Living Car Free - A fun little math project

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View Full Version : A fun little math project

TreeUnit
03-12-07, 08:45 PM
I did a quick estimate of yearly car cost vs. bike cost

Assuming one travels 10 mi a day on a 20mpg vehicle, and works 250 days out of the year

250x10 = 2500 mi/year
/25mpg x 2.00/gal of gas = \$200/year for gas

A car payment ~ \$100/mo = \$1200/year

Car insurance ~ \$800/ year (someone call me on this if it seems to high or low)

=2200/year

This figure does not include trips or maintainence

Compare to a decent bike which costs, oh lets say \$500

bottom line:
it would be cheaper to have your bike stolen 4 times a year than it would be to own a car

gerv
03-12-07, 09:15 PM
bottom line:
it would be cheaper to have your bike stolen 4 times a year than it would be to own a car
Just think of the savings with a \$50 U lock. You'd only need 2 or 3 bikes a year.

wahoonc
03-13-07, 05:16 AM
TreeUnit,
I think you need to up your car payment a bit... the average is about \$378:eek: the last one I had was on a used Ranger and it was \$154 and that was 10 years ago:D And about those bike prices...;) :p I lusted after a Breezer...they run about \$900 for the top of the line:( so I guess I would have to be extra careful to keep it locked up. In reality, I bought me a decent used German commuter for about \$175, it came loaded with fenders, generator hub, good lights, racks and a nice upright riding position. Only thing I plan on swapping out is the seat and seat post. I want a Brooks and a non-suspension seat post on it. But irregardless you are on the right track!

Aaron:)

I-Like-To-Bike
03-13-07, 06:33 AM
I did a quick estimate of yearly car cost vs. bike cost

Assuming one travels 10 mi a day on a 20mpg vehicle, and works 250 days out of the year
Why not assume travelling only 2 miles a day travel by car? That will make your comparison even better!:rolleyes:

cccorlew
03-13-07, 09:37 AM
gas here is over 3 bucks a gallon.
I'm not car free, but I tried to start the Miata the other day and the battery had gone dead. I guess I hadn't used it yet this year.
But I'm not sure I'm saving money. I keep buying cold weather bike clothes and stuff...
But I feel a ton better, and teh gas companies aren't getting my \$\$

wahoonc
03-13-07, 09:58 AM
Why not assume travelling only 2 miles a day travel by car? That will make your comparison even better!:rolleyes:

Well if we want to keep playing with the averages;) according to what I can find the average commute is 16 miles one way and takes 27 minutes.:p Obviously YMMV:p

Aaron:)

MarkS
03-13-07, 10:14 AM
Actually what your figures show is that gas prices are not a compelling reason for people to switch to cycling or even better mileage automobiles. \$200 here would be a quarter to a fifth of what most people spend for a single month's rent.

Assuming that you have to keep a vehicle around for occasional use, and that, like a lot of people, you have an older car which has been paid off ... the cost savings are even smaller. Then factor in new wheelsets every 5000 - 1000 miles, new tires every 3000 miles, brake pads, chains, tune-ups, convenience packaged road food ... only the insurance tips things toward the bike side. And some people want bikes to be registered.

I-Like-To-Bike
03-13-07, 10:15 AM
Well if we want to keep playing with the averages;) according to what I can find the average commute is 16 miles one way and takes 27 minutes.:p Obviously YMMV:p

And another little tidbit to consider from the believe it or don't department: Some families use their car for more than just commuting once a day. Even if some simple folk would consider those extra trips and reasons "unnecessary" or "wasteful."

JeffS
03-13-07, 10:20 AM
Well if we want to keep playing with the averages;) according to what I can find the average commute is 16 miles one way and takes 27 minutes.:p Obviously YMMV:p

Aaron:)

Don't feed the troll... he likes it too much.

huerro
03-13-07, 10:33 AM
There's no question that commuting by bike is cheaper. Your calculations are low for car ownership, but I think they are also low for bike cost. I think you need to factor in time and its value/cost. For many, myself included it is faster and easier to commute by bike than by automobile, but many have much longer commutes on a bike than in a car and don't have the means to pay for a home or apartment 15 minutes from their work, even with the monney they might save by not owning a car.

If someone's cycle commute means that they have to pay for an extra hour of daycare each day, it can add quite a bit, just as an example. Also, someone with lots of disposable income might gladly part with \$3000 a year to have an extra hour each day with her children.

