25 Jun Why You Should Bike to Work Instead of Drive
Picture this: it’s 8:30 in the morning and you’re sitting in your car on your way to work. You have your thermos of coffee – world’s greatest dad written on it – and are tuned to the traffic report on the radio. Sounds like there was a big accident up ahead and you’re going to be late for work. Just then out of the corner of your eye a biker zooms past you at speeds you didn’t think possible before. What on earth was that?
Electric bikes are quickly becoming one of the most popular means of commuting to and from work and for good reason: they’re fast, efficient, good for your wallet, and better for your health. Simply riding a bike to work can save you thousands of dollars a year and drastically increase the quality of your life.
But exactly are the pros and cons and biking to work? Do the benefits outweigh the potential pitfalls?
We think absolutely yes: cycling to work is the best way to go.
Below you will find our top reasons for why you should bike to work and how they are beneficial. By the end of this article, we hope that you will be more than convinced to ditch the car and join the electric bike movement.
Let’s get to it!
The cost of owning and maintaining a car can be ridiculous sometimes. Between insurance, gas, maintenance, and other miscellaneous expenses, owning a car can cost up to $8,500 per year in the US and 5750 GBP in the UK (source: NerdWallet). And we’re not even including the cost of buying the thing in the first place!
The costs of owning and maintaining an electric bike are much, much less than a car. Aside from the initial costs of buying the bike (usually around $1200-$2000) you just have to worry about the costs of charging the battery, the occasional tuneup, and possibly insurance.
Whilst electricity prices vary around the world, even the largest battery should cost less than $0.30 per charge. If the range of your ebike is 50 miles/charge, that’s around $5-$6 in total to ride a thousand miles. If you should need some sort of maintenance along the way, most repairs, be it a flat tire, brake adjustment, or new tubes, should cost no more than $30.
How much it costs to own an ebike really comes down to how and how much you use it. Even if someone uses it constantly though, it would take years to spend $8,500 on costs, rather than one year like owning a car does.
Of course one of the greatest benefits of biking to work is that it’s better for your health. Rather than just sitting in a car and sipping your morning coffee, cycling actually requires activity. This increased activity, which is really exercise in some form, leads to numerous health benefits both short and long term.
In the short term, riding is good for fitness, your moods, and losing weight. Whilst the average ebiker burns 25% fewer calories than a conventional cyclist, they still burn up to 450 calories an hour.
When we look at the long-term health benefits of biking to work, things look even better. According to this study, the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and many other forms of premature mortality were all lower. So cycling not only makes your quality of life better but longer.
3. Better for the environment
The environmental impacts of using electric bikes are, in every way, better than using a car. Bikes, both electric and conventional, consume much, much less energy when in use and lead to overall less CO2 emitted. An electric bike produces 20 kg of carbon every 1000 miles ridden while a car produces almost 470 kg – 2200% more than the electric bike.
In terms of air pollution, bicycles emit practically nothing in terms of noxious, dangerous fumes, just so long as they aren’t gas-powered.
Bikes don’t produce any noise pollution either unless you consider the symphony of a thousand bike bells to be terrible (why would you?!)
4. Benefit from government schemes
Many governments have (finally) caught onto the benefits of biking to work and are starting to promote it. Many are even offering lucrative incentives to commuters and big tax breaks.
Cycle to Work schemes in the UK have saved people almost 40% of the costs of commuter bicycles. In Italy, the government recently launched an initiative that will give up to 60% back on purchases if they’re considered green transport, including electric bikes. (Thanks Conte!) In the USA, a bill containing a proposed 30% tax credit on electric bikes is currently being considered.
So if you’re concerned about the price of an electric bike, just look to your government for a little help! With all of the initiatives these days, you may not have to pay full price for a good electric bike.
5. Contribute to the economy
It would be easy to choose the car industry as having more economic potential when compared to other modes of personal transport. After all, it is often vital to many countries’ manufacturing sectors.
Interestingly enough, studies have shown that biking is actually better for local economies than driving.
For one thing, the bicycle industry employs hundreds of thousands of workers in both private and civic sectors. Not only that bike tourism is also an increasingly profitable business.
Cyclists too are more inclined to stop at stores and browse on the way to wherever they’re going. Meanwhile, cars were less likely to stop. So when you’re biking home and want to stop at a local market, you can and could potentially be contributing to your community doing so.
