So I have a serious question for you.
Have you ever considered riding a bicycle to work?
For most of you if you have a car the answer is no why would I bike when I have a car. Well there are lots of good reasons to ride a bike for you daily commute and in this post I will go over my three favorite ones.
The True Cost of Car Commuting
Most people when they think of what it costs to go somewhere in cars think in terms of fuel. How much fuel will it take to get me from A to B. But that fuel cost is only part of the true cost of driving a car. You also have to consider the following,
· Wear and Tear on engines, tires, frame, shocks, etc.
· Car insurance
· Registration Fees
· Parking fees- if applicable
So just to put this in perspective here are my numbers from my daily commute in the winter from a calculator provided by Stanford University,
Based on your commute data, here are your associated costs of driving alone:
Apparent commute costs
These figures only cover the most obvious costs of driving: gas, parking, and tolls.
Hidden commute costs
AAA estimates that when taking into account the hidden costs of driving — including routine maintenance and repair, insurance, licensing, registration, taxes, and depreciation — it costs an average of 58.99 cents per mile to operate your vehicle. (Based on a composite average of nine vehicle categories driving 15,000 miles annually. Source: AAA’s “Your Driving Costs 2018”)
My average commute take around 15 minutes depending on how bad the school drop off traffic as while the average person in America spends 25.4 minutes in commuting one way to work. That means your numbers if you drive a car are going to be over 1000 dollars a year spent on driving and maintaining a car.
It’s not just about the gas is it?
No obviously commuting costs can vary greatly for each person but this just provides some food for thought.
Now a bike can set you back anywhere from 50 to 2000+ dollars depending on brand, materials, and where you buy it ie. fancy bike shop or Walmart. Now for your average commuter if you must have a new bike then a Walmart hybrid or road bike will be just fine for you and that will set you back around 150 dollars. Throw in a good lock and a heavy duty chain and you will most likely have spent around 200 dollars for your set up.
That’s it and with maybe 100 dollars in yearly maintenance you will have a commuting machine that will save you a bunch of money.
Your Car is Killing You
Anyone who has spent a large amount of time in car understands how uncomfortable it can be to be cooped up in a small space for a long time. But a study published in the National Library of Medicine found that there is a,
“consistent trend that higher prevalence rates of smoking, excessive alcohol use, insufficient fruit and vegetable consumption, physical inactivity, and insufficient sleep were observed among those with higher driving time.”
These results really kick in for those who drive at least 30-60 minutes per day which if you remember the average commute one way is 25 minutes. Driving impacts your health by increasing your stress, reducing your physical activity, exposing you to car exhaust and encouraging other unhealthy behaviors like eating on the go and smoking.
If you commute by bicycle you eliminate most or all these problems just by the act of doing it. If you take my commute for example, it is about 4 miles from my house to my office. If I ride my bike it takes around 15-20 minutes to make the trip and in my car it takes on average 15 minutes. So in the same amount of travel time I can get my daily exercise, reduce my stress (no traffic jams), avoid fast food temptations and breath fresher air.
Cars are killing the planet
So far I have just talked about the cost of cars to you but I think we also need to consider the cost to the planet as well. Transportation causes about 14% of global CO2 emissions. Now this number includes all forms of transportation like flying, boats, trains, buses and not just personal passenger vehicles.
Other way all these personal cars are wreaking havoc is thought the trash and other by products they produce like used motor oil and old tires. Every year automobiles produce 246 million waste tires and all these tires have to go somewhere. One fact that surprised me in all this was that 49% of all waste tires are burned for energy and that they contain more Btu than coal. But they are not a clean burning fuel and their emissions can cause a whole host of problems on their own.
If you commute by bicycle you are directly reducing the amount of CO2 that is generated, greatly reducing the amount of motor oil and used tires create. The less you drive the longer you can go between oil changes and tires replacements which of course is good for your wallet as well as the planet.
The Moral of the Story
If you haven’t figured it out by now let me lay it out for you.
Commuting by a bike is much better than commuting by a car if you look at the metrics I have laid out above. Now I understand there are a few caveats that’s should be mentioned. The farther you live from your job the harder it would be to use a bike to commute. But that can be overcome in a couple ways. You can look into electric bikes which can increase your speed and allow you to cover greater distances in less time. An electric bike can set you back a couple thousand dollars so it can be a spendy option. The other way it bit more drastic and that is move. Unless you have a strong need/attachment for your current place why not look into moving closer to work so you can bike to work and other places you frequently go.
The other caveat that people bring up is winter and I agree biking in winter is less than desirable. But I would argue that there are 3 other seasons that are typically a bit nicer that you can bike in. Don’t let winter stop you from riding in the spring, summer and fall.
Hello my name is Josh Larson and I am the creator of the Green Living Library. Here on the blog you will find updates to content found in the Green Living Library as well as stories from those living the sustainable life already.