Top 5 Reasons to Ride a Bike

When was the last time you hopped on a bike?

If that answer involves a reverie of mini-you waving from a plastic Hot Wheels trike, it’s time for grown-up you to have an adventure.

Especially if that adventure is also the ideal way to commute.

Here are 5 excellent reasons to grab your Huffy and start pedaling:

Reason #1 to ride a bike:  firm thighs

When you ride, your pants will fit better. And you might even need new pants … smaller pants.

While that’s good news for your wardrobe (and ego), it’s excellent news for your health. With our increasingly sedentary modern life, the average American sits at least 8 hours a day — if not more. That might sound lazy and awesome, but the truth is all that inactivity wreaks havoc on our blood sugar and triglyceride levels, priming our bodies for potential struggles with heart disease, depression, and cancer.

But what if you don’t have the time or energy to exercise during an exhausting day of screaming bosses and wailing kiddos? Well, here’s your 2-birds-1-stone solution: bike to work. Just 30 minutes of light cycling (a quick 10 mph ride to the grocery store) can burn off that bagel and cream cheese you ate for breakfast and give you a sanity break from the Terrible 2s.

It’s a stress-reliever and money-saver combined (and it’ll give you thighs that would send Heidi Klum crying to the cookie jar).

Reason #2 to ride a bike: you get to put your money where your mouth is … or wherever you’d like

Other than said new, smaller pants, the daily cost of biking is almost nothing.

Riding a bike helps you save money. A lot of money — and not just on gas. For example, if you biked to work in San Francisco every day for 5 days, you could cut back on all sorts of expenses:

  • Latte (since riding will give you a natural energy boost): $3.69/day = $18.45 a week
  • Gym membership: $94/month = $23 a week
  • Parking: $20/day for a city parking spot = $100 a week
  • Gas: currently around $4 per gallon … for a small SF-style 12-gallon car = $48 a week

Total weekly savings: $189.45 (!)

And if you already have renters insurance, you can protect your bike by adding it to your policy.

Getting set up doesn’t have to be expensive either. Contrary to what you may see out there, you really only need the bike, a helmet, a good lock, and 2 lights (front and back). Purchasing everything secondhand will save you money and won’t contribute any new pollutants to the atmosphere (via the production of new parts).

If you need to brush up on biking laws, or simply want a venue to show off those new pants, check out your local bicycle coalition for free safety workshops and bike maps.

Reason #3 to ride a bike: so you can do something nice for your mama

Mother Earth is stressed out. So why not get on her good side and run your errands on 2 wheels instead of 4? True, some people live where biking to work isn’t always a realistic option. But if you can’t be a weekday warrior, be a weekend warrior … or a whenever-you-can warrior.

By pedaling every Saturday and Sunday, for example, you could save 2 tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year. It’s an easy change: You and your friends could bike to brunch. Or you could bike as a family to the playground.

Plus, riding a bike doesn’t add pollutants, like carbon monoxide or nitrogen oxides, to our damaged atmosphere and doesn’t intensify the already-dangerous level of greenhouse gases making Earth overheat.

For those of us who have the choice to bike or drive, why not make your mama proud? (Note: every time you ride a bike, it’s like giving Mother Earth a gift card to the spa.)

Reason #4 to ride a bike: you never ever have to take public transportation again

Let’s not mince words here: Have you taken public transportation lately? Not that relaxing Sunday jaunt to the local food truck festival. I’m talking 40 solid minutes of hand-gripping public discomfort, unexplained aromas, a conversation the entire bus can’t help but become emotionally involved in (“Diane, you didn’t!”). Five days a week. Twice a day. (I’m getting anxious just typing this.)

Public transportation brings out the worst in everyone. But biking means never questioning why that seat is wet — or finding out the hard way. Never watching the estimated bus arrival time extend by another 18 minutes. And never, ever feeling your blood pressure skyrocket during that biweekly mechanical delay (I’m looking at you, N-Judah).

