Staying fit while saving money
Last year, the top speed in Jeremy Neuerburg's commute to work was 42 mph. That would be pretty slow in a car, but on a bicycle it's a different story.
Neuerburg, of New York Mills, makes his daily commute to and from Perham on a Trek mountain bike.
His 28-mile daily journey takes him between 30 to 55 minutes - highly influenced by weather like rain, snow, fog and especially wind.
Sometimes Neuerburg chooses to skip the bike routine until the weather cooperates, like after last week's fog caused a layer of ice to form on his glasses.
But Neuerburg doesn't like to do that too often, as he tries not to pour money into a gas tank, and instead "wants something in return for his investments."
Those 'returns' start with health benefits: He's getting lots of exercise, a daily dose of fresh air, and the ride offers great stress relief after working a long day at Northwood's Electrical and Control Systems, LLC as an electrical engineer.
Neuerburg has seen some monetary benefits too, although he admitted in an interview that the money he saves usually goes toward more biking gear.
Last summer, Neuerburg saved an estimated $550 in gas by choosing to ride his bike, rather than his car, for a total 2,000 miles.
He was able to pay off a second bike, and now owns a Trek mountain bike with studded tires for winter and a road bike that is 10 pounds lighter for the summer.
It's more than just gas money for Neuerburg, though - he saves on auto insurance and no longer purchases a gym membership. Plus, he is eligible for tax credits like the Bicycle Commuter Benefit Act, which helps bikers claim bike expenses.
For Neuerburg, commuting by bike has been an efficient way to get back and forth to work. It's "one small step towards energy independence," he said.
Bikes and vehicles sharing the road hasn't always been the safest thing. Bike accidents often hit the news, so much so that Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) and the State Nonmotorized Transportation Advisory Committee (SNTC) collaborated to come up with a program to promote bike safety.
Their 'Share the Road' program recognizes that bicyclists and motorists are equally responsible for bicycle safety. According to their website, "About one-half of all bicycle-motor vehicle collisions are attributed to various bicyclist behaviors, such as disregarding a traffic control sign or signal. The other half is attributed to motorist behaviors, such as inattention and distraction."
The other part of the equation, of course, is the motorist. Bikes are supposed to stay as far to the right as they can, and passing cars are supposed to move three feet to the left.
Neuerburg does his part as a responsible biker by staying visible. He wears a bright orange neon vest with reflector strips, his bike is decked out with lights and he wears a helmet.
Neuerburg admitted his outfit may scream "nerd alert," but he wants to do his part to prevent accidents.
By law, bikes have the same rights as cars. However, this also means they have to follow all signs - which some bikers don't realize, Neuerburg said.
Bike commuters are not as common here as in other areas of Minnesota. Neuerburg only knows of a handful, and said he would love to see more cyclists.
However, Neuerburg said, "if they are going to ride irresponsibly, I would rather they stay off the roads."
Besides commuting to work, Neuerburg enjoys trail riding with a group of friends at Wadena's Black Grove Park.
Connie Vandermay is a writer for the Perham-based East Otter Tail Focus, a publication of Forum Communications Co.