Has the economy affected your bike commuting?

I was laid off almost two years ago, luckily, I found a job within two weeks. However, my new job was located 37 miles away (one way) making commuting on bike extremely difficult. I considered multi-modal commuting, but the transit system in LA really blows. It would have taken me two hours to get to work! That basically left me with using my bike to run errands and recreational riding.

I ended up switching jobs again putting me in a position to dust off my trusty commuter bike and start hitting the roads of Orange county. I’m planning to start riding once there is enough light for me to ride safely during the evening. My commute will involve riding the Santa Ana river trail and I’m guesstimating that I will save at least 15 minutes and lots of aggravation.

So I’m wondering if this economy affected your bike commuting, are your riding less? Or are you riding more since it is cheaper to ride a bike? If you had a car, would you consider riding your bike up to an interview? Did you have to get rid of any bikes since times are hard? Please share your story by leaving a comment.


  1. Steve A January 18, 2010 4:19 am 

    Out of curiosity, why is it unsafe to commute in the evenings this time of year? It seems that gas savings would more than justify light.

  2. Ghost Rider January 18, 2010 5:34 am 

    Isn’t the Santa Ana River trail one of the ones plagued with crime? Seems like I just read something about this…hooligans loose upon the trail and such.

  3. David January 18, 2010 7:15 am 

    I’m riding as often as before, but a 10 mile commute in London doesn’t quite compare to a 37 mile trek across southern California.

    Not sure I’d consider cycling to an interview, but would certainly ask about the cycling facilities at the interview.

  4. Moe January 18, 2010 7:33 am 

    The river trails are big magnets for homeless, hooligans and gangs. Not a good place to ride during the dark.

  5. TStevens January 18, 2010 8:12 am 

    Since I am only 2 miles from work I feel kind of bad if used my truck. I am fully committed to the winter commute this year though (Minnesota) as we have two 10 year old vehicles and we want to switch to one newer car. To do so that means I have to be able to commute year round and this winter is the one where I prove it to myself.

  6. Guy January 18, 2010 9:31 am 

    I’m lucky to still be working and only 3 miles from work. However, I have to ferry two kids to school so I’m multi model with the family van and biking the last mile or so to work from the last school drop off point. I have to make X miles from one schoool to the other.

  7. Ghost Rider January 18, 2010 9:52 am 

    The economy has affected my commute…I got laid off and then nearly immediately rehired, which changed my schedule considerably. The distance is the same as is the frequency, but now I don’t have to ride home in the pitch-black! Too bad I invested hundreds of dollars in nighttime lighting systems…

    My daytime routine changed, too…but not because of the economy. We had another child during the holidays, and now I have difficulty taking my older child to school via bike. When the little one is old enough for a helmet (or at least to hold his head up on his own), we’ll be able to trailer or iBert him to and fro along with his older brother.

  8. Rob January 18, 2010 10:12 am 

    The economy hasn’t really done in my bike commute, but the winter sure has.

    The limestone trails I used in the summer are under 6 inches of snow, which means riding on the pavement. It’s not something I appreciate doing for 9 miles in the icy darkness.

    As the sun sets later and later, though, I’ll start feeling much more comfortable riding in traffic.

  9. Radu S January 18, 2010 10:27 am 

    I actually biked my way to an interview. If I’d chosen the car I would have most certainly been late, so I had to risk showing up all sweaty, but hey, better than late. I would do it again, that’s for sure, you arrive all pumped up and energized.

  10. Dee January 18, 2010 11:03 am 

    I bike commute pretty much all the time in St. Louis, even during winter. I use studded snow tires then. I have a truck, but seldom drive it because it isn’t my habit to drive. I’d commute to an interview by bike, sure. I wouldn’t think twice about it, in fact… but then again I’m a paramedic so most people hiring medics aren’t too concerned with suits and skirts and stuff like that. Flash your license at the door and they ask if you can work that day, sometimes. I wish more people bike commuted, that’s for sure.