If you enjoy starting your day nestled in a stranger’s armpit, then the bus is your chariot.

But for the rest of us, we’ve got our bikes.

Reason #5 to ride a bike: you can stop playing video games … and be the game

Yes, some rides can feel like a game of Paperboy. You’ll have to watch for lunging dogs, car doors that suddenly swing open, maybe (if you’re lucky) break dancers. And if you’re rushing, you could arrive at work looking like an extra from Flashdance (just tote your work clothes with you in a backpack and change in the restroom).

But those irritations are fleeting. What your Xbox doesn’t have is that moment when the glittering skyline stretches in front of you, the part of your ride where you catch the tail end of a crazy orange sunset, or that detour through the park where you can inhale the eucalyptus. You’ll feel the cool evening air against your face, smell those fresh morning doughnuts from the bakery.

You’ll have a real-life adventure.

Enjoy the ride.

Top 5 Reasons to Walk

We’ve heard from Esurance bloggers touting the value of driving and taking public transportation. But how about the method of locomotion so ingenious Mother Nature built it into us?

Being sticklers for detail, here are our top 5 reasons to walk. Read up, and you might be inspired to leave the car keys on the nightstand, the bike in the rack, and the bus fare at home.

1. Walking is an (easy and) excellent way to exercise

Unless you’ve been vacationing on Mars for the past several decades, you’ve heard all about the health benefits of hoofing it. But in case you’re not yet convinced, let’s review these great reasons to walk.

First, it’s easy. Your body intrinsically knows how to do it, so it takes no practice. Plus it’s low-impact — meaning it doesn’t unduly stress your joints and muscles, reducing the possibility of injury. Finally, it’s pretty safe … as long as you don’t stroll along the highway.

And it’s good for you! The Mayo Clinic states that walking can help you:

  • Lower your “bad” cholesterol (or low-density lipoprotein [LDL] cholesterol)
  • Raise your “good” cholesterol (or high-density lipoprotein [HDL] cholesterol)
  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes or help manage it
  • Keep your weight down
  • Lift your mood
  • Stay fit as a fiddle

Oh, and if you’re a smoker, walking can help you quit smoking.

2. Walking relieves stress

This may be one of the best reasons to walk. According to a study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, those who walk regularly (in conjunction with other easy to moderately difficult exercises) have lower stress levels than both layabouts and hardcore exercisers. And the magazine Prevention claims that a “brisk” 20- to 30-minute walk can have the same calming effect as a mild tranquilizer(!).

But beyond the quantifiable benefits, walking also gives you a great chance to think about your life, put your problems in perspective, and get up close and personal with your environment, whether that’s in the lush beauty of nature or the more human marvel of the urban. And re-centering is an undeniably good thing.

3. Walking’s the greenest way to get around

While people often tout the environmental benefits of public transportation, no mode of locomotion beats walking for eco-consciousness. Granted, public transit saves about 1.4 billion gallons of gas annually, which translates into about 14 million tons of CO2. But even busses and many commuter trains emit greenhouse gases. And biking, which comes a close second, requires the use of petroleum to manufacture the tires, grips, cable housings, and even some pedals and saddles.

And while your body may emit the occasional gas, it’s not the sort that’s doing (much) harm to the atmosphere.

4. Walking can help you get to know your neighborhood

Many of us feel like the modern lifestyle — with its glut of easily accessible info, constant communication, breakneck speed, and “social networks” — has left us all a bit more alienated than we’d like. Sometimes, we don’t even know our neighbors or local businesses. Just the other day, in fact, I decided to go for a walk and discovered — after nearly a year in my current neighborhood — a long, creek-side park just a block from my front door!

Driving leaves you isolated in a speeding metal box. And public transportation seems to have an unwritten rule that people don’t interact unless they know each other. But a simple stroll down the street brings you face-to-face with neighbors and local business owners, affording you a chance to offer the kind smile and “Hello” that could be the start of a great friendship.