Of course, it's good to point out the financial benefits of riding over driving, but these benefits are (obviously) not important to everyone and some would see less financial benefit than you might expect.
There are also some hidden financial benefits in cycling. How much does a cycle commuter save in health care over the long run than a driver? I don't know, but I'm sure it's significant.

gerv
03-13-07, 10:58 AM
Of course, it's good to point out the financial benefits of riding over driving, but these benefits are (obviously) not important to everyone and some would see less financial benefit than you might expect.
There are also some hidden financial benefits in cycling. How much does a cycle commuter save in health care over the long run than a driver? I don't know, but I'm sure it's significant.
As you move to cycling as the primary means of transport, some additional financial side-effects occur. Now, for example, you can't go on one of those indiscriminate purchasing trips where you fill up your car trunk with merchanidse. You need to think each big item carefully. Do I really need this? Over time, this should lead to a considerable cash savings, although at first it seems like a bad limitation.

03-13-07, 11:07 AM
How much does a cycle commuter save in health care over the long run than a driver? I don't know, but I'm sure it's significant.

assuming that cycle commuters are getting exercise by cycling is about as correct as assuming people who drive cars don't exercise.

Roody
03-13-07, 11:17 AM
assuming that cycle commuters are getting exercise by cycling is about as correct as assuming people who drive cars don't exercise.
It seems safe to assume that bike commuters get more exercise than cagers. How could they cycle and not get exerise?

And how do you figure that cagers get exercise while they're commuting? Kegels (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kegel_exercise)?

Roody
03-13-07, 11:20 AM
Actually what your figures show is that gas prices are not a compelling reason for people to switch to cycling or even better mileage automobiles. Blah, blah, blah......

03-13-07, 11:41 AM
It seems safe to assume that bike commuters get more exercise than cagers. How could they cycle and not get exerise?

And how do you figure that cagers get exercise while they're commuting? Kegels (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kegel_exercise)?

why?

What's to say that cager doesn't train for marathons? All exercise does not happen while commuting.
I certainly don't consider my commute exercise. 5 miles, very few hills, I average 15 mph. I could go faster, I could take a longer route, but I don't. I commute to get where I'm going. Very often, when I arrive, my heart rate is below 100. All I've done is breathe in exhaust fumes.

Roody
03-13-07, 12:02 PM
why?

What's to say that cager doesn't train for marathons? All exercise does not happen while commuting.
I certainly don't consider my commute exercise. 5 miles, very few hills, I average 15 mph. I could go faster, I could take a longer route, but I don't. I commute to get where I'm going. Very often, when I arrive, my heart rate is below 100. All I've done is breathe in exhaust fumes.
One reason your HR stays below 100 is that you're probably already in good shape. But your daily commute is still more exercise than the average american gets in a whole week. It's enough exercise to reduce risk of heart attack and diabetes, and even lower blood pressure and blood sugars. It's also enough to lose you about 10 pounds a year if you eat the same amount.

Exercise is not all or nothing. You don't have to train for a marathon to see a lot of benefits. 30 minutes/day of moderate exercise is beneficial for a thin person. 60 to 90 minutes is better for those (most of us) who have weight problems. There are many large sample studies showing these benefits.

wahoonc
03-13-07, 12:07 PM
why?

What's to say that cager doesn't train for marathons? All exercise does not happen while commuting.
I certainly don't consider my commute exercise. 5 miles, very few hills, I average 15 mph. I could go faster, I could take a longer route, but I don't. I commute to get where I'm going. Very often, when I arrive, my heart rate is below 100. All I've done is breathe in exhaust fumes.

But at least you are moving and keeping the blood pumping. There was a study a while back that hooked up commuting cagers to a EKG and they were going through some major stress while driving...I would be willing to bet that your blood pressure is a lot lower than the average car commuter. Some of them may well be of the athletic bent, but a lot I have seen are obese and can't walk across a parking lot without wheezing. You are way ahead of those people, just buy riding that 30 minutes or so a day.

Aaron:)

huerro
03-13-07, 12:33 PM
It seems safe to assume that bike commuters get more exercise than cagers. How could they cycle and not get exerise? [/URL]?[/I]

Perhaps some sort of m c escher commute that is downhill for the whole round trip. Sometimes I wouldn't mind one of those.

huerro
03-13-07, 12:51 PM
why?

What's to say that cager doesn't train for marathons? All exercise does not happen while commuting.
I certainly don't consider my commute exercise. 5 miles, very few hills, I average 15 mph. I could go faster, I could take a longer route, but I don't. I commute to get where I'm going. Very often, when I arrive, my heart rate is below 100. All I've done is breathe in exhaust fumes.