  11. Noah January 18, 2010 11:28 am 

    I got laid off a little more than a week ago, so I am not commuting at all right now. I am still doing errands by bike, though. Someone want to hire an information security ninja?

  12. no1mad January 18, 2010 8:30 pm 

    I’ve only been doing recreational and utility riding so far, since my commute would just be too long (26 miles one way). Wife has been dropping me off at the bus station on her way to work. But that is about to change.
    Due to a massive road construction project on the local highways, the wife wants to take a different route to avoid that mess- that would mean going out of her way to drop me off. So I proposed getting a carrier for the car, and taking the bike. The average time will probably be about the same, but now it will be a lot more flexible.
    As far as biking to an interview, I don’t see a problem. When I was younger, I didn’t have a car or a bike, and walked 1.5 miles everyday for work. When asked, I told them I knew the time requirement to walk (and to drive- later), but didn’t know how late I’d be due to mechanical breakdown/flat-tire…

  13. Tracy January 18, 2010 10:38 pm 

    My wife recently returned to work since my company is slowly going out of business. While, I’m still employed, I take the kids to school in the morning. Unfortunately, I’m using a car instead of a bike now due to the extra distance, time and passengers. I can’t wait to be in a situation where I can ride to work again.

  14. Iron_Man January 19, 2010 8:36 am 

    The lousy job market hasn’t been a problem for me as I’ve been at the same job now for close to 12 years. I do rely on a little freelance work (I’m a graphic artist) to supplement my income, and that has taken a hit. I started riding back in 2004 and at that time it was all about fun. Finances weren’t an issue as my wife worked as well as I and freelance was good. Then we had the first of two kids and we made the decision for my wife to quit work and become a stay-at-home mom. She’s also a graphic artist and freelances when she can. Since ’04 our finances have shrunken considerably, especially taking a freelance hit in the past two years. Combined with the high price of gas, which has not returned to pre-2008 levels my bike commuting has become an economic solution. What was once a decision made based on fun and freedom, has become a bit tainted by economic necessity. I still love to ride, but sometimes feel like it’s not the “free choice” it once was and thus has spoiled the experience a little. There are so many good reasons to ride, that negatives are outweighed, but a negative can still mess with your head from time to time.

  15. BluesCat January 19, 2010 9:23 am 

    I’ve been lucky (knock on wood) that I’ve kept my job through this particular downturn.

    I’ve worked for this company for almost 14 years, and I used to do some network administration for external clients as a sort of sideline for them. I needed my car to run around for servicing those clients, but since the recession hit virtually all of that work has dried up. So, in a way, the recession has actually been beneficial to my bike commuting since I’m not using the car that much.

    Lately, though, a problem with one of our elderly pets has prevented me from bike commuting since I need the car to run home during the day to check on him.

  16. dman January 19, 2010 11:54 am 

    Yep. I use to work 8 miles from my apartment, but in the last year I’ve worked for 3 different employers. At one point I too was 37 miles away, now I’m down to 31 miles. I don’t ride the bike. Working 10hr days doesn’t leave me time for a 2+ hour commute each way. I miss it.

  17. Gerry January 19, 2010 12:16 pm 

    I’m just two miles from work. I used to actually drive. Wasted more gas just starting the car. Noticed more people starting to do the same thing in the industrial park where I work. Just throw stuff in my bags and off I go.
    I have so many bags. Got to sell some. If anyone is interested in a Chrome Citizen messenger bag I have two I’m selling. They are only a few months old. Can be contacted at franktino@yahoo.com.

  18. Jamey January 19, 2010 1:36 pm 

    I live in NNJ and work in Manhattan. I lost my gig exactly a year ago to this date and got my current job in August of ’09–my new office is approx 25 blocks south of my old one. I commute all days when the roads are clear of ice and snow. I had a Bike Friday I used to take into my office (German-owned company); my current employer won’t allow this, but they do provide a secure bike paddock–so I ride an old hybrid I’ve converted to a cross-bike. The missus has a home-based PR business; she walks the kids to school.

