittedly some bicyclists who ride very skinny, streamlined bikes and wear very tight, streamlined uniforms that go much faster than me. But I bike at least 5 times a week and do body strength workouts a couple of times a week, so it’s not like I’m utterly helpless.

          After a year of biking the same route with no improvement in my commute time, I don’t think there’s anything I can do short of maybe buying one of those very fancy streamlined bikes or working out like a marathon bicyclist. I’m okay with my commute length. But my point is for a major city commuter, the Google Maps estimates don’t seem that far off.

          (As a caveat I do think my bike also kind of sucks, but I’m leery of putting down money on a nicer one without knowing if it would actually improve anything.)

          Reply
          • Mr. Money Mustache July 7, 2017, 10:26 am

            Thanks for the info Haley. So it sounds like you’re averaging 10MPH, or 6 minute miles, which is the speed of a brisk jog. If a lot of that slowness is caused by the lights, at least you can be content that you’re probably keeping up with what a car driver would achieve :-)

            It would be interesting to see if your commute time improved with a 20MPH electric bike. If so, that broadens the usefulness of those things even more.

            Reply
            • Stephen July 7, 2017, 1:05 pm

              “So it sounds like you’re averaging 10MPH, or 6 minute miles, which is the speed of a brisk jog”

              Woah there – I think I’m going to have to sue you in Outrageous Claims Court!

              Unless “speed of a brisk jog” is a euphemism for “makes you want to keel over and die” in which case carry on.

              Reply
        • Erik Y July 6, 2017, 12:58 pm

          I will second MMM on this. I commute year round in Portland, OR on an ebike. My current ride is about 9 miles one way and takes about 30 minutes or so. My old commute was just under 14 miles one way and was about 40-45 minutes. As has been mentioned, an ebike let’s you get there sweat free and feeling great.

          Reply
  • Lady Fordragon June 8, 2017, 2:24 pm

    Awesome article! Just like a majority of the people who have commented on this post, I, too, bike to work and have been doing so since 2015. I live about 4.5 miles from work although when I bike, I either bike through the neighborhoods (~7 miles) or take the bike path near my house (~10 miles). Whenever I take the bike path route, it’s such a wonderful ride, especially since the path takes me through a park that’s so peaceful in the morning. Most mornings it’s just me and nature! :)

    Reply
  • Mrs. Picky Pincher June 8, 2017, 2:28 pm

    Most interesting! I, too, live in the Hot Hell That Is Texas and biking in the heat (which is 6 + months out of the year) isn’t appealing. But I do love that this guy chose to live so close to work and made biking a priority! I’m fortunate enough to work from home nowadays, which has been AWESOME for our savings and car costs.

    We bought used bikes on Craigslist–$75 for two bikes–a few weeks ago, and we’ve loved it. We’ll often go biking in the evenings, which is a good workout in our extremely hilly neighborhood!

    Reply
  • Chris June 8, 2017, 2:38 pm

    Great post. Well done, The Rock. I had an ebike, but sold it as some kids shouted “pensioner” as I rode past their school. Now I’m back to commuting on my old road bike and fitter than ever. Nice work, you young rascals! Nothing against ebikes, but the road bike is just as quick and was less than half the price.

    Reply
  • Brent Weaver June 8, 2017, 2:43 pm

    I started biking daily to work and as many meetings as I can and it has been changing my life one ride at a time. I am going as far as booking meetings that the travel time hits 2-3 hours of biking as a way to take my badassity up a notch. The excercise has been so rewarding. And I find most often that people I meet with aren’t put off by me showing up on a bike… they are more often insanely IMPRESSED that I bike to all of my meetings and to work.

    My work also requires me to be on set and on camera just about every day. When I arrive at the office, I simply stand in front of the AC to cool down a bit and then will splash cold water on my face. These two things help lower my heart rate down to a manageable level and my body once cooled down will feel amazing for our live programs.

    Reply
  • Senad June 8, 2017, 3:28 pm

    I live in a city with excellent bike infrastructure: Munich, Germany.

    Our bike paths are mostly physically separated from the road by a row of parked cars and a green strip with trees.

    In the case where I have to share the road with cars, those roads will be designated as bicycle streets, so the bicycle always has the right of way and multiple bikes are allowed to ride next to each other.

    I ride my bicycle year long, even though we can get a lot of snow in the winter, because the bike paths get cleared daily and very thoroughly. The only time I will take the public transportation is when it is icy or stormy.

    My favorite trip this year was with my wife and our two little kids in the trailer this winter. 15 km to visit my cousins family through the nicest parts of town. It was around 0 degrees Celsius, sunny, little frosty and a small layer of fresh snow. Everything was white and beautiful and magical.

    The bike-friendliness is one of the things I enjoy the most about my current city! :)

    Reply
    • DMoney June 9, 2017, 12:14 pm

      This sounds fantastic. I really wish the good ole USA would take a lesson from Europe on the integration of cycling into our transportation system.

