Summer is in full swing, so winter excuses be damned. We issue readers a challenge: Make it a point to run a few errands per week on your bike (or, decide that you will run errands by bicycle two to four days per week). Put a cyclocomputer on your ride and use it only when you are running errands or riding your bicycle when you otherwise might have driven (like to the store, the dog park, the doctor, a friend’s house for a potluck, the corner market, heck–even the DMV). One good way to really get into this is to buy a cyclocomputer for an enthusiastic (noncompetitive) friend and issue them the same challenge. You will find yourselves comparing mileage quite often; and the success of one rider will often inspire the other to ride more often. A friendly rivalry will develop. Actually, it is less of a rivalry–more of a support network. Like two friends quitting smoking together–except in this case, smoking = driving.
Back to the point. Most middle aged, non fitness cyclist riders in hilly country like central Virginia average about 9 to 10 miles per hour, whether laden with groceries or not. Rider/commuters in flat areas average much more–like 14 mph. During rush hour in Charlottesville, VA, a bicycle commuter can easily do a 6 mile round trip errand in about the same time as a car (sometimes much faster, sometimes just a little slower–that depends on what part of town you live in and where you are going).
At the end of each month, catalog your bicycling miles and do the math on how much money you have saved by cycling. Earmark the money and do what you want with it, rejoicing that you did not spend it on gas (like put it in the bank/retirement account, or in the vacation fund, or buy some fancy beer, or save up for that tattoo you always wanted, or treat your partner to a nice dinner (you can save even more money by making that dinner yourself)).
It should be noted that errands are done best on a bike with rear rack + bungee cords &/or rack + bags &/or rack + milk crate, or front basket. Rider-worn backpacks work fine, but your shoulders will be bent out of shape after a few miles. Truth be told, fenders are a plus, too, since many of us live in sudden (and brief) thunder storm territory. They are light and affordable these days, and once you put them on your bike, you will wonder why you didn’t put them on sooner. Again, they are light these days. Proof: hold your bike in your hands and stand on a scale (note weight); next, hold your bike, stand on a scale, and sling a package of fenders over your shoulder. Note the difference in total weight. Do a percentage difference calculation, even. See what we mean? They are light, and you will find yourself riding in all weather and remaining clean while doing so.
Send us your monthly data and we will happily publish it.