6. Sometimes faster
The average commute in the USA and UK is around thirty minutes one way, one hour in total for the day.
Bikers on the other hand are only commuting 45 minutes in total per day.
Ok, there are some caveats to these numbers. Bikers are only commuting about 10 miles each way whilst cars could potentially be doing more.
But the fact that a biker only has to commute 10 miles and no more is saying something. Without having to worry about a car, commuting bicyclists can take more advantage of public transport and special bike lanes. They could potentially live closer to their work as well.
And when you consider that in cities like London the average speed of a commuter is 14 MPH and that the average speed of a novice cyclist is 15 MPH, it seems like a waste to drive right?
7. More fun
Biking is fun, admit it. The feeling of zooming around the streets, carving corners, jumping over curbs; there’s something exhilarating about it. I dare you to ride around for 10 minutes and not feel like a kid again!
And who says you can’t enjoy your commute to work?! Even something as simple as ringing the bell or giving someone a high-five on the street can make your day. If you cycle to work and enter with a smile on your face as well, it’ll help others feel the same (smiles are contagious).
Reality-check: dealing with hills while biking to work sucks. It may be one of the biggest buzzkills of all. But if you have an electric bike with some climbing power, you won’t even notice them: you’ll glide past those hills as if they were speed bumps.
If you’re new electric bikes, read about how to ride them and how to deal with those annoying hills.
8. Reduce your carbon footprint
Calculating the true carbon footprint for personal vehicles can be difficult. There are a lot of factors to consider, such as manufacturing, fuel consumption, and even diet (you need to eat to burn calories and food production has a carbon footprint as well).
But as so many studies have shown: the environmental impact of bicycles is so much better than cars.
In an amazing report produced by the European Cyclist Federation, they found that both conventional bikes and ebikes produced around 22 grams of CO2 per km over the course of their entire lifespan (from manufacturing to personal use). Cars, on the other hand, produced 271 grams of CO2 per km. Cars produce almost 10 times more CO2 than cars.
TL;DR You want to help combat climate change and lower CO2 emissions? Buy an ebike.
9. No need to worry about parking
Speaking for myself, finding parking may be the worst part of driving in the city. Nothing is worse than driving 45 minutes in bumper-to-bumper traffic, only to have to spend another 15 minutes hunting for a free space. God forbid you can only find paid parking as well.
When you bike to work though, parking is much less of a problem. Aside from the fact that you can fit more bikes than cars in a standard parking space (between 12-20 bikes per car depending on who you ask), they’re also easier to maneuver into space. If you have a foldable electric bike, then you could potentially take it inside the office with you.
Wondering where to put your electric bike at work? Obviously, you’ll want to park it somewhere near an outlet and lock it up as usual. If, on the other hand, your ebike features a removable battery you can park it wherever you might park a normal bike and then take the battery inside with you. All of our ebikes feature removable batteries themselves.
10. More freedom
Robert M. Pirsig who wrote the amazing Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance said this about car drivers:
“Something about the car drivers too…they all look like they’re in a funeral procession…” and that “They seem to be thinking about where they want to be rather than where they are.”
In summary: it’s boring behind the wheel of a car, especially when you’re commuting. You’re just sitting down, not moving, shut inside, and wishing you were something else.
When you ride your bike to work, many of those aforementioned pitfalls are avoided. At least you’re active and outside interacting with the rest of the world! You hear the sounds of the city, the smells of the markets, the sights of life. If you’re the kind who commutes very early as well, nothing is better to stop the sunrise as well and nothing ruins it quicker than being stuck in your car.
11. Good for mental health
Biking can have just as much of an impact on your brain as any muscle in your body. Consider the following mental health benefits cycling provides:
- Increased motor skill practice helps maintain cerebral white matter, which helps the brain communicate with itself.
- Biking helps sustain healthy neurons and create new ones.
- Anaerobic exercise helps maintain healthy blood flow of which the brain needs to function. More blood to the brain means increased mental agility.
So if you bike to work, you should be more than prepared for anything your boss throws at you that day and happy to do so.
12. Better use of your time
Think that you don’t have enough time in the day to exercise? Who says you can’t exercise while doing something else?