5. Walking can help you discover local history

Going a bit deeper than discovering new people, places, and things to do, walking can also help you experience the rich history all around us. After all, the bronze plaques that often share this knowledge with the world are tough to digest while you’re whizzing by at 60 mph. For instance, I recently discovered that our headquarters stands across the street from the pier that the Pony Express used to deliver mail across the West Coast.

And if you’re not the type to wander and wait for happenstance to bring you a slice of local history, try Niantic Labs’ FieldTrip, a location-based Android app that provides rich historical details about the places around you. (Sorry iOS users — your version of the app is still in the works.)

Walking’s simply the greatest way to get around

Granted, a Sunday stroll won’t get you on your way to your next vacation, or help you make it to work when you’re running late. It’s just not an efficient way to travel long distances.

But no other mode of locomotion gets you out into the world, helps you stay healthy and happy, and keeps you informed quite like the good ole leisurely amble. The reasons to walk are all around you, so get out there and enjoy yourself!

Related articles

I know I said walking takes no practice, but if you want to do it perfectly, follow these instructions on how to walk.

Now that you know our top 5 reasons to walk, keep the debate going by reading other Esurance bloggers’ takes on the:


Top 5 Reasons to Take Public Transportation

As a born-and-raised Los Angeleno, I practically grew up in a car. Plans were scheduled around rush hour traffic, and “taking the back way” was considered the only way.

But when I moved to San Francisco, I was introduced to an entirely new world — a world in which my commute time never varies and rush hour simply means enhanced people watching. I’m talking, of course, about public transportation.

Besides the obvious perk of getting to play the “What’s That Smell?” game every day, here are the top 5 reasons for taking public transportation.

1. I enjoy uninterrupted “me” time

I’m the first to admit that I’m a bit selfish with my time. But between work, family, and my bountiful social calendar (Esurance writers are very social), it’s hard to find time to hunker down with a good book. Unless, of course, I have no choice.

My commute provides me with an hour of unadulterated reading time 5 days a week. I plow through novels, daydream, or sometimes just catch a few extra z’s. I couldn’t do any of those things behind the wheel (at least not safely).

2. I get to people watch

Public transportation is like a sociology experiment gone wrong (or oh so right). What happens when you put hundreds of people from all walks of life together in close quarters? Well, usually nothing. But it does make for some great people watching … just don’t make eye contact! Plus, it’s really fun to eavesdrop and create backstories for other riders.

3. I save money

If you live in a city that charges around $4 a gallon for gas and about $20 a day for parking, you too might appreciate the money-saving advantage of public transportation. Sure, it’s not free, but for under $10 a day, I get to and from my destination safely and on time. Plus, I put so few annual miles on my car that I actually qualify for a car insurance discount!

4. I save time and hassle

“Save time?” you ask. Yes, it actually takes longer to drive to work during rush hour than it does to take the train. And I don’t have the aggravation of stop-and-go traffic, the anxiety over getting rear-ended, or the frustration of finding a parking place. (Though I will admit to a flash of frenzy when my favorite seats on the train have been taken.)

5. I help the environment

I’ve got to say it’s pretty awesome to be able to gloat about my greenness. “Oh, I just saved 18 pounds of CO2 emissions today. What did you do?” But in all seriousness, the average commuter emits close to 13,000 pounds of CO2 per year. By choosing the train instead of the car, I keep my annual car emissions around 2,100 pounds. You’re welcome, future Earth inhabitants.

I know not everyone has the option to take public transportation, but if you do, give it a shot. You may just save time, hassle, and money. (Is it just me or do public transportation and Esurance have a lot in common?)

If you don’t have public transportation available in your area, try carpooling. You can still hit items 3, 4, and 5 on my Top 5 Reasons list (and get all your extra “me” time on the days you don’t drive).