      Reply
  • higginst June 8, 2017, 3:33 pm

    This seems like a great opportunity to post my bike questions! I only really use my car because I have to drop my daughter at day care. I live about 2 blocks from work and could otherwise walk everyday. The day care is about 2.5 kilometers away but with very steep hills and rain or snow on two-thirds of days of the year.

    So, I want an electric bike so I can do the commute quickly. I have the bike trailer for my daughter. I’m not really interested in building my own. Does anyone have an ebike recommendation for 5-10km round trip daily commute that is good in the rain and under $2000? And what rain gear do you recommend? (links are very much appreciated!) I’ve been putting off the purchase because of cost and warnings not to use in the rain.

    Reply
  • Gracie June 8, 2017, 3:42 pm

    While I agree with the overall subject of this article, biking vs. driving when you can, as a person currently living in Houston I feel like some things should be addressed.

    Jeremy is very lucky in that he only lives 4 miles from work. According to the Google Maps posted he actually lives in a nice part of town (The Heights) where $300,00 would buy you a tear down house. You might be lucky to find a 2 BR townhome, but very unlikely. Most homes in this area will go for $500K+. This part of town does not have great schools, so if someone lived here they would likely send their child to private schools, or another school in which you would have to drive to.

    He also lives in a part of town that has access to a bike and run trail and a good portion of his commute is on this trail, not roads. While these trails are beautiful, they are limited to very specific areas in Houston. The particular one he uses specifically dumps you out in downtown, where he works. Most people live in areas that don’t have access to bike trails and most roads are not bike friendly.

    His posted commute does not in fact take him through River Oaks, that is an entirely different part of town. Just wanted to point this out because he bikes through The Heights, Rice Military, and Downtown; not River Oaks…..if his commute had him all the way in River Oaks he probably wouldn’t be biking to work because there isn’t a nice bike lane or trail to ride on. And even though he’s biking to work I bet he’s driving everywhere else because unless he’s hanging out on White Oak all the time, a lot of other stuff to do would be difficult to bike to.

    My reason for mentioning all of this is that yes some people in Houston can commute to work via bike, but these are the minority. Jeremy is very special in where he lives and works. Most people in Houston might not be financially able to live close to work. They may live in a particular area for better school systems. People in Houston that don’t commute via bike shouldn’t be made to feel less than.

    The bigger issue with Houston is that there isn’t enough of a bike friendly attitude or enough public transportation. Some people that live further out can commute to downtown via a Park n Ride, but a lot of people must drive. Some people are lucky to live and work along the Metro line, but those again are a minority. Houston is so big and sprawling, people live all across the city and there just isn’t a proper public transit. The problem isn’t that people don’t want to get out and bike commute, the problem is that Houston would prefer to grow out than up without building proper public transit with it.

    Reply
    • Gracie June 8, 2017, 3:54 pm

      OK I admit, I got hotheaded after reading his first commute…… I re-read the article and I see he switched jobs and he does in fact commute to River Oaks. Cool. And that’s awesome for him that he’s still biking. However, a lot of what I posted previously is still applicable. That he’s very lucky he’s able to afford to live close to work. A lot of people in Houston still can’t do that. He’s still biking in pretty good areas and can go through neighborhoods, a short duration on the bike trail, and then more neighborhoods rather than mostly on major roads.

      Anyone that lives close to work should seriously consider biking to work. However, come on Houston get it together and get some more public transit options! Especially for the huge majority of people that don’t live in really nice areas of the Inner Loop

      I still think that major

      Reply
    • Jeremy Stone June 15, 2017, 1:52 pm

      I won’t deny that I’m lucky in many respects. But it’s not all luck. My wife and I chose to give up space in order to live in the Heights. In 2003, we bought a 2 bedroom 1-bath bungalow (1148 sq ft) that was built in 1920. We could have gotten a much bigger house and more of a yard in the suburbs, but we don’t like commuting. There are other good neighborhoods that are more affordable these days, like the Eastside, which is also close to bike trails. Plus, if you like living in the suburbs, there are also jobs in the suburbs.

      Your comment about schools in my neighborhood is incorrect. The public schools in the Heights are great. My son has been very happy going to Harvard Elementary and now Hogg Middle School and we have been very involved with the schools.

      Yes, my house is close to the trails, which is awesome. Going downtown is very easy. But, as Gracie points out in her reply (and as stated in the article), I now commute to the Westheimer/Kirby area and hardly hit the trail. I do go through River Oaks, Rice Military, and North Montrose. I use almost all city streets, and I cross Allen Parkway, Shepherd, Kirby, and Westheimer on my route. It took me a few weeks to find a good safe route, but I found one.

      I also disagree about the attitude towards bicycling. I would say that in the 4 years I have been commuting via bike, I have only encountered 2 or 3 “frustrated drivers.” Almost all drivers have been extremely courteous and go out of their way to give me space.

      I agree that Houston could be better for biking. BikeHouston is trying. The city has a bike plan. Things are getting better, and the more that people bike, the better it will get.

      I’m not saying that we never drive, but it is minimal because of where we choose to live and work. There is very little that we need that is outside of a few miles from our house.