You seem to confuse exercise with training.

From the CDC: (http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/physical/recommendations/index.htm)

Adults should strive to meet either of the following physical activity recommendations.

* Adults should engage in moderate-intensity physical activities for at least 30 minutes on 5 or more days of the week.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/American College of Sports Medicine

OR

* Adults should engage in vigorous-intensity physical activity 3 or more days per week for 20 or more minutes per occasion
– Healthy People 2010

Sounds like your five miles (is that one way or round trip?) @ 15mph on level ground is almost a perfect fit.

Here's how the CDC defines moderate intensity exercise (http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/physical/terms/index.htm#Moderate):

Moderate-intensity physical activity refers to a level of effort in which a person should experience:

* Some increase in breathing or heart rate
* a "perceived exertion" of 11 to 14 on the Borg scale
o the effort a healthy individual might expend while walking briskly, mowing the lawn, dancing, swimming, or bicycling on level terrain, for example.
* 3 to 6 metabolic equivalents (METs); or
* any activity that burns 3.5 to 7 Calories per minute (kcal/min)

A commute of 7-10 miles five days a week pretty much guarantees that you are getting your recommended exercies. Driving to work guarantees no such thing.

03-13-07, 01:07 PM
You seem to confuse exercise with training.

From the CDC: (http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/physical/recommendations/index.htm)

Sounds like your five miles (is that one way or round trip?) @ 15mph on level ground is almost a perfect fit.

Here's how the CDC defines moderate intensity exercise (http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/physical/terms/index.htm#Moderate):

A commute of 7-10 miles five days a week pretty much guarantees that you are getting your recommended exercies. Driving to work guarantees no such thing.

guarantees.

I think the correlation between people who choose to be car free and people who are fit is a reverse of what you people are thinking. Hugely obese people will, in general, not consider biking a possibility. Fit, or at least able, people would.

I still don't understand why driving to work precludes a person from engaging in a 3-mile run every morning. You people (and by that, I mean most people in this forum) CONTINUOUSLY vilify drivers as if there is nothing good about them or their transportation. My god, if only I had the freedom to be so elitist about my lifestyle.

huerro
03-13-07, 02:07 PM
guarantees.

I think the correlation between people who choose to be car free and people who are fit is a reverse of what you people are thinking. Hugely obese people will, in general, not consider biking a possibility. Fit, or at least able, people would.

Again, you seem to not be getting my point. Perhaps I'm not being clear. In my original post I did not mean to suggest something along the lines of "if those fatties would just ride a bike, everything would be sunshine and puppy dogs." Rather, commuting by bike is a way for someone to stay healthy and avoid high healthcare costs. Yes, overweight people will see a health benefit from biking to work. A person that is at a healthy weight will also see health benefits from cycling. Perhaps the biggest is that such a person will be less likely to become obese or develop many other health problems.

I still don't understand why driving to work precludes a person from engaging in a 3-mile run every morning.

I've not read any comment in this thread that suggested that "driving to work precludes a person from engaging in a 3-mile run every morning." I'm sure you would agree that most do not run 3 miles every morning. In fact according to the CDC (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5232a2.htm), in 2001, only 45.4% of adults met the agency's minimum exercise recommendations. However, as I showed in my last post, everyone who commutes a minimum of 30 minutes round trip on flat ground five days each week meets those minimum recommendations.

You people (and by that, I mean most people in this forum) CONTINUOUSLY vilify drivers as if there is nothing good about them or their transportation. My god, if only I had the freedom to be so elitist about my lifestyle.

We'll have to just disagree on this one. I've read many posts on here offering encouragement and showing admiration for car-lite people and families. Read through this thread for some examples: One Vehicle per family (http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=276829). In fact, if you'll go back to my first post (I know you did not accuse me, personally, of villifying cars and drivers), you will see that I showed reasons why many people might choose to drive.

03-13-07, 02:13 PM
There are also some hidden financial benefits in cycling. How much does a cycle commuter save in health care over the long run than a driver? I don't know, but I'm sure it's significant.

This is the quote I think about. In order for there to be a 'significant' savings in health care costs, one must assume that a significant portion of drivers are getting significantly less exercise than the mininum. If nearly 50% of people are meeting the minimum, then there can't be that huge a difference between someone who (as their only form of exercise) has a 5 mile easy commute, and someone who drives.

gwd
03-13-07, 02:39 PM
It seems safe to assume that bike commuters get more exercise than cagers. How could they cycle and not get exerise?