Related links

Top 5 Reasons Not to Drive
Top 5 Reasons to Drive an Automatic Car
Top 5 Reasons to Choose a Stick Shift
Top 5 Reasons to Walk

Top 5 Reasons Not to Drive

Here’s my dirty little secret: I don’t drive. And I have good reasons not to drive.

First of all, I’m petite. I can barely see over the steering wheel. I have to scoot my chair all the way up just to reach the pedals. And I’m awful at parallel parking.

But these aren’t my biggest  reasons for not driving. I abstain from driving because I can save quite a bit — among other great benefits.

1. I save (lotsa) money

Cars are expensive. Even the most modest, no-frills sedan costs more than $10,000 if you get a new one. Add in taxes, financing fees, registration, gas, maintenance, and insurance and you can see how expensive car ownership can be.

In fact, according to AAA, if you drive a small sedan 15,000 miles a year, it’ll cost you $6,735 per year on average — or about 44.9 cents per mile. And that’s on the lowest end of the spectrum. Those who drive midsize sedans shell out nearly $9,000, while SUV owners spend about $11,360.

All of that money can be better spent — on shoes, for example. That right there is one of my most compelling reasons not to drive.

2. I save the environment

The average driver adds about 13,000 pounds of CO2 to our atmosphere per year, which isn’t great for our planet. But there are many other environmental reasons not to drive.

Producing cars takes tons of energy and resources. Think of all that steel, plastic, rubber, and paint. And once they become unusable, they have to be disposed of eventually. Sure, 75 percent of the modern automobile can be recycled, but that still leaves a huge portion to rust quietly in landfills.

3. I save my sanity

Driving is stressful. There’s traffic. There are people who cut you off, don’t signal, or follow too closely (which can lead to road rage). There’s the constant need to pay strict attention, the unpredictability of the road, the risk of accidents.

So, thanks, but no thanks. I’d rather keep my sanity and take in the scenery, nap, or read.

4. I save my waistline

Though driving gives you the power to be incredibly mobile, it also (ironically enough) immobilizes you. Driving, after all, is a sedentary act. And with its door-to-door convenience, it also means that you take fewer steps in a day and burn fewer calories than someone who walks, bikes, or takes public transit to work.

And research backs this up. A new study by the University of Illinois suggests that the less we drive, the lower our body mass index (BMI). According to researchers, if all adults drove one mile less per day, we could lower the national average BMI by 0.21 kg/m2 in 6 years.

Sure, that stat may not mean much at first glance. But when you consider the fact that eating 100 calories less per day lowers BMI by 0.16 kg/m2 after 3 years, you can see that driving less is the same as dieting (which is great for someone like me who eats 6 times a day).

5. I save my relationship

Think about it. A richer, greener, saner, slimmer me can only spell good things for my significant other.

And as the designated copilot, I can help him do everything from input directions in the GPS to ask for directions if it leads us astray.

So despite all the hype behind driving (a stick or automatic), I have lots of reasons not to drive.  I think I’ll be a passenger, public transit rider, and pedestrian for life.

Top 5 Reasons to Drive an Automatic Car

I’ve been driving for 14 years now: 7 years with a stick shift, and another 7 with an automatic. I’ve seen both sides of the rainbow and can tell you where the gold lies. Before you shop for that next car or praise the merits of manual, consider these 5 reasons to stick with an automatic transmission.

Reason #1 to drive an automatic: they’re easy

Automatics are easy … and easy is good.

Why hand-wash your dishes when you have a perfectly good dishwasher? “Let me make your life a little easier,” the dishwasher says. “Go finish watching Weekend at Bernie’s. I’ve got these dirty plates.”

Automatic transmissions are no different. “Let me free up that right hand for better steering and radio-station-finding,” it says. “I’ll take care of these dirty gear ratios.”

