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Save Money on Your Commute with these Transportation Alternatives

For many of us, a commute is a reality of life, whether it’s to work or the local shops for our everyday necessities. Most of us don’t have the good fortune to live close to where we work and need to shop. If you can’t travel by car, here is a guide of alternative transportation methods, so you can get where you need to go.


Should I start riding a bike?

Bicycles are an eco-conscious, healthy, and affordable option for transportation. Once you buy the bike, you don’t need to worry about expensive fuel, maintenance, or car insurance. After all, you power the bike yourself.

Cities are increasingly becoming more bike-friendly, adding new bike lanes and cracking down on dangerous driver behavior threatening cyclists. Fortunately, these steps are making the streets safer for those of us who don’t ride a bike, too.

A common choice for cyclists is an electric bicycle. You can generally fold the bikes in half for easy storage in seconds and ride them as traditional bikes. For added convenience, some electric bikes charge your smartphone and come with companion apps to track your distance or even turn on built-in LED lights to ride in style.

If you’re nervous about purchasing a bicycle because of cost, especially when some bicycles can now cost thousands of dollars, look into whether your city has a network of public bikes you can rent. Cities big and small, including New York, Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco, have bicycle stands with bikes available for rent, and there are now apps that have “dockless” bikes. These bike-sharing apps can help you find a bicycle that’s closest to you and can be more convenient. Often, there are also monthly or annual pass options suited for more regular riders, which could cut down your commute cost as well. And with docking stations located throughout bustling business areas of downtown, they offer a convenient alternative to hunting down an open parking space.

  • Pros of commuting on a bicycle: 
    • Many cities are limiting through traffic on some main streets and expanding their network of bike lanes to make cycling safer
    • Healthy for you and the environment
    • Can be more affordable: you can purchase your own bicycle cheaply or rent a shared bike to keep costs low
  • Cons of commuting on a bicycle:
    • Regular car traffic can be dangerous, especially in congested areas
    • Your office or home may not have space for you to store your bike securely
    • Some bicycles, including electric bikes, may be expensive to purchase or maintain over time



Should I buy a moped to commute?

Mopeds often bring to mind driving along some idyllic European coastline, but they can be a great way to get around here in the U.S., too. Like bicycles, mopeds can keep commute costs low, as they’re cheaper to purchase and maintain than cars.

If you’ve never driven a moped, companies now make it easy to start riding. In some cities, app-based moped rentals are becoming commonplace and usually cost just a few dollars. And there’s no need to own a helmet for the occasional ride — these companies often provide helmets in the cargo trunk, ready for riders!

  • Pros of commuting on a moped: 
    • Can be more affordable: typically cost a few dollars to unlock and ride
    • Ready-to-ride with helmets often readily available
    • Faster than biking and less exerting on your body
  • Cons of commuting on a moped: 
    • Congested streets can be dangerous or scary, especially for new moped drivers
    • Limited storage space for your bag, briefcase, or shopping bags



Is public transportation safe for commutes?

Public transportation, whether by bus, rail, or subway, can be a convenient way to get to work and around town. In many major cities and suburbs, it is the most common method of transportation. Generally, costing just a few dollars, it is also the most cost-effective. Plus, when taken instead of driving a car, public transport can be a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and reduce the effects of climate change on the environment.

  • Pros of commuting on public transportation: 
    • Generally the most cost effective: fares can range from a few cents to a few dollars 
    • You can be more productive while commuting: multi-tasking gives you the opportunity to read your emails or a book
    • Can be less stressful: you don’t need to worry about traffic because someone else is driving
  • Cons of commuting on public transportation: 
    • Can be very crowded and uncomfortable during peak morning and early evening commute times
    • Wait times can be long because of COVID-19, as some agencies have cut frequencies of service
    • Limited personal space or social distancing when crowded
    • Cleanliness may be an issue in heavily frequented routes, stations, or stops
      

Should I continue commuting by driving?

While carpooling may be less common because of health concerns stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, many car owners are finding more value in their vehicles now more than ever. Driving with your family or people who you live with can help alleviate some cleanliness and hygiene concerns.

  • Pros of commuting by driving:
    • Convenience of getting on the road straight from your home
    • If you’re able to commute with a partner, friend or coworker, you can take advantage of the carpool lane for a potentially quicker ride
    • Could allow you to better maintain social distancing and personal space
  • Cons of commuting by driving:
    • Heavy traffic or accidents on the road can slow you down and stress you out
    • Driving is a significant contributor to climate change
    • Gas prices and car maintenance can be costly
    • Car insurance can be expensive and is another added cost to owning a car

If you find yourself driving your car less during the week or with a changed routine, Metromile’s pay-per-mile car insurance could be a great way to save money. When you drive less, you can save more because your bill is based on the miles you drive.

