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I love to ride my bike, and if it were feasible, I’d ditch my mini-van, truck, and motorcycle. But I have three young kids (9, 7, & 4) and live 13 miles from work and 4 miles from Wal-Mart.

What kills me is the fact that bike parts seem extremely overpriced. This combined with the extra time it takes to bike, and eating quite a bit more food, makes it seem more expensive to bike, then drive.

With gas prices continuously rising with no relief in site, where is the cut off in gas price where commuting by bike becomes cost effective for you?
 

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KendleFox said:
I love to ride my bike, and if it were feasible, I’d ditch my mini-van, truck, and motorcycle. But I have three young kids (9, 7, & 4) and live 13 miles from work and 4 miles from Wal-Mart.

What kills me is the fact that bike parts seem extremely overpriced. This combined with the extra time it takes to bike, and eating quite a bit more food, makes it seem more expensive to bike, then drive.

With gas prices continuously rising with no relief in site, where is the cut off in gas price where commuting by bike becomes cost effective for you?
I commuted 40 miles round trip for awhile, and was convinced I ate more than I saved in gas... but still, the health benefits were priceless. I rode a beater/rain bike- recycled old steel built of spare parts... maybe had $100 invested.
 

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BS the DC
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You're going to have to keep the minivan for the kids, but for the price of a truck and motorcycle, you can put a lot of money into your bike and stomach.
 

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i had commuting in mind

KendleFox said:
I love to ride my bike, and if it were feasible, I’d ditch my mini-van, truck, and motorcycle. But I have three young kids (9, 7, & 4) and live 13 miles from work and 4 miles from Wal-Mart.

What kills me is the fact that bike parts seem extremely overpriced. This combined with the extra time it takes to bike, and eating quite a bit more food, makes it seem more expensive to bike, then drive.

With gas prices continuously rising with no relief in site, where is the cut off in gas price where commuting by bike becomes cost effective for you?
When i moved to the area. Im around 7 miles from work. My truck sits in the driveway all week while I either ride or take the bus to and from work.

You know you wouldnt have to commit to riding the whole dsitance right now. You could mix the ride in with a partial trip on transit until you feel confident about theride and then do the whole commute ride.
 

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I figured my savings for a year, and it was maybe$1000. My commute is 32 mi. round trip. What I figured was just the cost of gas. I didn't calculate oil, tires, maintenence, etc on either vehicle, bike or car.

While the savings is nice, if gas cost $.35/gal, I'd still commute via bike. Health benefits, peace & quiet time, doing what I enjoy the most, environmental benefits, to me outweigh the financial stuff at least for now.
 

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You've got to be kidding!

KendleFox said:
What kills me is the fact that bike parts seem extremely overpriced. This combined with the extra time it takes to bike, and eating quite a bit more food, makes it seem more expensive to bike, then drive.
Have you done the math? How many bike parts to you need to buy in a year for a commuter bike? When I was commuting to work, I figured I easily saved $2K per year without even thinking about the health benefits. "makes it seem more expensive to bike" sounds like you haven't even run the numbers. There's NO WAY the cost of riding a bike should be anywhere close to driving.
 

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We have one car. I commute to work everyday on my bike. Our car is a Honda Pilot that gets decent highway mileage for it's size, but we live on Oahu so highway mileage never really gets figured. Around town in stop and go traffic it probably gets around 15 mpg. The drive to work is a 40 mile round trip and with gas around $3.30 out here, that is $9 a trip. I usually work six days a week so the gas would run me around $54, so figure around $2500 a year savings in gas. In addition to that, we don't make a second car or insurance payment. I will be conservative and say that it saves $300 a month plus no upkeep (tires, oil change, etc) so add another $3600 to that. Now I am up to $6100 a year in savings by commuting.
I built up a new commuter when I moved here about 18 months ago. I spent $325 on a Soma frame and fork plus another $600 or so on stuff like a wheelset, tires, additional parts. I used an old set of 9 speed Chorus Ergo levers and derailleurs that were left over from an upgrade but could have easily found them on ebay. Adding it all up, I just don't see how I could lose on this deal. Plus I get to ride a bike everyday and still have a family life.
 

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Edit: Ok, I thought I replied to the original poster but I seem to have replied to bigbill. This is directed at the opening post.

I think you're probably forgetting about the cost of car maintenance.