And how do you figure that cagers get exercise while they're commuting? Kegels (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kegel_exercise)?

Roody, on this thread the car culture gets surreal in its defense of the indefensible. Kegel. I haven't heard that since birthing class. I'll ride the long way home today and try the Kegel exercise while pedaling uphill to make sure my exercise is on par with the cagers.

huerro
03-13-07, 03:25 PM
A little exercise goes a long way. Let's do some math ourselves.

According to the CDC (http://www.cnn.com/2004/HEALTH/conditions/01/21/obesity.spending.ap/):

64% of the adult population is overweight or obese. Obesity related medical expenses reached \$73 Billion in 2003. Of this 39 Billion (or \$175 per citizen) is payed by taxpayers. We won't count that. That leaves \$34 Billion that is paid by the obese themselves.

We're just estimating here so these numbers are far from perfect. Let's say that the 1/2 of the population (112 million of 224 million total) that gets its recommended exercise isn't paying these medical costs (other than the ones that come out of their taxes.) \$34 billion dollars split among 112 million people comes out to an average of \$303 dollars per year that obese people pay for medical care directly related to their obesity (again, not including the part that comes out of their taxes).

By staying fit, people save an average of \$303 each year in medical bills. So, if riding keeps you from getting fat, it saves you \$303 yearly in direct medical costs.

We said that about 45% of the population gets their exercise and 64% of the population is overweight or obese. So, about 20% of the total get their exercise but are still fat. We'll say that this is true of cycle commuters as well. That leaves 80% who are fit, of whom 64% would otherwise be overweight or obese for a total of 54% who would be overweight or obese but are not becuase they commute by bicycle and 36% who would be fit even if they didn't cycle to work.

So slightly less than half of all cycle commuters won't save anything and half will save \$303 per year. So the average is right around \$150 per year. It's 7% of Tree Unit's orginal calculation, significant.

The more people who do it, the more it will cut into that \$175 that we all pay each year in taxes for medical expenses directly related to obesity.

According to this article in the journal Pharmoeconomics, (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?itool=abstractplus&db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=abstractplus&list_uids=10147247) the indirect costs add another 50% to the total cost of obesity. I assume most of this is borne by employers and the economy in general.

MarkS
03-13-07, 04:14 PM

So what's wrong with the avatar? I was thinking of it more as ironic, but I suppose some people could take it literally. It was taken from a real sign on a road that encircles an historical landmark in Pt. Loma CA. I was disappointed I couldn't just dash down.

dynodonn
03-13-07, 04:45 PM
Here's some more math, One 5000 lbs SUV weighs the same as 200 bicycles weighing 25 lbs, and at 15mpg the same SUV burns .433lbs (figuring 6.5 pounds per gallon) of gasoline per mile. Say we traveled the same distance in the SUV that I did I my bike last year, 3500 miles, thats about 1517 lbs of gas which equals to about the same weight of 60 more bikes.

wfin2004
03-13-07, 04:58 PM
I did a quick estimate of yearly car cost vs. bike cost

Assuming one travels 10 mi a day on a 20mpg vehicle, and works 250 days out of the year

250x10 = 2500 mi/year
/25mpg x 2.00/gal of gas = \$200/year for gas

A car payment ~ \$100/mo = \$1200/year

Car insurance ~ \$800/ year (someone call me on this if it seems to high or low)

=2200/year

This figure does not include trips or maintainence

Compare to a decent bike which costs, oh lets say \$500

bottom line:
it would be cheaper to have your bike stolen 4 times a year than it would be to own a car

Here is a real yearly estimate for my Wife's Expedition.

\$450 a month to finance co.
\$60 a week for gas
\$50 a month for car Ins.
That comes to \$6720 a year. Does not include maintance, oil changes etc.

dynodonn
03-13-07, 06:34 PM
Here is a real yearly estimate for my Wife's Expedition.

\$450 a month to finance co.
\$60 a week for gas
\$50 a month for car Ins.
That comes to \$6720 a year. Does not include maintance, oil changes etc.

That's some serious coinage, I would probably be in the same scenario if I had to replace my older SUV, and the above dollar amount is one reason why I am not hesitant about spending the money on a new bicycle and cycling equipment.

