Honor this man, people

September 4, 2007

I’ve bragged mentioned many times that I commute between my home in the city to my job in the burbs. But I have to admit, I have a car, and when the weather is cold or I stay out too late the night before, it’s hard to climb on that bike at 7 in the morning and pedal for 50 minutes straight. Lately I’m only allowed 2 days to commute since I have to drop my kids off at school 3 days a week. School’s been closed the past few weeks so I’ve been riding every day. Been doing it for almost 8 years.

Since I do the reverse commute I pass a few cyclists on their way into the city. Last Thursday there was a record 5 guys coming from Delaware County, not counting the cyclists I pass in the city. I see some of the same guys once in a while, but there’s one dude I pass EVERY DAY. Rain or shine. Coming and going.
For the past 8 years, every time I ride, without a doubt, I pass this older gentleman and we give a pleasant nod.
I do a lot of thinking on that long ride, so I’m always wondering about this mysterious ironman. Where does he ride from? I wonder if he owns a car? Does he know he’s allowed to take his bike on the train if it’s pouring?

So one day last week I figured it was time to stop him and find out.

Turns out that Peter (I think I have his name right!) coincidentally lives in Swarthmore and works in Center City. He’s got college-age kids, so he’s gotta be older than me. He bikes 5 days a week, but admits that he takes a break in some of the winter months when it’s too dark and dangerous to ride after 5 PM.
He seemed just as interested in me, so we chatted a while then parted ways.

But one thing he said kinda provoked me.

He joked that his boss didn’t appreciate his arriving at work all sweaty.

So I did some math and came up with some ammo for Peter to use the next time someone questions his choice:

Peter’s round-trip total is 26 miles. At 5 days a week that’s 524 miles a month! Let’s say he only bikes 8 months out of the year. That’s still a whopping 4,192 miles a year.

If Peter instead drove a car those same days, his commute would be 36 miles a day (the highway route is longer) for a total of 5,760 miles a year.

Then let’s say he drives a midsize car and gets 20 miles per gallon and gas cost an average of $2.75/gallon. Those additional 288 gallons of gas would cost him $792 more a year.

What if he took SEPTA? A monthly pass now costs an outrageous $142.50 a month. For 8 months that equals $1,140 a year.

But why should his boss care that Peter saves enough money a year to put a down payment on a new boat? Because by riding instead of driving, Peter is NOT emitting between 3.3 and 4.3 TONS of CO2 into our atmosphere EACH YEAR.

And I haven’t even mentioned the healthcare-related savings for his company, Re: heart disease, obesity… unless he gets hit by a car, then, well, that’s another story.

Peter, your boss should be thanking you. I know me, my kids and my future grandkids do!



  1. I hate that people hate a man bearing the sweat of honest effort.

  2. Yep! Sounds good to me! The bike rider has it right!

  3. Man, that’s really good…and a great calculation. That’s quite a bike commute you do..I should take that under advisement…if I did that daily I’d be a lot healthier. I was just saying to Charlie that we need to get riding more.

    Say, I’m sorry I was so slow on the draw…I’m an RSS guy..any chance you could run an RSS feed for your site? 😉 It makes for good readership.

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