The Basics and Benefits of Bicycle Commuting

Learn the basics of bicycle commuting and how the average bicycle commuter is healthier, happier and more environmentally friendly than their gas-guzzling counterpart.

| October 24, 2012

In How to Live Well Without Owning a Car (Ten Speed Press, 2006), award-winning journalist Chris Balish exposes the true costs of car ownership and shows how car-free living can put anyone on the path to financial freedom. Read hundreds of tips and success stories from car-free people in cities and suburbs across America. Learn how to live car-free and choose an alternative form of transportation, such as bicycle commuting, in this excerpt taken from Chapter 13, “Bicycling.” 

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: How to Live Well Without Owning a Car.

Despite what $20 billion of automobile advertising every year would have us all believe, buying or leasing a car, truck, or SUV is the worst financial move most people make in their lifetime. And they make this mistake again and again, at a cost of literally hundreds of thousands of dollars. Cars devour cash, increase debt, reduce savings, and make financial freedom difficult to achieve.

You can live a full, active life without owning a car. And without a car to pay for, practically anyone can get out of debt, save money, and achieve financial freedom. The truth is that tens of millions of working Americans do not need to own a car. If you can get to work reliably without a car, you don’t need to own one.

Are there exceptions? Sure, plenty. Families with children may find it difficult, though not impossible, to live car-free. Outside sales representatives who use their cars to make sales calls would have a hard time not owning one. Construction workers who haul heavy tools need their pickup trucks. People who live in rural areas not served by public transit might find car-free living difficult. And anyone with special medical needs or demanding family responsibilities probably needs to own a car.

There’s no doubt that cars, trucks, and SUVs are useful tools. They provide instant, on-demand transportation at a moment’s notice. They can haul heavy loads and help you run errands. And they can whisk you out of town for a weekend away. I do not suggest that you never use a car or never ride in one. I simply argue that millions of Americans can get along just fine and save a fortune by not owning a car. The few times a year when you do need one you can rent or use car sharing.

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