Demi Greco is a communications specialist, plant mom, and under-baked cookie connoisseur from San Francisco.

Tips for an Enjoyable Walk to Work

The sun is shining and it’s finally starting to warm up outside. A great way to soak up the beautiful weather is to start walking to work. Here are our top tips for an enjoyable walk commute.

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Leave the house early. If this is your first time walking to work, it could take you longer than expected, so give yourself plenty of time to get there. Even if you are a “seasoned walker” it’s better to enjoy the route without feeling rushed.

Prepare for bad weather. Grab your umbrella, rain jacket, or heavier coat if need be. And don’t forget to check your weather apps before heading out the door. Even if it appears to be sunny, there could be a rainstorm looming.

Pop on your headphones. Listen to a fun playlist, audiobook or podcast to start your day off, it’ll make your walk enjoyable. Here are some of our favorites.

Wear the right shoes. It’s important to wear comfortable and supportive walking shoes. If you want, you still can bring your nicer work shoes to change into once you get there.

Try a fitness tracker. It’ll keep you motivated to keep on stepping. You could even start a friendly competition with friends or co-workers. At the end of the day, you can feel accomplished that you beat your friends in their total steps.

Grab a backpack. Ditch your purse or briefcase. A backpack allows you to balance and carry weight easier. You’ll thank yourself later.

Stay hydrated. Fill up your water bottle and keep it handy to rehydrate yourself throughout your walk. You could even pack a snack to munch on along the way.

If you find yourself walking to work more than you are driving, pay-per-mile car insurance could be a great choice for you. Metromile helps low mileage drivers save money on insurance because the bill is based on how much you drive. Learn more and see what your potential savings could be.

How Much Does a Long Commute Cost You?

The following is an infographic and  guest post from Anastasia Ivanov, a freelance writer and graphic designer for InvestmentZen with a penchant for flipping houses.

Have you ever paused for a moment to consider how much your car commute to work might be costing you? If you haven’t, the figures you are about to encounter will make your head spin.

Not only are long car commutes to work financially costly, they take so many hours that by the end of a 30-year career, you’ll have effectively spent several full months staring at other people’s tail lights.

For instance, if your commute averages 26 minutes, you spend 9 full days of your life on the road annually. That’s a steep price to pay just to get to work.

How about the financial impact? When it’s all said and done, car commutes can easily cost the average person up to a million dollars cumulatively over the course of a 30-year career in lost time and earnings. Considering how easily those lost earnings could accelerate your early retirement, you definitely want to take into account how far away you live from the office.

Moreover, when you consider the health and environmental impact that comes with a long commute such as the increased pollution from emissions along with increased stress levels and the risk of developing high blood pressure, you’ll better understand why Metromile is so passionate about rewarding people who spend less time in their cars.

Metromile’s pay-per-mile insurance is not only the most practical policy, it’s also one of the few policies available that reward you for your sound lifestyle choices.

To see more details about how expensive a long commute can be, just take a look at the infographic below by InvestmentZen.

How Your Commute Could Change… For the Better

The average American spends 52 minutes commuting to and from work every day. One of the main reasons for this prolonged driving time is everyone’s most dreaded driving obstacle: traffic. Think about how many vehicles are on the road with only one or two passengers, all likely going similar routes. If we could create a more efficient way of getting to and from work, therefore reducing the number of cars on the road, we’d probably get there a whole lot faster. Luckily, there are a handful of new services that are attempting just that.

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Try out a “microtransit” service
The phrase “microtransit” isn’t really a “thing” yet, but the idea of a bus meets Uber hybrid is starting to pop up all over the US. Companies like Chariot (San Francisco) and Bridj (Boston, DC, Kansas City) have fleets of shuttle buses that run similar routes to the public bus system but tout more reliable and comfortable rides. Simply open the app, select your desired time and reserve a guaranteed seat. The service isn’t on-demand on like Uber, and you have to choose from one of their predetermined routes, but the price is typically much cheaper (and therefore better for your bank account).

Give the bus another chance
Even if you’ve had a bad experience with public transit in the past, don’t write it off just yet. Public transportation companies are continually improving their services, and in some cities, introducing totally revamped offerings. Throughout the Bay Area, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is currently under construction. These new buses will have dedicated lanes to free them of car traffic, and platforms to ensure seamless boarding. Over on the East Coast, Virginia recently debuted the Metroway system, a similar concept where a new fleet of buses travel in a dedicated lane and breeze by traffic.