While there’s undeniable allure to the old-fashioned stick shift, the automatic transmission makes our driving lives easier and reduces accident risks by lowering the degree of driving difficulty. Consider uphill stoplights, many of which can be found in Esurance’s Bay Area backyard. Navigating these stop-and-start scenarios in a manual without burning out the clutch or bumping into the car behind you is a significant challenge.

But not with an automatic. “Don’t worry, old buddy,” it says. “I won’t let us roll backward, ever. You just keep being you.”

Reason #2 to drive an automatic: you’re older now

Let’s get this out of the way, hot shot. That manual transmission you drove in college was cool at the time. (Cut to my 2 old Jettas nodding in agreement — or trying to nod before suffering spectacular electrical failure.) It was cool to downshift into third and slam the accelerator to pass a meandering slowpoke. It was cool to use your gears as a braking device while maintaining eye contact with your passengers.

But do you know what’s cool now? Paying your bills on time. Enjoying a nice, warm cup of tea when the weather turns. A good book. Not rolling into cars driven by people you’ve never met.

Thanks to my Mazda’s automatic transmission, I never rolled into another car in 4 years of San Francisco driving. Whether we were on a slight incline or a right angle, I knew my car wouldn’t dream of it.

Reason #3 to drive an automatic: technological innovation is good (in this case, anyway)

Automatic transmissions are a modern marvel that we take for granted. First developed by General Motors in the 1930s and “battle-tested” in American tanks during World War II, the earliest automatic was an instant sensation when it debuted for the masses in the 1940 Oldsmobile Hydra-Matic. As the legend goes, its pamphlet featured just 3 directions:

  • Start the engine
  • Select your direction
  • Step on the gas

How great is that?

Don’t get me wrong here — I get the retro thing and the importance of giving past technologies their due. If you stick to a manual to pay homage to our driving heritage, I can respect that.

If, on the other hand, you’re stuck on the stick because you think it’s a better way to drive, you may be watching the proverbial VHS cassette. Early consumer gripes about automatic’s slower response times, poor gas mileage, and higher maintenance costs are increasingly outdated thanks to 70+ years of technological progress.

Technology is helpful. Embrace it. And if you’re into the myth-busting thing, check out this article courtesy of 5 Myths About Stick Shifts.

Reason #4 to drive an automatic: it gives you more options

While the stick shift is experiencing a surge in popularity, automatic transmissions dominate the U.S. car market. A USA Today article from 2012 reported that just 19 percent of new vehicles on the market offered standard transmissions. So if you’re shopping for a new car or truck, the vast majority of your options will have automatic transmissions.

And don’t fall for old stereotypes (which were once true) about mpg and speed. The average automatic’s fuel economy isn’t nearly as deficient as it used to be. As another USA Today article pointed out, “Today’s automatics are now so sophisticated that they routinely best manuals on gas mileage.” The difference remains negligible in many of today’s models, such as the 2013 Mazda 3. The 2.0 liter automatic edition gets an average of 27 mpg while the 5-speed manual gets 28 (you can easily check your car’s mpg and compare it with others’ at

When it comes to speed, manual transmissions aren’t always faster. Many of the speedsters we consider the fastest — including certain Ferraris and Lamborghinis — are only available as automatics.

Reason #5 to drive an automatic: it’s a luxury in Europe

Automatic rental cars in Europe can be twice as expensive as their manual counterparts. Renting the most affordable manual transmission during one December week in London can cost as little as £160.60, while the cheapest automatic costs a whopping £347.00. In Prague, the story is similar: £190 for the low-end manual and roughly £345 for the most affordable automatic.

Because Europe totally gets it.

To conclude

Mounting an impassioned defense of a technology that most of us take for granted is an admittedly strange thing to do. But as the great comedian Louis CK points out, “Everything is amazing and nobody’s happy.”

With that sentiment in mind, take a moment to really consider what the humble automatic is trying to do: shift for you.

That’s amazing!

And I didn’t even get into clutch repair.

Related link

Top 5 reasons to drive a stick