      I don’t think anyone wants to make anyone feel “less than” for not biking. And I realize it can be difficult. But much of it is a choice that you can do something about. Maybe not for everyone, but for many.

      Reply
  • Jason Lycklama June 8, 2017, 4:10 pm

    In case any of you are wondering, it is also possible to bike year round in REALLY cold temperatures. My winter commute can sometimes dip to below -22F or -30 C without the wind chill. I’ve been biking for more than 20 years and it has gone so well that I have even been able to convince my wife to do the same.

    Reply
  • Miriam June 8, 2017, 4:10 pm

    I was about to comment – hey, I’m from Houston, and that’s IMPOSSIBLE!… and then I remembered, growing up in Houston, I rode my bike every. single. day around the neighborhood, including summer.

    Oh. Guess it IS possible.

    Reply
  • Thorfinnsson June 8, 2017, 4:36 pm

    One thing I’ve never noticed in a Mr. Money Mustache article or comment thread is a suggestion to use a motorcycle (or a moped–if you can stand to be seen on one).

    Obviously for our Houston lawyer that would be a silly suggestion in light of his 5 mile commute, but it quickly becomes a very good option for longer commutes. Motorcycles are for obvious reasons far more fuel efficient than any automobile, cost much less to buy and maintain, and can go anywhere a car can. Parking is almost as flexible as a bicycle provided you equip your motorcycle with a detachable license plate. With mopeds all the advantages of economy increase further, and other than highways they can go everywhere a motorcycle can.

    Many motorcycles (especially touring bikes) come with usable storage capacity and can tow trailers, which seems like it would appeal to mustachians.

    What’s the reason this option is ignored here?

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache June 8, 2017, 11:01 pm

      I really enjoy motorcycles, but if you’re trying to make rational decisions (rather than just pure fun), they kind of fail the test:
      – any old Prius can match a motorcycle in fuel efficiency at 55+MPG city.
      – motorcycles provide zero exercise, just like a car
      – motorcycles are statistically quite dangerous: much worse than cars or bikes, and ALMOST enough to give even me pause, especially if I were to ride one to work every day.

      However, if you live somewhere that “lane splitting” is allowed like California, the motorcycle does still provide some of the traffic-beating advantages of a bike.

      But bikes are just so much more flexible – you can cut across grass, parking lots, sidewalks, pick up the bike and run up a staircase. I have even forded creeks while carrying my bike as a shortcut to avoid having to take a huge detour to get to the bridge. Then you can lock it up anywhere for free, throw it on a bus rack or into the back of any car.

      And you don’t need to waste time and money on licensing and insurance.

      Reply
      • ThriftyChemist June 9, 2017, 9:09 am

        I ride a motorcycle regularly on my absurd commute (35-40 miles one way) and think it’s a viable option. In financial terms, it’s certainly not as good as a bicycle. It’s also not much cheaper than cars, UNLESS you’re focused on efficiency and optimizing your return.

        The biggest savings in riding a motorcycle come when you aren’t over-ambitious. Newer bikes with bigger engines are almost always going to cost more per mile than a fuel-efficient used car. However, an older but well-kept motorbike with low miles and a low displacement can be a good way to take a longer commute if it’s strictly necessary. Doing all of the maintenance yourself, finding a shop that will mount and balance the tires for free, and not riding like an idiot all make it a reasonable option. Here’s my list of criteria for a motorcycle to work for me:

        1. Older than 10 years old
        2. Smaller displacement (<800 ccs for a v-twin engine, <500 for inline 4, <700 for parallel twin)
        3. Low mileage (55 mpg, and you’re able to make that longer commute or visit clients when it’s needed.

        Most of these pieces of advice are the same as how you can approach a used car. However, it’s a lot easier to find a bike in decent condition for less than $2,000 here in Utah that’ll give you 60+ mpg nearly year-round than it is to find an equivalently decent car. Really, the idea is that I’d abandon my long commute altogether, but it’s a work in progress.

        Reply
        • ThriftyChemist June 9, 2017, 9:10 am

          Hm, that post got garbled in the posting process somehow. In the middle, my list should have read like this.

          1. Older than 10 years old
          2. Smaller displacement (<800 ccs for a v-twin engine, <500 for inline 4, <700 for parallel twin)
          3. Low mileage (<15,000 miles)
          4. Online forum for that bike (repair advice, alternate parts, common problems)
          5. Easy to work on – oil changes, chain replacement, taking wheels off, etc.
          6. Insurance kept as liability only

          Reply
  • EarningAndLearning June 8, 2017, 5:09 pm

    This post reminds me of my lawyer uncle in Calgary, Alberta, back in the ’80s when I was growing up, who cycled about 30 minutes to his office downtown & back home every day, all year round. He made ALOT of money in his lifetime and, reading MMM for the past few months, I now see a direct connection between his frugal, cycling ways and his wealth.

