A year ago I bought my first grown-up bicycle: a Kona Coco. It’s a great bike. It’s got a step-through frame which is perfect for stepping on and off while wearing a dress. It’s got swept back handlebars which allow me to sit up nice and tall above traffic, but it’s also got nine gears and is sufficiently light that I can make it move if I’m in traffic.
How Much My Bicycle Cost
I spent about $550 on the bike when I bought it new. Fortunately, I already had a helmet and lock, so I didn’t need to shell out for those. After I had bought the bike, I installed a rear rack which added some much-needed cargo space. I also invested in a set of lights for riding at night, a pump to keep the tires rolling at peak performance and chain cleaner and lube. Overall I’d say those items set me back an additional $100.
I was curious about how much money (if any) my new bicycle would save me on commuting, so for the past year I’ve recorded every trip I’ve taken on it. I rode my bike all year, and I essentially use my bike for all of my transportation needs, but since I don’t commute (I work from home), I only actually ride it a few times a week, and my average trip length is between two and eight kilometers.
I’ve spent about $650 on the bike since I bought it last year, and in that time I’ve ridden 350 kilometers.
The Math Behind Riding a Bike
My husband and I are a single car household. He uses our 2007 Volkswagen City Golf for his 18-kilometer round trip commute to work and back. Because he has the car all day during the week, most of the time, I’m carless when it comes to getting around. If I didn’t have my bicycle, I’d be taking the bus, which costs $4.00 for a round trip, or $5.00 if I forget to buy bus tickets.
In the year since I bought my bike, I rode it 70 times. Of those 70 trips, 60 of them would’ve been by bus if I didn’t have a bicycle, the other 10 I could’ve used our car. If I’d taken transit for all of those trips, I would’ve spent $240 on bus tickets, or $300 if I’d forgotten to buy tickets.
We’ll say I saved $290 from riding my bicycle in one year, since I’m terrible at remembering to buy tickets. But that doesn’t include the trips I could’ve taken by car.
My car costs my husband and me about $3,219 per year to maintain including gas, maintenance, registration, and insurance. We drive it about 20,000 kilometers per year which works out to a per kilometer cost of $0.16. So every kilometer we don’t drive our car saves us about $0.16.
The ten trips I could’ve taken by car but instead chose a bicycle totaled 60 kilometers, so opting to take my bike over the car saved us an additional $9.60.
Riding A Bike Will Save Me $250 Per Year
While I did spend $650 on my bicycle in the last year, it saved me about $300 in transportation costs, which means my bike will have fully paid for itself by early 2018. Going forward, I only expect to spend about $50 per year on my bike for annual maintenance, which means it’ll put $250 back in my pocket every year.
Of course, if I’d had a second vehicle that I could’ve ditched, this calculation would have been a lot more impressive, and my bike would’ve saved me thousands of dollars a year. But as it stands my husband and I are firmly and happily a one-car household, and plan to stay that way as long as possible.
Having a bike just makes that easier. After all, riding my bicycle is much faster and more convenient than driving a car or even taking transit. You don’t have to sit in traffic or wait for it to arrive like with a bus, you don’t have to search for parking downtown like with a car, and it’s easily the fastest way to get around this city.
Plus, flying past a line of cars sitting in traffic while I’m sailing along in a clear bike lane is a great feeling. 🙂
Have you, or would you consider riding a bike for commuting, errands, or both? I want to know!
Photo Credit: Alisa Anton