For me, the gas costs versus food costs are probably close to a wash. When I ride, it is 28 miles each way and I definitely have to eat a little extra. My driving route is slightly farther and is one gallon of gas or a little less each way (I have a Honda Civic and it is mostly highway miles to work). At about $3 per gallon, the food required for the 28 miles each way is only going to be less money if I plan well. Otherwise I can't be picky since I don't have my car at work to go to the grocery store and I end up buying food at work that is not a great deal.

However, if you factor in the maintenance costs it is not even close. Keeping a bike in good working order is drastically less expensive than keeping a motor vehicle in good working order. Oil changes, repairs, tires, etc, all make the cost per mile of driving much higher than it seems at first glance.
 

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Consider that if it costs $500/month in total car ownership (and it would actually be higher if you factor in depreciation and the down payment involved), I need to work maybe 15 hours/month (after taxes) to pay for it. If I work 20 days/month, you can see how much work time is tied up in simply owning it (45 min/day)- and that doesn't even count the time spent driving to and from work.


nate said:
Edit: Ok, I thought I replied to the original poster but I seem to have replied to bigbill. This is directed at the opening post.

I think you're probably forgetting about the cost of car maintenance.

For me, the gas costs versus food costs are probably close to a wash. When I ride, it is 28 miles each way and I definitely have to eat a little extra. My driving route is slightly farther and is one gallon of gas or a little less each way (I have a Honda Civic and it is mostly highway miles to work). At about $3 per gallon, the food required for the 28 miles each way is only going to be less money if I plan well. Otherwise I can't be picky since I don't have my car at work to go to the grocery store and I end up buying food at work that is not a great deal.

However, if you factor in the maintenance costs it is not even close. Keeping a bike in good working order is drastically less expensive than keeping a motor vehicle in good working order. Oil changes, repairs, tires, etc, all make the cost per mile of driving much higher than it seems at first glance.
 

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filtersweep said:
Consider that if it costs $500/month in total car ownership (and it would actually be higher if you factor in depreciation and the down payment involved), I need to work maybe 15 hours/month (after taxes) to pay for it. If I work 20 days/month, you can see how much work time is tied up in simply owning it (45 min/day)- and that doesn't even count the time spent driving to and from work.
Excellent points.

Of course, not everyone finances car purchases so payments are not always a factor. I got a reliable used car and payed cash rather than financing something newer and/or nicer. My car has no bling and I call it the Emasculator, but it was a sensible financial decision, the bane of virility throughout the US of A. :p
 

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nate said:
Excellent points.

Of course, not everyone finances car purchases so payments are not always a factor. I got a reliable used car and payed cash rather than financing something newer and/or nicer. My car has no bling and I call it the Emasculator, but it was a sensible financial decision, the bane of virility throughout the US of A. :p
Wait a second! Let me see if I've got this right. You didn't finance a new car? You paid cash for a used car that you could afford? I'm confused.

http://danwho.net/mp/index.php?id=snl_dontbuystuff
 

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Who can put a cost on sanity?

The emotional cost of driving is quite high, cycling OTOH is a pleasure.

That makes the question not how much money driving costs but what it does to your wellbeing.
 

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nate said:
My car has no bling and I call it the Emasculator, but it was a sensible financial decision, the bane of virility throughout the US of A. :p
Ford Fiesta? :p
 

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I have thought about this alot while biking.

First, put aside the obvious mental and physical health benefits to cycling. There is a financial side to that (medical bills, etc...) but let's assume you are getting enough excersize and dont mind driving a car.

Your car costs more than gas: insurance, taxes, maintenance, etc. However, lots of these costs are fixed so if you drive 5k a year or 20k a year, you pay the same (insurance and taxes). Biking would all of a sudden make more sense if we paid per mile insurance. I wish that was the case because people who drive more are exposed to more risk and it would only be fair. We get a 10% discount for driving less than 7500 miles a year. big whoop! average joe pays about $1k in insurance to drive about 15k miles a year: 7 cents a mile. drive half that... 14 cents a mile...

The big killer that makes me want to bike are maintenance and depreciation. But only part of the depreciation is mileage. If your car sits in the driveway, its depreciating. If you have an older car, the depreciation rate goes down.