    This blog prompted me to actually USE my bike, which had lain dormant for over a year, and when I pass other cyclists on the bike paths, I often wonder if any of them are Mustachians, and I think to myself, “Here we are, cycling along, all of us getting rich!” :)

    Reply
  • MemberBerry42 June 8, 2017, 5:14 pm

    This post really hits home as I live in Houston and commute to downtown via bus 25 miles to and from work. Taking a bus is better than driving a car, but standing in line and sitting on a bus for over an hour each way two times a day becomes pure hell over time. We were actually looking at this author’s neighborhood to move into and considering biking to work. This gives me an example that it can be done. We are just trying to get over having a $200k house and moving into a $400K to $500K house in that area.

    Reply
    • Jennifer July 5, 2017, 2:07 pm

      So you would be spending 200-300k more just to bike to work?

      Reply
  • Matt Kuhn June 8, 2017, 6:32 pm

    I’ve been contemplating biking to work, but we’ll see. Google Maps says it’s about a 30 minute trip, but I need to time it myself. I just got my new bike tubes today (it’s been so long since I’ve ridden, I found one of my tires deflated), so I plan on timing it this weekend. Can’t wait to join the biking crowd!

    Reply
  • Jackie Christianson June 8, 2017, 6:40 pm

    Great post! I biked to work before I started travel assignments (I walk ~1 mi from the company-sponsored hotel these days) and it was the best part of my day. It’s a great warm up so you can start your work day on the right note, and it’s a great way to cool down after a long day too. I work in emergency medicine, so the cool down from a high-stress job was great for both me and my family – I was a lot grouchier without my nightly cool down. You can’t beat the time economy either – it reduces or eliminates your need for other exercise while you’d otherwise be sitting on a gas powered couch!

    Good for Mr Stone!

    Reply
  • Anna June 8, 2017, 7:09 pm

    I am 36 years old and I have never owned a car. Hopefully, I never will.

    I grew up in Sweden where you rode your bike everywhere. A lot of people still do. Sometimes it is cold. Sometimes you get sweaty. At university I biked every single day – to fancy dress parties, to the train station rolling my luggage next to me on the bike, through pouring rain and falling snow. Sometimes you even fell and hurt yourself. Such is life. Only now does it cross my mind that the bus probably would have been fine once in a while, but it honestly never crossed my mind. It was badassity at its finest.

    In any case, it just blows my mind how different the car culture is in the US compared to Scandinavia. I live in NYC since a few months back and I just never go anywhere that’s not within walking distance.

    Reply
  • Kelly June 8, 2017, 7:13 pm

    I’ve been biking to work for the past year and it’s been amazing to commute this way. I used to live 10 miles away from work and commuted on my road bike, but I recently moved closer so my commute is only 15 miles round trip- plus I invested in a sweet ebike. I love it! It’s peaceful, a great way to wake up and get some vitamin D, plus I’ve already exercised by the time I’m home from work. Also, it literally takes me only 10 minutes more than driving would.

    I have no showers at work but I don’t mind. I live in FL and it’s hot as hell in the summer, but most days I get rained on anyway so it’s like a shower. I just have spare clothes and a towel in my waterproof pannier.

    One thing I want to say though is that I think the speeds mentioned in your post are a bit off. I’m an avid cyclist and want to emphasize that it is VERY difficult to maintain 20 mph for a longer distance. I’ve cycled for sport for many years and am very fit. Maintaining even 15 mph is indicative of significant effort for a 5+ mile commute. I would say the average everyday cyclists rides at around 13 mph, and 15-18 if putting in some effort.

    Additionally, when looking into ebikes the majority run at a max of 20 mph as per US laws. If you pedal with the assist you might go faster, but again ebikes require physical effort so don’t think of it as a free ride.

    Bike Love <3

    Reply
    • DMoney June 9, 2017, 12:21 pm

      totally agree about the paces being not realistic. I posted above on the same topic.

      Reply
  • Mr. Atypical June 8, 2017, 7:21 pm

    Agreed, every day is bike to work day. Too many people think it is impossible, but you shine the light on it. Most of them are just being Mr. Wussypants. I don’t even have to pay for my transportation to and from work. As an expat, we have a private driver covered by the company that drives me to and from work. Despite that, I still make 3 of the commutes per week by bike. I would do them all, but the commute is 27 miles each way and I get exhausted and tired from much more than that.

    Reply
  • Kevin June 8, 2017, 7:24 pm

    For those who bike and keep their clothes at work — where exactly do you store your clothes at work?

    Do you have a locker or some storage area? How many changes of clothes do you keep there?

    When I biked to work I always biked with my work clothes on — but my shirt got quite sweaty, even in the winter, even with no bag on my back.

    I’d love to bike to work again. If I can’t figure a way around the clothes and sweating, I’ll just move close enough that it’s a short walk. Thanks!

    Reply
  • Lauri June 8, 2017, 7:53 pm

    With all this talk of e-bikes, have you heard of the Copenhagen Wheel? (https://content.superpedestrian.com) I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on it.