Carpool with ease
You don’t need to give up the freedom of driving to work to get there more efficiently. With a carpool service, you can make better use of your car and pick up others going the same way. While the hassle of finding someone who has a similar route and schedule might seem daunting, there is an array of new apps and services that make this easier. From Scoop, which lets you schedule your trip ahead of time, to UberPool, which you can order on-the-go, save money and time by sharing your commute.

If one of these options works well for you and you find you are driving less, or your commute is more traffic than mileage, you could save a ton of money with Metromile’s pay-per-mile insurance offering. Get a quick quote now to see how much you could save!

Biking 101: The Commute

May is National Bike Month, and what better time to try your hand at a new commute? More than half of Americans live within five miles of their office, which is about a 30 minute bike ride. Biking to work offers many benefits: it saves time and money and is good for the environment. Plus, you’ll getting a workout in!

drive less

If you’re thinking about biking to work, but don’t know what you need or where to get started, we’ve gathered some best practices and good habits for your bike commute:

Bike to Work 101

Get your gear: You don’t need to have a full bicycle kit to ride to work. However, we do recommend wearing a sturdy helmet and finding a reliable bike lock. Many urban offices have a bike room you can store your bike in during the day, so be sure to utilize that if it’s an option.

Test ride: Google Maps offers routes for an optimized bike commute on streets with bike paths. Test your ride in off-commute hours or on a non-work day to get a hang of your route.

Follow the rules of the road: Always bike in the same direction of traffic, and keep a pulse on the cars, bikes and pedestrians around you. Read more bicycle safety tips here.

Good Habits

Keep the phone out of sight: You’ll want to keep your eyes on the road and your ears out for honking, approaching cars and ambulances.

Use clear hand signals: Using your left hand to signal while biking helps communicate your route clearly with the drivers around you.

Dress for the ride: Make sure the drivers around you are aware you are there, and on two wheels. Wear bright colors during the day and reflective gear at night.

National Bike to Work Week is May 16-20, 2016. Bike to Work Day is May 20, 2016.

Don’t have a bike? Many urban areas have bike share programs, which allow riders an allotted time for transportation for a small annual fee. If you find yourself on two wheels more often than four, pay-per-mile car insurance could be a great option for you. Find out more here.

Metromile Launches Pay-Per-Step Walking Insurance

Research has shown that our signature pay-per-mile car insurance offering has customers ditching their cars, many for their own two feet. Today, we’ve announced a new insurance offering to cover you from the disasters you could potentially face on foot: walking insurance.

Metromile’s walking insurance functions through its new smart walking app: the Metromile Pace. Several factors will be considered when creating your unique per-step rate, including broken bone history, clumsiness score and type of walking shoes.

Customers who sign up for the Metromile Pace will be covered in the event of:

  • Being caught in an unexpected rainstorm
  • Losing footing, tripping or falling
  • Worn out socks and shoes
  • Emergency walk-side assistance
  • And more!

It’s time to toss your pedometers! Users will see increased benefits with the walking insurance feature, including tracking number of steps, miles logged, shoe health and more. We’re especially excited about the “Walk Much?” feature that is able to gauge fall severity based on impact and immediately alerts emergency operators.

We’re offering a safe-walker discount for walkers who commit to not walk-and-text, use the handrail when available, and follow the safe route recommended by their Metromile Pace. There is also a bonus offer for adding a foot care package to your walking insurance, which includes a monthly pedicure and new pair of socks.

 

April Fools’! While we don’t actually offer pay-per-step walking insurance, we do offer pay-per-mile car insurance for low-mileage drivers. Get a free quote here.

Ear Candy: Podcasts for the Daily Commute

Whether driving or using alternative forms of transportation, the monotony of a daily commute can be exhausting. Turn left here, turn right there, sit in stopped traffic for twenty minutes… To make your commute more enjoyable, we’re here with some great podcasts to tune in to. The best part? They’re almost all free. Many will have you on the edge of your seat with suspense or crying because you are laughing so hard.

commuting tips

Serial tells one true story over the course of a season. Each episode, you are given more and more information about the plot and characters, so episodes must be listened to in order. Season one follows an unsolved murder mystery, and season two follows U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban and is now home. It’s captivating – you won’t want to get out of your car (or bus)!

