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CEC is committed to creating a more resilient and just region in the face of climate change. Through our work with the Central Coast Climate Justice Network and elsewhere, our vision includes an end to racial injustices and their resulting environmental inequities.

Saturday, I had the occasion to spend some time with a fellow I had just met earlier in the week, while we were dismantling a cat run that he could re-purpose as a chicken coop for his place in Lompoc.

John Bailey, a Spanish language teacher at Santa Barbara Junior High, takes the Clean Air Express every weekday from Lompoc. The bus driver fits John’s bike underneath in the luggage compartment, and on arrival at State Street and La Cumbre, he pulls it out and John rides over one of the old stagecoach routes, State Street, to teach class at the junior high school. At the end of the day, he hops on his bike and rides back to State and La Cumbre, where he rides the bus back home. During the ride he can sleep, chat, listen to a book or music, read or catch up on work.


Roberta and I made the drive from Lompoc to work at UCSB each day and back for seven years during the 80’s. The wear and tear on the car (and us) was enormous. It was 90 miles per day round trip for us. I imagine that for John it would be closer to 105 miles per day if he drove. Do the math at $.56 per mile and a low estimate of the monthly costs to operate your own car on that trek would be $1,234 or $14,808 per year. Wow!

If I were doing this jaunt today, I’d definitely take advantage of John’s idea. If I didn’t have a bike, I’d get one at BiciCentro. These bikes can be purchased used, in solid shape for commuting, for around $200. A helmet, lights, reflective bands, bell, and a reflective high visibility vest or jacket could be had for less than $200. That’s $400 out of pocket. $400 vs. buying and maintaining a second car with all the time, costs, insurance, and hassles — hmmm.

The Clean Air Express monthly pass is $150. Do the math: first month savings of more than $650. After that, at least $1,200 a month after factoring in a spot of care and feeding for the bike and gear. Some employers even subsidize the cost of commute alternatives to take the pressure off the roads for those that can’t ride share. And, Traffic Solutions even has an Emergency Ride Home program to help cover the cost of getting home in the case of an emergency.

Then, I’d take that $1,200 a month and max out my 401K/IRA retirement and kids college funds. That $1,200 a month at an 8% return could result in about $1.8 million in 30 years. Or, about $4.2 million in 40 years. And, one other little thing: that $1,200 spent on using the car is after tax dollars. So, the savings realized could actually be greater since the 401K/IRA are created with pre-tax dollars.

We all make choices, but clearly John has made one that saves him money today, provides options for his future, and improves his health at the same time. Improved health — there’s another reason to build a ride to and from work into your day. Burns calories, drops blood pressure, reduces stress, decreases doctors visits, copays, medicine costs….

Hat’s off to you, John, for making a wise investment. And, good luck with those chickens! I know the kids will have fun with them.

If you’re interested in riding to work and want to know how to get started, consider taking a class from a League Certified Instructor at the Bicycle Coalition. And, if your business or organization would like to have classes taught onsite, please contact me at



This post was originally featured on February 12, 2014 on


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