    Reply
  • Vis June 8, 2017, 8:09 pm

    Mr Money Mustache,
    I have a lot in common with this high power lawyer. After reading your blog I made a multitude of adjustments to my life. One of which was to move to a city with a population of 300K with a house exactly 20 minutes from work for daily exercise and to increase the cash for the stash. I live in Saskatoon. From our home everything is less than 25 minutes by bike. Last winter it got to -35C with strong wind at the coldest. Very doable on a bike with a few modifications and appropriate clothing and lights. It was actually quite thrilling to bike in winter and MUCH more interesting in winter conditions. I estimate that we have cut $500.00 per month in commute expenses and I have lost 15lbs to boot! There are many other mustachianisms that we have taken on. (I am sure, if you visited me, you would make me punch myself in the face a few times but we are getting better! Your blog has been a godsend to our family and I am sure many others. I hope that this post inspires many more. Thanks MMM. You are simply the best.

    Reply
  • KK June 8, 2017, 8:10 pm

    Though I am not an American, your advice transcends continents.

    Also, loved the ‘gas powered wheelchair’ line of thought!

    Reply
  • vinyl1 June 8, 2017, 8:19 pm

    I thought of MMM as I solved this clue in today’s Times of London puzzle:

    6. Trading phenomenon: the green equivalent of a company car? (8,5)

    The answer, of course, is ‘business cycle’.

    Reply
  • The Tepid Tamale June 8, 2017, 9:04 pm

    Over 3 years now of biking/running to work, thanks to this blog! (I run when the snow is too deep for bikes) Thanks Mustache, and excellent work Rock! See you on the road tomorrow morning!

    Reply
  • Holly June 8, 2017, 9:26 pm

    Okay so this is kind of a dumb question, but if you’re keeping your dress clothes at work like Jeremy, are you driving occasionally to drop a bunch of clean clothes at the office? My husband is an attorney and this seems to be a sticking point for him; he figures dress shirts etc transported via bike with wind up unacceptably wrinkled.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache June 8, 2017, 10:58 pm

      Not if you put some of those “Pannier” bags on your bike, or have a good sized backpack.

      The idea of using a 3500 pound car to transport 3 pounds of folded clothing seems pretty preposterous, so if you rule that out up front, you’ll find a way :-)

      Reply
    • Jeremy Stone June 15, 2017, 9:05 am

      I do fold my clothes carefully and use a pannier to carry them back and forth. But I’m also not super picky. I would say try it, and if it is not to your liking, then an occasional drive in order to transport clothes or other things is better than always driving.

      Reply
  • Toby June 8, 2017, 9:39 pm

    “Any trace of perspiration or heat was gone within about five minutes.”

    I’m jealous. I love biking to work, and do it frequently (12.5 miles one way). But I am a sweaty mess if temps get much above 65 F in the morning. I bring fresh clothes but still end up sweating for almost a full hour after.

    Teach me your sweat-less ways!

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache June 8, 2017, 10:56 pm

      I assume you know this one already, but sipping your way through a solid 750 – 1000 mL of iced water definitely helps drop the core temperature more quickly. Dumping some on your head too.

      Reply
    • Seth August 13, 2018, 3:04 pm

      12.5 miles would make anyone sweat, I think. I begin to sweat (in 80F weather) after about 4 miles, which sucks because my commute is 6.

      Legit I think your best option is an e-bike. Have you considered that? DIY would be a cheap option. I’ve considered it to reduce sweating, but I’ve just been dealing with it since 6mi isn’t too bad.

      Reply
  • Michael Santiago June 8, 2017, 9:55 pm

    Love the post!

    I just moved to Davis CA, the most bike-friendly city in the US, and it is amazing what a big difference the layout makes. In effect, Davis was designed for bikes and it shows: lots of little alleyways and trails to ride in, and most roads have ‘bike lanes’.

    The only issue with bike lanes is that your roads end up being even wider and taking up more space. We need a city that is for bikes ONLY!

    Reply
  • ZJ Thorne June 8, 2017, 10:15 pm

    Houston’s roads are so uneven and can thus be ultra-hazardous to bicyclists. I’m not just talking about the potholes, but the grading itself can just WHOOSH into another plane.

    Definitely cool to learn that some high prestige professionals are finding ways to make it work for them though. I do walking plus public transportation for everything. I could go farther if I felt safe biking in my city, but I’d rather run the longer distances. (It helps to be a marathoner)

    Reply
  • Anoop June 8, 2017, 11:14 pm

    Well, I work in IT, but had a sales oriented role while in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Regardless of heat (close to 50° C) in peak summer, I still managed to bike to and from work. What enabled me to do this is basically going early to work, staying relatively close to work under 2 km.), and keeping a versatile jacket at work to use when meeting customers.

    I wouldn’t have considered it before reading the clown car article of MMM!

    Note: Now that I’m in Bangalore, India, I use a combination of cycling, walking and public transportation to commute. It’s still as fast as a car, as I walk the 1.5 KMS in the middle which always has a traffic jam.

