High Gasoline Prices Hurting? The Answer to Saving Money on Gas Might Be in Your Garage

Robin Willaims, the actor who most recently starred in the movie RV, is an over-the-top bicycle fanatic as well. He owns several racing bikes, of ever increasing cost, and rides in various road races as a competitor. He doesn’t have to worry about the cost of his next gas station fillup, like the rest of us but rides a bicycle every chance he get. He is also in excellent physical shape, a side effect of bike riding that helps him with the pratfalls and stunts associated with his movie career.

Getting back to that bicycle in your garage, it is possible to ride it to work and back and survive, Americans do it every day. It might even be the patriotic thing to do considering that we are now experiencing the benefits of the National Energy Policy that was adopted by Washington in 2003.

Various studies are taken by academic organizations on the “average” commute times and distances in major urban areas in the United States and for the illustrative purposes of this article we will be working with a vehicle driving distance of six miles, twice-a-day for a total of twelve miles. Figuring a half-hour in the morning to work and a half-hour back home in the afternoon we have the basis for our adding-up the benefits of your becoming a biker.

Bicycling Calories Used
riding to work. If you weigh 130 pounds and pedal 10-12 miles per hour (the actual average speed of most cities commuter traffic) you will use 350 calories for the six miles, twice-a-day equals 12 miles bicycled. In two weeks of biking to work you will have used-up 3,500 calories which equals one pound of fat! If you keep your food intake at the same level as usual, in three months of summer bicycling to work you can lose twelve pounds.

If you weigh 155 pounds and pedal at the same 10-12 miles per hour rate you will use 422 calories over the six mile trip to work and home again. The energy used by your body bicycling is determined by how much you weigh and how fast you go.

Don’t runout and pull the dustbunnied cover off of that bicycle just yet. Do the tires still have air in them? Do you have a hand-air-pump? You might have to load the bike in the SUV to take it to the gas station to inflate the tires to the proper air-pressure.

Take a few practice runs around the block to regain your steering-by-leaning in the direction you want to go skills. Try the bike’s brakes gradually, so you don’t head-over the handle bars when making an emergency stop for that kid chasing their ball into the street right in front of you.

If you have a Sunday free before your first work trip, ride the roads to your work-site and make note of the condition of the street surfaces themselves. In California so much much money is spent on “Special Elections”, that could be used to repair the crumbling roads, that the citizens who pay more “sales tax” to the state government as the price of gasoline rises have finally started to complain. Governor S+13’s solution? Hundreds of billions of dollars in bonds, approved by the voters in an election, to raise the money to repair the roads. (Not to mention the hundreds of millions of dollars of interest the taxpayers will have to pay to retire the bonds-over thirty years and the tens of millions in fees the Wall Street Bond Houses will gain for peddling the bonds.) Back to pedalling bicycles, checking the road conditions might lead you to choosing alternate streets for your trip to work.

The major hazard for bicycle riders in traffic lanes? Parked Motorists opening the doors of their vehicle right in front of you. They might check their side mirror before getting out of the car, I do, but I have common sense, most people don’t. You have to keep your head-up, watching where you are going not looking from side to side at the cute girls and guys on the sidewalk. Looking ahead you can watch for brake-lights going off which signals that the driver has finished parking and is ready to exit their vehicle.

The second major hazard is the water-drainage concrete next to the curb where it meets the asphalt roadway that has shrunk and sunk, leaving just enough of a concrete edge that can catch your front tire and catch it, leaving you on the road with torn pants.

A third thing to watch out for is the middle of heavily-traveled lanes that are coated with vehicle crankcase oil. This oil eats into the roads surface creating a substrate that is slick to start with and gets worse with the addition of even the slightest moisture, like morning dew, this will cause the slightest braking effort on your part to cause the wheels to slide-out from under you and leave you on-the-road-again.

I don’t mention these potholes on your road to saving some of that gas money and getting-in-shape at the same time to turn you off from riding a bicycle to work but to encourage you to practice riding and to plan and look at the road ahead.

If you start out pedalling at a moderate rate and give your body a few days to adjust to the new demands you are making on it you can make this summer the first of many to come of riding a bicycle to work and having a happy, not-empty wallet and losing a few pounds in the process.

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