    Thankfully, little has changed. But then, that’s why I moved to a walking town within biking distance of NYC. I consider myself very fortunate, and support alt trans organizations in the hope they will help break down obstacles that prevent my millions of neighbors from cycling at least part of the way to and from work.

    I waited till the offer phase to broach the topic of cycle commuting. I fear that dressing like the guy who rides twelve miles each way to work caused my career to hit what I call, ” The Spandex Ceiling.” Now I try to keep my cycling ways on the down-low…

  19. 2whls3spds January 19, 2010 6:31 pm 

    I still have my job, same basic one for the past 14 years. Seems hours are longer and we are traveling more. Current location is not cycle commutable (have to drag non driving crew members to work :-( ) But should be heading back to a bike commutable job in the early summer at least for a few weeks. Then only time will tell. I still strive to be as car light as possible; take Amtrak home on weekends, when I go out and about the bicycle sitting in my motel room is my first choice of transportation. Overall driving mileage is down for 2009 from 2008 by about 12,000 business miles, even with more out of state jobs. Personal yearly vehicle mileage is about the same at 4,000 or so. Cycling miles are still about the same at 3,000.


  20. Doug Jesseph January 20, 2010 7:33 am 

    I’m a tenured professor at a state university, which makes my job fairly recession proof. I commute approx. 16 miles round trip to work, and in Florida that’s a 12 month proposition. One telltale sign of the current economic mess is the percentage of truly beat up cars I see on the road. There are always a few automotive basket cases out there, but even in the face of “cash for clunkers” I’ve noticed a steady increase in the number of truly distressed cars limping along the road.

  21. Kathleen McDade January 20, 2010 11:20 am 

    I’m cycling more. I likely would have done so anyway, but gas prices/economic situation makes it that much more imperative.

    I *have* ridden to an interview. :-) I didn’t get the job, but had decided didn’t really want it anyway. I don’t see any problem with it — better that they know who I really am.

  22. Elisa M January 21, 2010 9:34 pm 

    I was laid off and can now work from home, which is really nice…except that I miss my 10 miles each way daily bike rides. Sure I could still ride 20 miles a day, but having to do it was the best motivation there is! However, my new position requires me to meet folks all over town, so I still get to do my fair share of riding (plus sometimes I pick a coffee shop far away to work just for more riding time!)

  23. Duncan January 22, 2010 4:02 pm 

    While I don’t believe it was a direct result of the economy, I’ve been cycling a lot more. To ease spending I ditched my car and starting using public transit. 2 hours each way was just too much. So, I tried out my bike. I could cover the same distance in half the time. Sure, an hour bike commute is pretty long, but the money I saved without having my car and without having to take transit was amazing. Luckily, my job has been secure and so has my pay, but, taking a bike to work has changed my life in the best possible way.

  24. Andrew January 22, 2010 6:56 pm 

    I wish I could commute by bike, but right now, I work 3:00 p., to 11:30 p.m., and a ride home in the dark would get me killed. Too many drunks on narrow country roads right now. :( I’m hoping to move to Oregon this year, and I hear they’re much more bike friendly then here in the oil-ladden Midwest!

  25. Carl January 24, 2010 6:12 pm 

    After two years of commuting via the 20 mi long middle section of the SART, I have yet to have any “personal security incident”. The homeless are not friendly, but don’t initiate any contact either. Haven’t even seen any “gang members” or “hooligans”. Much of my ride is during darkness, except after time change. The ride is dicey only when I am on city streets.

  26. Rob May 3, 2010 4:26 pm 

    commuting on bike from Enfield to London which is 11 miles one way

  27. Dave Cherling August 22, 2010 2:18 pm 

    Yes it has. I haven’t got a job anymore and have started my own bike business with about $200.

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