    Reply
  • César Marques June 9, 2017, 4:13 am

    Clothing is a very good topic. Dress code is not that strict anymore. Lawyers are in one extreme, of course, but more and more industries are relaxing about this.
    I’m from IT and I started my career all suited up. Not all of my colleagues were doing it, but I felt like doing it. This is the thing – in 90% of the cases, it’s all in our heads. As my career developed, I started to relax about this.
    When I started using the bicycle to go everywhere I started to have a more practical approach in all aspects of my life (yes, the bicycle is a catalyst in so many good things!), and my own dress code changed.
    I commuting by bike from 4 years now, rain or shine, and I dress smart casual, or totally causal, depending on my mood, weather, meeting with external people or not, etc.
    Since I started skateboarding 2 years ago, that also influenced my style and half of the days I’m wearing vans shoes, etc.
    Like so many “rules” of “modern” society that mustachians don’t follow, dress code is just another one of this rules. Being smart and have our own approach is enough!

    Reply
  • Tmco69 June 9, 2017, 4:43 am

    We have a ‘owning a car’ vs ‘not owning a car’ calculator on our website that folks might find handy. It includes various variables like cost of bike, years completed, interest rate on money saved, etc to show true cost savings.

    http://www.bicycleuniverse.info

    I’ve just taken it over from the original owner who started it in 2004 and the main theme is on bike commuting, bike safety and helping the environment by using your bike and losing the car.

    Reply
  • Bauke June 9, 2017, 4:44 am

    As a Dutchmen and Amsterdam based lawyer, I am quite surprised to see the US approach to commuting filter through your posts. An estimated 90% of my lawyer–colleagues come to work by by bicycle without any problems (although it rained heavily this morning, I dried up in a couple of hours in my suit). Time for US residents to realise that sitting in a car is not a natural condition.

    Biking to work is great and has the additional benefit to wake up in the morning and wind down in the evening after a busy (lawyer) working day.

    Reply
  • Helen Bussink June 9, 2017, 5:00 am

    Coincidentally, we have just had the annual “we cycle to work” event here in Denmark. Each year, teams from all over the country get together and compete to see who can do the most kilometres in the month of May (we’re talking bike capital of the world here, so most of the participants do this every day anyway!).
    At the end of the month you see how far you as an individual and as a team hve ridden, how many calories you’ve burned, how much CO2 you’ve saved being emitted and how much money you’ve saved. It’s pretty illuminating so I thought I’d put my numbers in here for interest.

    May in Denmark has a lot of public holidays so I only had 21 cycling days but in that time
    I averaged 18.5km a day (it’s 9km each way between work and home, dropping off kids at school on the way),
    I burnt 9000 calories (which is probably why Copenhageners are such beautiful people!)
    I saved DKK467 (about US$70)
    I prevented emissions of about 59kg of CO2 (compared with car/public transport).

    My team of 16 people biked 2591.3 km (1610miles)
    We biked for 220 days
    We saved 422kg of CO2.

    Admittedly, we have the infrastructure to do it easily, safely and cheaply, and Copenhagen is hardly the sprawling conurbation of Houston, but it shows how powerful the conversion can be both financially, health wise and environmentally. If only all cities (and commuters) coudl do this. Even in Copenhagen, only about 50% of commuters are by bike (falling to between 30 and 40% in the winter time).

    My team of 16

    Reply
    • Helen Bussink June 9, 2017, 5:08 am

      Also, if you want to check out the stats and how the whole event works you can see it here:
      http://www.vcta.dk/Stats.aspx

      Copenhagen city itself had 15431 participants who rode 211529 cycle days, and collectively biked 2678409.27 km with an average of 13,71 bike days per participant who cycled an average of 173,57km per participant.

      Reply
  • FizzyWater June 9, 2017, 5:47 am

    As ever a great post. I live in the south of the Netherlands and cycle to work every day all year round. I also do my shopping by bike! So much so, I haven’t used my car for 8 weeks!

    The only bugger is that I’ve had to replace my car’s battery today as my car was so upset with the neglect, it decided to run out of elecktrickery! Damnit!

    Reply
  • VT_Rambler June 9, 2017, 5:54 am

    I love this! I have been doing more biking around my house lately and found lots of fun trails, and friendly people. I’m looking for advice though. My commute is about 20 miles one way, and the nature of VT hills means the only reasonably direct path is on the side of a very busy and hilly route 302. Eventually I will be moving closer to work (fiance is job searching hard right now), but in the meantime, how can I get my commute down to something reasonable like 45 minutes? Maybe driving halfway and parking at the state forest? For reference I commute from Groton to East Barre, and my bicycle is a 20 year old Huffy mountain bike with questionable brakes, and 5 working gears. Thanks in advance!

    Reply
  • B.C. Kowalski June 9, 2017, 6:51 am

    So our culture likes to focus on bike to work, which is great, except work is far from the only trips we make in a typical week or weekend. I think the result is often that, if I feel like I can’t bike to work for whatever reason, then I simply don’t bike at all. (As one of my favorite Bikeyface comics points out, when she rides by someone hold a Bike to Work sign, she shouts back, “bike everywhere!”)

