Leading by example is an essential aspect of the RideAmigos philosophy. We aren’t just here to talk about smart alternatives to solo driving; we strive to put our values into action. Our team members are active participants in our internal commuter programs, and they’ve shown a remarkable level of commitment. More than half of our employees choose transportation modes other than solo driving most of the time, and one-quarter of our team never travels to work in a single-occupancy vehicle.
Embrace of alternative modes by our founders is a big part of the reason we’ve been able to foster such an exceptional company culture around commuting. Today, we’d like to highlight the forward-thinking transportation decisions of our co-founder and director Jeff Chernick, who made the bold move to divest himself of his car altogether. RideAmigos is based in Santa Monica, California, and if you’re familiar with the Los Angeles area, you know that navigating the city without a car is by no means the most common option. Jeff has persevered, and now does most of his local travel by e-bike. His story makes a great case study in the many benefits of embracing alternative modes of transportation.
In a recent interview, Jeff shed some light on what initially inspired his decision to get rid of his car. He talked about the daily cost of parking and monthly costs for car payments and insurance. When his car’s lease came up for renewal it was a great time to consider better ways to spend his money and time. After initially extending his lease for six months, Jeff decided to take the initial plunge and go for a car-free lifestyle.
“The first step was just to give up the car and start talking Lyft and Uber to work,” Jeff said. “I did the math, and I was spending around $300 a month on my lease, plus gas and insurance. It’s usually around $9 each way for a Lyft or Uber, and now I wouldn’t have to park.” So, round-trip transportation to and from work cost about $18 a day, but Jeff freed himself of $9 to $10 per day in parking costs.
“It just made sense,” Jeff continued. He commutes to the office three to four days per week, which averaged about $70 per week in ride-hailing expenses. That added up to about $280 to $300 per month, which was less than the combined cost of his car lease, insurance, and daily parking.
So, from the standpoint of commuting to work, ditching his car made sense to Jeff. But what about personal trips? “The bigger trips are definitely harder,” Jeff conceded. “It does add up, but I was already taking Lyft and Uber for some personal trips anyways.” Factoring those trips in, Jeff was basically breaking even switching from his own car to ride-hailing. However, he also discovered an added benefit of his new commuting mode: he was able to be more productive during his trip to work by taking phone calls, catching up on emails, and prepping for the day.
As time went on, Jeff became disenchanted with sitting in traffic, despite the added productivity time. One morning on his way to work, he noticed there was a bike path along the beach that covered virtually his entire commuting route. “I had been thinking about getting an e-bike for a really long time,” Jeff said. The mental wheels started turning, and after doing some research and consulting several other RideAmigos team members who own e-bikes, Jeff found a model he liked and pulled the trigger. (He picked out a Joulvert Playa Voyager – it’s got a backseat for your amigos!)
“[The bike] goes up to 22 miles per hour, and my new commute is essentially the same amount of time it would take to drive if there’s no traffic.” Jeff’s particular e-bike model retails for about $1,800, and he found that making the change vastly accelerated his cost savings because he’s reliably able to use his e-bike for both commutes and personal trips, given Southern California’s dry and sunny climate.
“It’s definitely life-changing,” Jeff said. Yet, there were some issues to be ironed out along the way, like assembling the e-bike he bought and learning how to use all its features properly. “My one recommendation is do our research, talk to friends and local shops, and if you do end up ordering online, get it delivered right to a local bike shop so they can put it together for you.” Jeff also points out that buying an e-bike from a traditional retail shop that is familiar with e-bikes has its benefits, like service and maintenance support. “You might get a better deal online, but the big pro of buying from a shop is the service.”
Jeff summed up his personal transportation transformation by saying, “I still use Uber and Lyft here and there. I still carpool. I mix it up. I don’t e-bike every single day. But every time I bike to work, I save $20, and that means this bike will pay for itself in just a few months.”
Here at RideAmigos, we know here are lots of people like Jeff who, with a little encouragement and some additional mobility resources, could skip the solo drive and embrace a car-lite or car-free lifestyle. It’s why we’re committed to providing tools and programs for organizations of all types to help them connect commuters, provide transportation options, and reward sustainable choices. If your organization is ready to reduce costs and environmental impact through smarter commuter solutions, let us know – we’re here to help.