Biking to work may be one of the few examples of where you can do two daily activities reasonably at once. And for the modern careerist, whose attention is increasingly split and time is increasingly valuable, being able to multitask is an amazing lifehack.
Perhaps you’re the kind of person who likes to go to the gym after work: use your bike ride as a warmup! Or maybe you know you won’t have time in the evening for exercise: take a longer route in the morning and get those miles in.
13. Longer, better quality of life
We mentioned earlier that being active on your commute resulted in lower rates of cardiovascular disease and cancer. But just how much can biking to work really benefit your longevity?
According to the researcher-run website The Conversation, people who rode to work were 20% less at risk of death overall. Further, bike commuters are 25% less likely to suffer from cardiovascular problems and 15% less likely to be diagnosed with cancer.
You don’t even need to cycle the entire way! If you can manage a complete 30-minute bike ride to work, more power to you. You can still reap the health benefits from 15 minutes cycling plus some other mode of transport as well, like the train or bus.
14. Lower entry-level costs
According to Kelly Blue Book, the average price of a new car is around $38,000 in the USA. In the UK, it’s 32,000 GBP (around 48,000 USD) and increasing. And we’re not even talking about all the additional costs and fees that come with owning a car as well.
To buy a reliable car, you have to put a decent amount of cash on the table up-front. Sometimes, it’s just not reasonable or practical for that matter to buy a new car.
A good electric bike, on the other hand, will cost around $1400, and it can be just as effective as a car for commuting, if not more. You can of course spend more – there are lots of different kinds of ebikes – and potentially make the commute even more comfortable.
So would you spend $40,000 on something when there’s something else just as useful for less than a tenth of the price?
15. Better start to the day
Going to work can sometimes be difficult. We’ve all had those days where we wake up in a mental fog and then it follows us to the office.
Studies have shown that exercising in the morning leads to increased cognitive agility and attention: two very important things to have at the workplace. It can be as little as 10 minutes of cardio or a full session of aerobics.
As we’ve spoken about many times in this article, commuting by bike is like a mini-workout in itself. So if you’re cycling to work in the morning, you’ll arrive bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and ready to tackle the day.
16. Join a new community
Buying an electric bicycle isn’t just financially savvy nor is it environmentally responsible; it’s also a lifestyle choice.
By having an ebike, you’ll be joining thousands of others who also believe in the benefits of biking, not just to work but everywhere. Low costs, low impact, low investment, and a whole lot of fun. Cyclists know how to enjoy life to the fullest.
In fact, there’s a whole movement based around the idea of commuting to work on a bike! For one week in late May, Bike to Work Week is held in both North America. This is a time to celebrate all things bicycling and to show how great biking really is, not just for ourselves but the entire community. Join the next one!
17. It’s becoming safe(r)
When critics list out the disadvantages of cycling to work, safety is often near the top of the list. Cars may be more expensive, more damaging to the planet, and more stressful to use at times, but at least you’re protected in them. Bikers are rather more exposed during their commutes.
There’s no denying that biking in urban areas can be dangerous, more so than self-driving or taking public transit.
But most injuries are the result of poor biker awareness and improper infrastructure.
More and more cities are installing bike lanes, not just in the US but in Europe as well. This is especially so post-COVID. And bike lanes are a proven means of preserving the safety of not only cyclists but automobile drivers as well according to a new study.
As more bike lanes are installed and fellow commuters become more aware of bikers, overall safety increases.
18. Weight loss
The University of Copenhagen ran a study where they compared weight loss between several groups: one was intended to cycle to work whilst several others participated in some sort of leisurely exercise.
The results: over a 6-month period, those who biked to work lost on average 4.2 kgs of body mass. Compare this to the group that exercised intensely for the same period (4.6 kgs lost) and the group that exercised moderately (2.6 kgs lost) and it’s actually quite remarkable. Cycling to work is almost equivalent to practicing regular intense workouts at the gym in terms of weight loss.
Are there any benefits that we missed? Is there something particular that you get out of biking to work? Leave a comment below and let us know!
John MyerPosted at 17:16h, 10 October
I just got nice ebike and am considering switching from my car to ebiking. Thanks for writing this piece on the benefits! One consideration of mine is extending the life of my van.
Silvia PipponziPosted at 11:01h, 07 November
Great idea John! let us know how it goes 🙂