Cybernaut 

Rethinking your commute

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Snow is at last clearing in the valley, and while it’s still a little on the cool side for some people, bikes are making their annual reappearance on our roads and trails.

Before I moved to Spring Creek last September, I used to commute daily to Function Junction from my previous residence in White Gold — a round trip distance of about 16 km, depending on what route I took, and it would take me about 25 minutes each way at a moderate pace on my hard tail mountain bike. I could have shaved off five to 10 minutes if I switched to slick tires, replaced my big ring, or bought a road bike, but I liked having to work a little harder to get from A to B, and the ability to make a few side trips through the woods on my way home.

Getting on that bike was often the best part of my day, with huge physical and mental benefits. I loved the views, the fresh air, the rush of ripping downhill at top speed and cutting 90 degree corners by leaning into turns, and seeing how high I could ollie off the bumps and rocks on the backroad to Function Junction. I even liked climbing, and seeing how quickly I could get to the top of each hill. The daily commute was so enjoyable that I was often sorry to get to my destination, always wishing the ride was just a little bit longer.

With gas prices now firmly lodged in the dollar-a-litre range, and usually higher, there is also a rock solid financial reason to commute by bicycle. You may need a car sometimes, and have to pay for the upkeep and insurance anyway, but that still doesn’t justify driving everywhere when cycling is a viable alternative.

Say you drive just 20 km a day, to work in the village and back, making a few errands along the way. For example, if you drive a new model minivan which gets between 19 and 26 miles per gallon ( www.epa.gov/greenvehicle ) on average — the equivalent of 30.59 km and 41.86 km per every 3.54 litres — you get between 8.64 and 11.82 km per litre. Therefore driving 20 km a day, at the current 1.05 per litre, will cost you $1.77 to $2.43 a day. When you include the time you spend idling, parking, and the costs of maintenance — about $800 to $900 on average a year according to BikesAtWork.com — the cost of driving could jump to over $5 a day just to get to work and back.

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