Wogster
03-13-07, 07:56 PM
I did a quick estimate of yearly car cost vs. bike cost

Assuming one travels 10 mi a day on a 20mpg vehicle, and works 250 days out of the year

250x10 = 2500 mi/year
/25mpg x 2.00/gal of gas = \$200/year for gas

A car payment ~ \$100/mo = \$1200/year

Car insurance ~ \$800/ year (someone call me on this if it seems to high or low)

=2200/year

This figure does not include trips or maintainence

Compare to a decent bike which costs, oh lets say \$500

bottom line:
it would be cheaper to have your bike stolen 4 times a year than it would be to own a car

The Canadian Automobile Association, put the average cost of operating an automobile at around \$8,000/yr. This is to drive a relatively new car, and includes all operator borne costs, including maintenance, fuel, insurance, payments, registration and taxes. You might be able to save a few bucks, driving an older car, but then as the car gets older, maintenance costs go up. The average mileage for drivers is around 20,000km (12,000 miles)/yr, the CAA figures were with a gas price of \$0.70/L with gas now at just over \$1/L (~\$3.80/Gallon), I would expect it closer to \$10,000 today. I did see some numbers a year ago, put out by AAA and they were similar.

Of course none of these numbers reflect the ancillary costs, for example who do you think pays for the ocean of asphalt around the local mall or your workplace? How about the cost of auto borne pollution or obesity from inactivity?

Forget the \$500 bike, heck you could buy yourself a brand new Trek Madone SL 5.2 (The Lance bike), every year, and still be ahead of the game....

gerv
03-13-07, 07:59 PM
Here is a real yearly estimate for my Wife's Expedition.

\$450 a month to finance co.
\$60 a week for gas
\$50 a month for car Ins.
That comes to \$6720 a year. Does not include maintance, oil changes etc.
And, don't forget, these are after-tax dollars. You need to earn closer to \$10k to be able to come up with \$6720.

lyeinyoureye
03-13-07, 09:40 PM
Wow TreeUnit... Those are some expensive cartomobiles...

Roody
03-14-07, 11:39 AM

So what's wrong with the avatar? I was thinking of it more as ironic, but I suppose some people could take it literally. It was taken from a real sign on a road that encircles an historical landmark in Pt. Loma CA. I was disappointed I couldn't just dash down.

Well a "No Bikes Allowed" sign on a bike forum does seem bizarre, and the more I think about it, sucky.

But I am glad you mean it ironically. :)

donrhummy
03-14-07, 12:50 PM
I did a quick estimate of yearly car cost vs. bike cost

Assuming one travels 10 mi a day on a 20mpg vehicle, and works 250 days out of the year

250x10 = 2500 mi/year
/25mpg x 2.00/gal of gas = \$200/year for gas

A car payment ~ \$100/mo = \$1200/year

Car insurance ~ \$800/ year (someone call me on this if it seems to high or low)

=2200/year

This figure does not include trips or maintainence

Compare to a decent bike which costs, oh lets say \$500

bottom line:
it would be cheaper to have your bike stolen 4 times a year than it would be to own a car

You forgot the cost of registering the vehicle in the city/state.

TurdFerguson2
03-14-07, 01:39 PM
Here's one for you all...

My wife and I work within 300 ft of each other. And I am proud to say we are car-lite, which is definitely easier because we work so close to each other and work the same hours.

But, I have started riding everyday. Can anyone find any cost savings? Sure there are the health benefits as mentioned and a marginal amount of gas savings (driving the extra 300ft and back to drop off), but is there anything else? I personally do it for the fitness and the mood lift I get from passing cars stuck in traffic. I would love to say I do it for the environment, but I can't really justify it since my wife usually ends up driving the car the exact same route whether I'm in it or not.

My wife also rides occasionally, but she is definitely a fair-weather commuter, whereas I am willing to risk the rain and snow (but not ice and extreme cold).

LandLuger
03-14-07, 02:55 PM
Mr. TurdFerguson2,

All your points are valid; however, if you're enjoying yourself, why not? Furthermore, don't forget that you aren't operating in a vacuum and your actions can and do influence others. When I ride my bike for transportation, I try to dress and conduct myself well to promote bicyling as a valid alternative to the ICE vehicle. Just something you might not have considered.

TurdFerguson2
03-14-07, 05:59 PM
ICE vehicle

Forgive my ignorance, as I am new here, but what is an ICE vehicle?

Wogster
03-14-07, 06:16 PM
Forgive my ignorance, as I am new here, but what is an ICE vehicle?

I think he means Internal Combustion Engine, but the term is also used for InterCity Express a high speed train, designed in Germany.

Roody
03-16-07, 11:43 AM
ICE:

In Case of Emergency

Insane Cycling Enthusiast

Ignorant Cagers Everywhere

I Could Explode