    I lead a group called Bike Fun Wausau, in which I host monthly rides to show people that you can use bikes to get around and do fun things without cars. The benefit is that it shows people they can use their bikes to get around town – many people comment that they were surprised to learn of some of the routes I’ve shown them. They’re also often surprised that they could ride much farther than they thought. We ride at a very slow pace that everyone from little Johnny to 79-year-old grandma can keep up with, opening up bicycling for everyone. We look like quite the little train of fun cruising along our city’s streets.

    A good place to start is the two-mile barrier. Ride your bike to anything within two miles of your starting location. Eventually you will soon start surpassing this. You’ll find some cool restaurant or cafe three miles away, or maybe a concert in the park that’s four miles away. It won’t be long before that 4-6 mile commute starts looking very doable.

    It’s even possible to commute if you need your car at work. Drive your car with your bike in the trunk or on a bike rack on Monday morning, and ride home. Then on Friday you pack it in the trunk and take your car home. You’ll find you buy a lot less needless junk since you can’t just hop in your car to buy mindless junk you don’t need.

    Eventually it becomes addictive. I’m at the point where it’s become an obsession not to drive my car (so much so the battery died recently and I had to recharge it). You get creative in how you can manage your life on a bike only. Why? Because at some point you will realize that bikes are really fun, besides saving you $0.50/mile and burning fat for fuel. I love my ride home from work every day, the stress disappearing under my wheels while I build my FIRE savings. I hope this helps some reader who might be on the fence about bicycles. Starting can be hard. But eventually they become addictions!

    Reply
    • César Marques June 9, 2017, 7:16 am

      I still have fuel from our last family trip to the Alps, last April (and we filled up the deposit in Luxembourg, 1€/litter). We are four and we use bikes and public transports, mainly. The car is used for trips, hauling weekend grocery shopping and transport our three dogs to the park (2km from our house).

      Reply
  • Derek June 9, 2017, 7:26 am

    Wow, that’s crazy! I discovered MMM in February and since then have used his methods to cut my workdays by 23% and put my house on track to be paid off in five years. (I can post the details later if anyone wants to see them) This post is wild because I read it literally right when I arrived home from my last 4.4 mile test ride to work and confirmed that I’ll be riding to work from now on. Thanks MMM and everyone for your life-changing perspective.

    Reply
  • Kyle June 9, 2017, 7:54 am

    Thanks for writing this up, MMM. I’m a daily bike commuter in Houston. I live in the Woodland Heights area and commute 17 miles to the Westchase area. Eventually I’m looking to find a job closer to home, but for now biking, sometimes combined with public transit (bikes can be loaded on any METRO bus or train) has been working out well for me. I work in IT for a retail company. While I’m lucky to have showers on-site at my work, I find people’s sweat and smell concerns to be really overblown.

    The Houston Bike Plan was adopted by City Council in March and is going to give us a lot more infrastructure, and other positive changes. http://houstonbikeplan.org/

    Reply
  • Heather June 9, 2017, 8:06 am

    Thanks for sharing this great story! I’ve lived car-free in northern Minnesota for the past three years and am constantly told how impossible it is for pretty much everyone else to do the same thing. Whether it is the cold weather (our average temperature is less than 40 degrees F), the hills, or the lack of bike infrastructure, most people write off biking before they’ve even tried it.

    And while I might think I’m pretty special, there is nothing really unique about me that makes me more capable of riding my bike than the next person. Well, I guess the biggest difference is that I didn’t tell myself I couldn’t do it before I started doing it. I didn’t start off biking on icy roads in -30 degrees. I started riding my bike on nice days and realized that it was way more fun and allowed me to experience my community in a more intimate way than a car ever could. So gradually I started using my car less for everything – work, to get groceries, to meet friends, to go to the doctors, etc.

    Eventually I was only using my car once every month or two and decided the cost of insurance and hassle of maintaining a car that sits for 99.9% of it’s life wasn’t worth it. Getting rid of my car was a little intimidating at first because I had grown up in a car culture and was used to having that as a crutch. But that quickly passed and I know can’t imagine ever owning or being responsible for another car.

    The trick is not focusing on excuses of why something isn’t possible. Rather look for things that are within your own control and put your effort into finding solutions to those barriers (whether real or perceived). Life is far more fun outside of a car, so even going car-lite has a lot of benefits!

    Reply
  • Houstonian June 9, 2017, 8:39 am

    Lived in Houston for a total of 9 years. Half of it “close in” and half in the ‘burbs. My first thought is that there is a lack of understanding about Houston as a whole. I have no clue about L.A., but it’s like knowing one person who bikes there and then concluding it is reasonable for a ‘significant’ amount of people. I would be happy to take a bet on the highways clearing out. Ain’t gonna happen and Houston will continue to be on lists of least walkable/bikeable/commuter friendly cities.

    Kudos to the lawyer for two things – living reasonably close to his work place and owning a nice older car. And, those are the things I’d recommend to someone considering Houston…..or, anywhere I suppose.

    Houston’s layout is horrible. I lived in Chicago for a bit and while I wouldn’t bike to work, I walked 2 miles and caught the train and walked to the office on the other side…rain/sleet/snow and occasional 90+ temps. It was great and I could read or sleep on the train. Houston has no rail system (don’t count little rail line between downtown and the medical center).