The Moth records stories told by everyday people, unscripted, to a crowd of storytelling enthusiasts worldwide. The stories are strung together by a common theme into a weekly podcast that comes out on Tuesdays. See if there is a live story slam near you (you can enter to share your own story too).

Stuff You Should Know has something for everyone – from learning how jackhammers work to discovering the origins of dark fairy tales. You can get the lowdown now on their website.

TED Radio Hour circles through many fascinating inventions, approaches, creations and more. They are based on real TED Talks given by speakers on the famed TED stage. Also, check out the TEDTalks: Technology podcast where inventors and researchers in tech share their visions and successes.

Dinner Party Download will get you up-to-date on culture, food and conversation. Guests include creative and comedic celebrities, such as Steve Martin, Jason Schwartzmann, Brie Larson and Olivia Wilde. You’ll be full of conversation starters for your next party.

We’re always looking for new podcasts to add to our library. What are you listening to? Share with us below in the comments. And if your podcast-filled commute has you taking the bus instead of driving, pay-per-mile insurance could be a great option for you! Learn more here.

All Aboard! The Future of Public Transportation

You likely live a busy life and want to get from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible. Driving your car can be a good option when you are in a pinch, but with new innovations, public transportation is also a viable alternative. An alternative that doesn’t require circling around to find a parking spot! Since it’s safe to say teleportation won’t be happening anytime soon, here are some ways that public transit is becoming faster, easier and more enjoyable.

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Get there faster with rapid transit.
The first rapid bus lines should be up and running in the Bay Area by 2018. A sort of hybrid between a bus and subway, rapid bus lines have dedicated lanes to free them of car traffic, and platforms to ensure seamless boarding. Over on the East Coast, Virginia recently debuted the Metroway system, a similar concept where a new fleet of buses travel in a dedicated lane and breeze by traffic.

Take a free ride on the hyped-up hyperloop.
Want to travel at the speed of sound? How about for free? There has been lots of hype surrounding the Hyperloop, an Elon Musk project (AKA the same guy who brought about the Tesla) that promises to bring travelers from SF to LA in 30 minutes. Now, Dirk Ahlborn, the CEO of the project, is dropping hints that the trip could potentially be free or significantly discounted. Now that’s something we could get on board with.

Make the ride more enjoyable.
Even if your commute is fast, the last thing you want to deal with is crowds, and in the winter especially, the germs that come with it. The Cyclean, which recently won the Red Dot Award (an international product design prize), reinvents the typical handle by introducing a built-in cleaning function. While there aren’t any cities cities are currently planning to use this technology, it is reassuring to know that it’s out there! The Chicago Transit Authority is also helping to ensure a more enjoyable experience with the Courtesy Campaign, an award-winning ad campaign that humorously shames riders into avoiding annoying practices like blocking doorways, eating smelly food or littering.

If you find yourself driving less and taking public transportation more, you could save a ton of money (like more than $500) with Metromile’s pay-per-mile car insurance offering. It’s great way to save for people who drive less than 200 miles per week – learn more here!

Download These Apps & Make the Most of your Morning Commute

We spend an average of 38 minutes getting to and from work, totaling 165 hours a year. You could have binge-watched almost every Simpsons episode in that amount of time! If you are in the driver’s seat, your commute is likely even more painful as you aren’t able to multitask and get a head start on answering work emails (or checking Facebook). Our main piece of advice is to find alternative commute methods, such as biking, carpooling or taking the bus. It isn’t a shock that one of the main causes of a long morning commute is traffic, so if we all drove a little less, the gridlock might not be so gruesome. We do understand driving to work is sometimes unavoidable, so whether you are braving the traffic or in for a long bus ride, we’ve rounded up our favorite apps to help make the most of your morning commute.

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Fight boredom.
There are some days when you know exactly what music you want to listen to, which is when a streaming service like Spotify or Rdio will come in handy. But what about those groggy mornings when you would just love a personal DJ? Check out Songza or Apple’s new Beats radio. You could also switch things up and subscribe to some new podcasts. If you aren’t in the driver’s seat, catch up on the news with apps like Flipboard or AP Mobile.

Don’t lose your cool.
You don’t have to be a serious yogi to try meditation. If you aren’t behind the wheel, try downloading Calm or Headspace to find a little piece of mind before you rush into the day. If you are in the driver’s seat, we definitely do not recommend closing your eyes and clearing your mind (driving takes concentration!), but listening to calming music and trying some breathing exercises could help tone down the road rage. You could even tune into a classical musical station on your favorite streaming service or the radio.