My general belief is that we get some extra year(s) out of our cars because I bike to work frequently. We pay cash and drive our cars until they are pretty worthless, then keep driving them until they are dead. So say a car lasts 11 years instead of 10, and a car costs $20k... I saved like $2k over 10 years... I spend a lot more on bikes than that!
edit: reread this and think about it this way: i also saved on a year of maintenace...

But if you do payments (4 years) and keep your car for an extra year with no payments because it's still got low mileage and is in good condition, say 3.6k a year payments (300 a month), so 3.6k over 5 years... better but not great.

Where you get big savings is by eliminating one of your cars. But until you do that, the cost structure for private car ownership favors driving a lot. Especially if you buy something like a used Honda Civic.

So it boils down to the first point: mental and physical fitness I get from biking. I get most of my miles commuting. But saving money is not a big reason for bike commuting.

I would love it if someone corrected or improved my thoughts on this... it would help justify more bike purchases!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Some good points..

Thanks so far for the many replies.

It is good to see what people think about this topic. As the gas prices get higher, RBR will get more members.

My future plans are to sell my motercycle and use the money to get a true tour bike, or a tandum.

The truck was given to me by my mother-in-law, from her brother who died. It has sentimemtal value, so I need to figure out a polite way to get rid of it.

I rode into work this morning using a longer but safer and more senic route. Damm it felt good...
 

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Kerry Irons said:
Have you done the math? How many bike parts to you need to buy in a year for a commuter bike? When I was commuting to work, I figured I easily saved $2K per year without even thinking about the health benefits. "makes it seem more expensive to bike" sounds like you haven't even run the numbers. There's NO WAY the cost of riding a bike should be anywhere close to driving.
I once did a financial comparison of the cost of commuting by car vs. the cost of commuting by bike. Figured in where the costs of fuel, maintenance, insurance, and amortization of the initial purchase price. Unfortunately, I no longer have all the numbers, but a few things popped out of the analysis:

The cost of fuel for a car is much less than the cost of fuel for cyclist, on a per mile basis. Even cheap food carbohydrates, like rice or potatos, cost far per calorie than gasoline, and even when you figure in the higher energy required to move a motor vehicle, the per mile costs were still lower for the automobile.

Maintenance costs for bicycles are higher on a per mile basis for bikes than for cars. For example, even if you pay $30 a pair for cheap bike tires and 5,000 miles out of them, that's still twice as expensive as paying $150 for a set of cheap car tires and getting 50,000 miles out of them.

When it is all added up, riding a bike is about half as expensive on a per mile basis than driving, if there is only one person per car. But if you car pool with two or more people in the car, driving is cheaper.

I haven't added up the numbers, but I suspect that using a motor scooter as personal transportation would be far cheaper than either a bicycle or a car.
 

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Mark McM, You and a few others have made the following mistake (Or at least didn't mention how you accounted for it): Assuming I maintain a similar lifestyle, continuing to ride recreationally, playing other sports and leading a more active than average lifestyle, I'd still probably eat as much, if not more since I'd have a bit more time to do it. If I drove, I'd still be eating as much food as before, and paying for gas on top of that. Maybe for some there are fewer energy bars and other specialized stuff that I don't eat/drink that would find it's way out of your diet, but I'm still pretty sure that people who drive still need to eat.
 

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By any measurement

My cost of commuting is defined via subways and even then it is cheaper to ride. I have a 9-10 mile trip each way. If I were to go public for 1 month it would be 70 bucks for a monthly pass. Bike cost is 200 for the fixie conversion.

The real issue beyond health is time. On any given day the cost of commuting vs the cost of motorized transport is minimal. Factor it out over a year or two, however, and the saving acrue.

Plus you get to eat more, I consider that a bonus!
 

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I get up, get dressed, brush my teeth, and out the door on an empty stomach for my 45 minute/13 mile commute. By the time I get to work I am starving. I keep cereal, milk, and fruit at work to eat after I get dressed. All of these items are healthy and reasonably priced. I brown bag my lunch as well. I don't know where the added cost of eating more comes from. If I wasn't commuting, I would be doing other rides and still be as hungry. I do agree that bike maintenance can cost more, I ride on a poorly maintained MUT so I do spend some money on parts periodically. A chain only lasts around 1500-1800 miles, I go through a back tire every chainlife and a front tire every two chains. An armadillo tire is around $30, so I spend $180 a year on tires and around $100 on chains. I would spend $200 a month on gas if I commuted by car.
 
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