Biking Home to Success
Today I learned something really cool about my job: You get paid bonus money to use alternative forms of transportation.
Let me go back a week though. Last week, I was wondering how I could save money by driving my truck less. It is an inefficient commuting machine, although it’s great at driving me out to the lake for a weekend of fun on the water. I thought about riding my bike to work. It’s just under 9 miles one way, uphill for about 95% of the route. While it’s feasible for someone with much more experience biking, and with an efficient road-centric bike, to me it seemed out of reach. I eventually dismissed it as impossible, and started day-dreaming about an e-Bike that would propel me up the hills without much effort on my part so I could arrive at work not covered in sweat. While an e-Bike would be cool, they are expensive. I could build my own from a kit, but I didn’t really want to mess with my perfectly functional bike’s current state. I may consider it in the future, but for now it’s off the table. We’re trying to save money, not blow more on something like this.
I kept pondering how I could possibly ride my bike instead of driving to work. I thought of a few plans that might work, and then inevitably came up with reasons why they weren’t good ideas. Then I had a thought: I could just ride my bike home. I don’t care if I’m super sweaty after I get home, I have a shower. That cuts out at least half off the pollution and wasted resources of a truck-based commute. At first I thought I could just take my bike to work in the back of my truck on Monday and Wednesday and leave the bike overnight, and ride home Tuesday and Thursdays. That would work, but then I’d be without my bike on Monday and Wednesday nights. What if I needed to go to the store or just out for a ride? It wouldn’t be a good plan. My next thought was that Alex could drive me and my bike to work. She is commuting daily about 5 miles further than my own job, but off of a different freeway. I calculated the extra driving time necessary for her to detour by my job and figured it would only add a couple of minutes overall. I toyed with an old bike rack that worked properly on her old Corolla, but it didn’t seem stable on the xD. Admitting defeat, I started browsing online for a compatible bike rack. I imagined installing a small trailer hitch on the back of the xD to handle bike racks. I looked into the type that were designed for the back of a hatchback. Then I remembered again that we’re trying to save money, not spend more money.
Then I realized, I can just stick my bike in the back of her car. It’s a hatchback, the seats fold down, and there should be plenty of room. My first experiments were a failure. A 26″ bike does not fit in the back of a Scion xD. Unless… I took off the front wheel, thanks quick release! The bike fit! After all that, I finally had a viable plan. The next day, Alex dropped me off near work but still on the main road so she didn’t have to go too slowly through a residential zone. I reassembled my bike and coasted down the street to my parking structure. For the whole day, I was excited and nervous for my upcoming 9 mile ride home. It was a hot day, temperatures were about 95°F outside as the afternoon was running out. Promptly at 4:30 I dressed for the ride home and was on my way. 8.88 miles and 44 minutes later, I arrived home, covered in sweat and wearing a huge grin. That was FUN! Sure it was a lot of work, and it was hot, but it felt great knowing that I can at least get home from work in a reasonable amount of time without the power of gasoline.
Flash forward to the beginning of this post. I learned that there is a Trip Reduction Incentive Plan here at my job. There are multiple options for this incentive: Bike, Bus, Carpool, Rail, Walk, or Zero Emission Vehicle. Biking is my preferred method, but I am also technically Carpooling to work in the morning. After a brief discussion with the HR department, I found out all I need to do is fill out a little slip of paper with the days I ride my bike home, and I’ll be paid $2 for each day I do that! Sure it’s not a lot of money, but if you consider I save at least $5 in gas and general wear & tear on my 20 mile commute by truck, and add in the additional $2 incentive, I’m looking at being paid $7 to ride my bike home. That’s nothing to sneeze at. If I do this 3 times a week until our migration to Utah, that’s an additional $4,000 in my pocket. To someone who is thrilled to be going frugal, this is a very exciting proposition.
If I can do this every day, maybe that e-Bike isn’t such a bad idea after all…