The Expected Price of Biking to Work this Summer

The costs of commuting by cycle

Easy Rider

I started a new job in October, on the 42nd floor of a shiny new building in lower Manhattan, and I’ve been riding my bike to work nearly every day since I started, save for a couple weeks in February when it was prohibitively cold. Biking through the winter cost me:

  • $20 for one month of a Planet Fitness membership, including the $10 join fee
  • ~$55 in subway fare. That’s $2.75 x 10 rides, not discounting the bonus fare and the fact that I pay for transit pre-tax, thanks to WageWorks
  • $15 for merino wool sport scarf thing to cover my face
  • $12 for a pair of emergency fleece-lined leggings to wear on the ride home one day that was colder than I wanted it to be

Now summer approaches, and I’m trying to anticipate the drastic temperature difference between the rapidly warming outside and the soon-to-be-freezing inside. (I’ve been warned.) My plan is to start biking to work in shorts and a t-shirt instead of my work clothes, and pack a dress to change into once I get to the workplace. I will also keep a few things at the office to aid a daily transition from grubby bike girl to professional office lady.

Here is what I’ve spent so far:

  • $8: 4 pairs of tights at the Housing Works Thrift Shop (new! In packages!) at $2 each.
  • $15: A drapey cardigan at Ann Taylor Loft, where everything on the sale rack was an extra 50% off the other day. In all honesty, I could have re-purposed a home cardigan into a workplace cardigan, but grad school put holes in a lot of their elbows and I could use something new.
  • $4.29: A stick of Tom’s of Maine calendula-scented deodorant.

I should probably also buy something like Action Wipes, but I’m holding off on that for now. I know I need more, though. Including:

  • A bike tune-up and a new set of tires. That will probably cost $225, all in.

Which, because my bike shop of choice is also a bar and café, means I will also purchase:

  • a beer and an empanada: $12.

That brings the anticipated monetary costs of summer biking to work to $263.29.

I have biked to other jobs in the summer in the past, but none of them has been in workplaces as office-y and professional as this one. I biked when I ran a computer lab at a university Ag Sci department. My coworkers were programmers in cut-offs, and there were very few students or faculty around in the summer anyway. I biked when I made publications for a documentary film festival. For a few days I was even downgraded to office courier, riding around town dropping off the publications and other materials to the hotels where the delegates from BBC and Animal Planet were staying.

And I biked when I taught summer classes at Columbia but always had plenty of time to get iced coffee, wander around campus to cool off. Anyway, I was happy to rock that charming disheveled professor thing.

Even though my current place of employment is much more formal — we actually have a written dress code, despite the NYT’s assertion of their waning popularity — I don’t foresee any problems with my plan. There are a few guys in my unit who bike regularly, and they seem to change into work clothes upon their arrival year-round. I suppose they bike harder and get sweatier than I do in the non-summer months. More importantly, when I glance around the office it’s clear that even though a dress code can dictate the items one wears, there is huge variety in the way people actually look. Some folks in button downs and man-pants look very tidy and fashionable, while others clearly care less about the fit of their clothes or the quality of the fabric, and that’s fine! So, with my new cardigan and drawer of tights and the pair of fancy lady heels I’ve stashed under my desk for days that I just want to cycle in sneakers, I think I’m going to be alright.

Dory Thrasher has a PhD in Urban Planning and works as a Data Analyst for the New York City Department of Social Services. She makes quilts, reads books, yells about inequality, and runs marathons. She lives in Brooklyn (of course).

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