Auto Manifesto

February 20, 2008

Why I Bike to Work, Part 3

In the first two parts of this series I talked about taking up the option of biking to work as a result of my office moving, and then the practicality of doing so. In this part I’ll take a look at the costs and savings in doing so, and other times I can use the bike instead of the car.

First, here’s a list of gear I had to get to start. Since I already had some of the items I’m like the bicycle, helmet, and backpack I’m going to focus on the incremental items. But just for background I bought the bike nine years ago for $900, and the helmet and backpack ran about $75 for both. So I had already spent about $1,000 for recreation that I can now also use for commuting.

The incremental items were as follows:

So my additional cost was about $300. With a two mile commute I’d be driving about 20 miles a week or 1,000 miles a year. Assuming my car gets 20 mpg on such a short commute (fuel economy would improve a little on a longer commute – I’d get about 23 mpg around town), and fuel at $3 per gallon, it would cost about $150 a year in fuel. After two years of biking to work I would finally break even.

But that doesn’t account for parking ($100/month pre-tax, so say $70/month net), maintenance and other expenses with the car, nor does it account for bicycle maintenance (which, by the way is negligible). From a financial standpoint though, it’s not like I’m saving a lot of money one way or the other if I don’t park in the office garage. If I did though it would be an extra $840 per year. So I’m easily saving several hundred a year compared to garage parking.

More importantly though, I get an additional 1,000 miles a year of bicycle riding (exercise), don’t have to look for or pay for parking. I also save 10 minutes a day in walking to and from the car (33 hours/year at 200 work days) compared to street parking. Granted that’s exercise too, but I like biking better and it’s more vigorous.

In a nutshell, biking to work has been good in every way now that I have that choice. In my case, it costs less than driving, gets me to work sooner, causes far less stress and hassle, is great exercise, and is do-able year round. Oh, and I also happen to like where I live now much more than before. So I would definitely recommend considering it.

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