Friday, December 16, 2016

Current Commuting Numbers

I've just wrapped up another semester at work and it's time to look back at how I did on my bike commuting numbers. Overall, there's some good, and some disappointment.

First, I should remind regular readers, or inform new ones, that as a full-time teacher, I mark the passage of a year not from January through December like "normal" people, but from mid-August through May: fall semester, and spring semester.

A morning in August - with a bit of mist over the still-green
 farm fields. 
At the start of this year, I made it my personal goal to ride at least 60 days by winter break and the end of the semester. My all-time record for the same period was 63 days (set last year) and I knew I would be unlikely to beat that, but I wanted to get close. Although I was doing quite well, especially through November and even the first week of December, nasty winter weather hit us suddenly last weekend and has continued through this last week of the semester. We had snow and freezing rain at the start of the week, and single digit temperatures by the end of it. I ended up at 58 days -- so close, yet frustratingly short.

Here's what that translates to:

Riding 58 days works out to a bike-to-work average of about 70%. At 28.5 miles per day, that's 1653 miles ridden in 4½ months of commuting. With an observed average of 30 mpg in my car, and gas prices averaging just over $2.00/gal for the past few months, I estimate a savings of about $115 in fuel costs.

Most of my morning rides start in darkness, but until November
I'll get to see some gorgeous sunrises before I arrive at work.
 By late November, it's dark from start to finish.
My best months were September and November, during which I managed an average of about 80%. I had only driven three times during the course of each of those two months. The worst month was December, which really shouldn't be a surprise, but with the lousy weather and bitter cold of the last week, I only managed 50% for the month.

My goal for the whole year is to reach at least 90 days by Memorial Day and the end of the school year. That would give me a bike-to-work average of about 50% for the whole year. Being nearly ⅔ of the way there at the half-way point of the year sounds great -- I need only 32 more riding days over the next five months. Keep in mind, however, that the reality is not so certain. Remember that three of those months are January, February, and March - which are typically the lousiest months imaginable for riding a bike here in Northeast Ohio. Still, the more days I can ride in the fall semester, the better my odds are for reaching my yearly goal. And while 58 days is not quite where I wanted to be at this point, it's still pretty good for the longer goal.


  1. I have a bike that wears these:

    I wear these:

    and these:

    Did not commute by bike yesterday, but did M-W of this week and heading out for a recreational ride shortly.

  2. Just retired so delving into ancient history. I used to have a 14 mile round trip commute on a rotating shift job here at 56.37 degrees north in Scotland, once or twice each year I was forced to walk because the snow was just too deep or the sheet ice meant that the wind just blew the wheels from under me. Lost track of the number of times that I would cycle to an event to find a cold dark venue because nobody else had even deemed it worth putting the event on because of deep snow!

    I have just done a wee calculation, US gallons are tiny at 4.2 litres, here we pay $5.24 for such a quantity of fuel. I shall not shock you with the cost of the vehicle to put that fuel into...

    1. We are lucky in the US with the cost of gasoline -- too lucky, considering that low fuel costs mean high demand for huge SUVs.

    2. I make it $6.61. Average UK price for 1 litre = £1.268 x 4.2 = £5.325, into dollars = $6.61 (dependent on exchange rate, of course). Either way, it's rather a lot of cash, but not enough to put people off driving. Not sure how high the price will go before commuters would seriously consider cycling to work, or at the very least, car-sharing.

  3. Oh, the weather outside is frightful...

  4. My semester is also coming to an end soon. I didn't keep track of how many days I rode to work, but I am sure that I didn't miss more than a half-dozen days. We were fortunate to have mild weather and infrequent precipitation right up until Thanksgiving (three weeks ago).

    I did miss one day this week: Monday. No, I wasn't hung over: We were experiencing our first seasonably cold weather. Wind and rain (that, for brief interludes, turned to snow) accompanied it. Such a combination of conditions sucked my motivation out of me.

    Coline--I am impressed with your commuting history. A couple of weeks ago, I had my front wheel blown out from under me on the RFK Bridge, just as a younger cyclist on a lighter bike (than my LeTour) passed me. At least he stopped to see if I was OK. (I was.)

    Funny, how we consider $3 for a gallon of gasoline "high". The price was higher in Europe the first time I was there, in 1980!

  5. In Seattle, nobody knows how to drive in snow and ice. On the rare days it happens, I consider it even more imperative to ride because the roads will be completely snarled for cars.

  6. Good numbers, Brooks!

    December hit us like a wall. I'm used to riding without much fuss right up to Christmas/New Year's, but by about the week after Thanksgiving this year, it was too cold and wet and miserable for me to enjoy it.


  7. Like you, I set targets for each month and I also keep an excel file where I enter my results. I've done this for years and often it's looking at the spreadsheet that gets me into overdrive towards the end of the month. Christmas is only eight days away and I'm already ahead for December so I'm closer to the year's goal than I thought I'd be.
    This meticulousness comes from my teaching days - I find that keeping a visual note of my riding activities is a great motivator. BTW, I translate my other activities to riding distance and enter them too. E.g., 5km walking translates to 25km on the bike and a 25 minute Pilates session is equivalent to 10km cycling.
    Love your site and check it on a regular basis.


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