Bike to Be Green and Be Healthy

Evan Matzen, Manager, Sustainability


ave you ever calculated how much it costs for your daily commute? No? It’s a good exercise. For instance, my commute is 25 miles each way. My car gets 40 mpg, so I burn 1.25Bike_To_Work_2012_13-resized-600 gallons every day roundtrip. At $4.25 a gallon here in Southern California, that means I pay $5.31 each day in gas alone to get to and from work. Assuming 250 work days a year, that’s over $1,327 every year in gas for my commute. That isn’t taking into consideration maintenance, insurance, and wear and tear. At a 2012 IRS mileage reimbursement rate of $0.555 per mile (which is supposed to cover all fixed and variable costs), my commute costs me more than $6,937 a year, not to mention the environmental impact a car makes!

So let’s talk about alternatives. Last Friday was national Bike to Work Day. Our office is located in San Diego County, which does a great job of promoting this event. Local companies are recruited to host “pit stops” all over the county, and this year there were over 80 locations. Each pit stop is loaded with water, food, T-shirts, tire repair kits, and other fun stuff donated by sponsors of the San Diego Bike to Work Day.

Bike_To_Work_2012_38-resized-600At HD Supply, we put together four guided bike routes ranging from 3 to 9 miles that encourage novice bikers to join more experienced riders in a safe and comfortable group ride to work. We also provided a support vehicle to carry bags and provide aid in case of a flat tire or other problems. The goal this year was to persuade people wouldn’t ordinarily think of biking, or who live too far away for a daily bike commute, to try riding in one day. A group of employees here participated and had a great time while doing it! Check out the photos below.


I know that biking to work, carpooling, or using alternative forms of transportation isn’t always convenient. My bike ride from home to work would take me 4 hours a day, which is time I can’t afford. However, I have determined places along my normal commute where I can park and bike the rest of the way to work, ranging from 5 to 13 miles, which I try to do as often as possible. Not only does it cut down on my commuting expenses, but it is far healthier than driving my car. By biking once a week, and cutting my commute by 15 miles, I’m saving over $400 a year.

In addition to biking, I carpool as often as I can. Carpooling once a week will save me at least $720 a year.

Four years ago, our coworker Jeff Nichols decided to dramatically rethink his commute. Living 12 miles from work, he realized that biking to work would save a significant amount of bike to be greenmoney and help him be healthier. Most of his ride is on a dedicated bike path or roads with comfortable bike lanes. I rode with him last year during Bike to Work Day and was very impressed with how pleasant it was. Since he began biking to work he has tracked his impact, using the Dashboard Tracker that he created, and found that he:

  • Biked a total of 7,774 miles
  • Saved 386.9 gallons of gasoline
  • Saved $2,803.74 in commuting costs
  • Biked to work 299 out of 1,000 days
  • Burned 467,636 calories
  • Reduced his CO2 footprint by 5,275.9 pounds through NOT driving


So, it’s time to take steps toward rethinking your commute. You don’t have to make as major a change as Jeff did (though you are encouraged to do so). As I said with carpooling in a previous post, changing your commuting habits doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Biking 10 miles here and there or carpooling every now and then can go a long way to lowering costs, improving health, and reducing your environmental impact.

Have you ever participated in Bike to Work Day? What benefits have you seen from riding a bicycle?

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