    There has never been any real regulation or foresight in development. It’s a mish-mash resulting from a free-for-all.

    To the point of biking to work in Houston, it is possible, if you live reasonably close to your job. But:

    – given the design, even if you are close, many routes will be unfriendly to bikers.

    – during summer, I would start to sweat just walking from the parking garage to the office before 8am. i.e. that hot/humid at somewhat early hours. Most who have to wear lawyer clothes wouldn’t choose to bike unless they had shower facilities at the office.

    – most jobs are in four areas: downtown, the galleria, the medical center, and along the concentric highways that surround Houston (610, 8, and 6). The former three are not cheap areas (although Houston as a whole is cheap) and the spots along the highways are less bike friendly and not attractive (as a place to live).

    – overall, schools are not good within Houston proper, and schools have a significant impact on where people choose to live. They are better in the ‘burbs. And the close in places with good schools are very pricey.

    – most people in Houston do not live within even 10 miles of their work location. Many live 20+. Sure, they chose to do so, but Houston is a huge city with many people. There is not room for them to all live within 5 miles of work (at least as how Houston has developed…..with more planning, perhaps). All citizens would be better of if it were 5 or 6 smaller cities. The lack of planning is incredible.

    The bulk of Houston is not attractive. People come here mainly for jobs and secondarily for low overall cost, warmer/sunnier climate, the entrepreneurial spirit, or they simply like the South. For really outdoorsy people who do not live in Houston, but are considering it, I would say look elsewhere. Likewise for those that value biking for transportation.

    I’d like to hear more comments from Houstonians. Lots of ‘pro’ comments from people living in Wisconsin, Michigan, Canada, etc.

    Reply
  • Ryan June 9, 2017, 10:40 am

    Great to see this post! Way to go, Jeremy!!! My girlfriend and I each ride about 10-12 miles roundtrip as daily bike commuters in Pittsburgh. Inspired in part by the MMM blog, we left our car-heavy life in Vermont(where, even without traffic it takes an hour to drive 35 miles) and re-settled in the Steel City. Here we enjoy quiet rolling through neighborhoods and parks and along the rivers as we pedal to and from work and run errands at the food co-op and Trader Joe’s. There’s a badass bike community here, too, thanks in part to a great nonprofit (Bike Pittsburgh) that encourages folks to roll out and use their bodies. Given all the hills here (it truly is “uphill both ways” as my grandparents used to say about walking to school), I’m surprised I don’t see more e-bikes in Pittsburgh. Maybe everyone prefers to pedal (I know we love it), but e-bikes would seem to appeal to a large number of people here since there is ample bike infrastructure that’s only getting better and lots of steep terrain. Anyway, glad to see others enjoying the good life in what is a much hotter and more humid climate zone.

    Reply
  • Tim June 9, 2017, 11:34 am

    I was wondering what bikers thought of a Rhodes Car (http://rhoadescar.com/). My wife and I are around 50, going to FIRE soon (can it still be called FIRE when you are in your 50’s?), and want/need to change to a more healthy lifestyle. We came across the Rhodes Car and thought it might be a fun way to spend some time together. Thanks!

    Reply
  • Bill G June 9, 2017, 11:44 am

    Bike commuting stories really hit a nerve!
    This will go against the Mustachian grain but I would cycle to work even if it cost more than the tube or driving. I am outdoors, I see the sights (my current contract is at an office in London’s West End, I ride past Buckingham Palace every day!), time away from my phone, freedom to go where I please and I know almost to the minute how long it will take… it’s all good, saving money is simply the cherry on the cake.

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

    Fantastic information and perspective. I had no idea Google maps even had a bike feature I was playing around with it and checking out the places I usually go to. Biking is longer than driving since traffic isn’t too bad locally but it’s not that much longer. I will have to at least increase the times I bike on routes.

    Reply
  • dave June 9, 2017, 12:31 pm

    It just goes to show you that if there is a will, there is a way. Many people fall into the contempt prior to investigation mindset. It is amazing that the travel time was just about the same after finding an alternate route that was more suited for a bike. All of use should look for ways to reduce expenses, pollute less, and combine exercise with our means of transportation.

    Reply
  • TMack June 9, 2017, 1:01 pm

    Manhattanite here.
    Biking to work is the best. I discovered I live close enough to bike to work, about 5 miles, last year. Got rid of the monthly metrocard. $120/mo savings. My commute by bike is 25 min each way. When I commute by subway it’s 45 min. I start and end each workday riding up and down the Hudson River. Pretty great.

    I also have a Citibike membership. NYC’s bike share program, now $175/year for side trips. I have an aversion to locking my bike up outside, for fear that it won’t be there when I come back out.

    New York is getting more bike friendly every day. Though, in my advancing 40’s, I’m becoming more risk averse. I try not to ride in the rain, in case of slipping on metal street plates, or at night. NYC is getting friendlier, but not that friendly.

    Reply

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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.

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Love, Mr. Money Mustache

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