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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 08-25-05, 11:43 AM   #1
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Anyone know of any great analytical tools for comparing commuting costs?

Anyone run across any spreadsheet, or tool, which compares the total cost of ownership of motor vehicle vs bicycle for a commute vehicle?

I ran across one sheet that is interesting but is incomplete as written to promote cycle-commuting and not to show true cost differences.
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Old 08-25-05, 12:04 PM   #2
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Since everything is so rider specific, I think your best bet is to do it yourself. Excel is a good tool, but you have to do the anaylsis on your own. The number of variates is just too great to analyze in a generic format. For example, how much do you spend on the bike/car, how much does it cost to insure the car, will you need the car anyway or would you get rid of the car, What is the useful life of your car/bike, how much is maint. on your car/bike, how much cycling specific stuff will you buy (jerseys, shorts etc), how rough are your roads (leads to increased use of tires/tubes/CO2 cartridges etc.), will you ride at night...how long at night? If you get rid of hte car, how much will it cost on days when you can't/don't commute (bus/cab fare)...figuring all that out and putting it into one spreadsheet is almost guaranteed to not reflect your situation fully unless you are the one who puts it together.
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Old 08-25-05, 12:09 PM   #3
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Plus the cost of the fuel for the HPV. Just hoped someone had done it already. Doesn't seem like rocket science. Just takes time to create a tool. Wonder if anyone else would be interested in having such a tool available?
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Old 08-25-05, 12:09 PM   #4
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Not really, but seeing as my truck gets 20mpg i save about 5 bucks for every day i dont drive it. I dont eat out for lunch anymore either so theres another 20-25 dollars a weeks savings also. Between the two, the money saved will pay the monthly note on a upcomming motorcycle purchase which will continue the savings since i wont have to drive my truck except on the most severe days. Instead of 40+ dollars a week for gas it'll be more like $40 dollars a month. Between gas and eating lunch out, i figure the saving to be around $200 dollars a month. Thats no small amount.

In 2006, i plan to actually track all this for one year.
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Old 08-25-05, 12:43 PM   #5
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It's not really possible to come up with a universal definition of cost for either a bicycle or a car. Are we talking average cost, or marginal cost? Averaged over what time period? For what pattern of use? For most drivers, the biggest single cost over the life of a car is depreciation, which is substantial when a car is new and nominal when it is old -- and only modestly affected by mileage. Depreciation also happens whether you drive the car or not. Bikes cost almost nothing to run in warm dry weather, but wear out quickly under adverse conditions -- it is not inconcievable to spend a dollar a mile keeping a bike going in snowy urban conditions.
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Old 08-25-05, 01:06 PM   #6
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i analyze it and feel great every time i pass a gas station, or hear people at work discussing the price of gas...
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Old 08-25-05, 01:16 PM   #7
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The simplest tool would just use your car's mileage per gallon, the going gas rate, and how many miles you bike per week that would have been car miles. If you want to get more into, you can start in with counting up accessories for biking versus car maintenance/depreciation/insurance (if you go carless). The biggest problem is the assumptions you'd have to make. Would you be as healthy overall without biking? How much would the medical attention have cost had you needed it? Would you have gotten into a car accident if you drove instead of biking through the winter? Depending on how you look at it, you could make the bike look like a very attractive option.

One last note, if you use your bike accessories/clothing for any riding besides commuting, then you can't technically count the full purchase price towards your cost of commuting. Same thing for the bike actually. Since we're biased against cars, these rules don't apply there
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Old 08-25-05, 01:25 PM   #8
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It is a very person-specific thing.

Money spent on Bike vs Money spent on Car
Varies based on $0 Garbage-Picked to $1600 Hybrid vs $100 Curbside-Splendor vs $60,000 H2

Money spent on additional eating vs Money spent on gas
Again, varies based on how much you change your habits.

Money spent on maintenence
"As long as it runs" vs "A Well-Oiled Machine"

It wouldn't be too hard to make, but it would be hard to accuratly track the changes
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Old 08-25-05, 01:37 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiYoSilver
Anyone run across any spreadsheet, or tool, which compares the total cost of ownership of motor vehicle vs bicycle for a commute vehicle?

I ran across one sheet that is interesting but is incomplete as written to promote cycle-commuting and not to show true cost differences.
You mean like this????

http://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/advocacy/autocost.htm

or this........

http://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/commute/quadrupl.htm
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Old 08-25-05, 02:33 PM   #10
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Close, those are the pages that got me thinking but I lost the URL when I closed without thinking first.

Without fudging the numbers for a 10 mile round trip, I can't get bike to come out cheaper than car.
They both come about $.50 per mile. The problem is the commute is so short and the car expenses are reasonable, only if assume replace the car at much higher costs in 4 years does it look better for bike. Then the depreciation for a car kicks in and shoots the cost high. Yet the car probably has another 4 to 5 years to go before it needs to be retired or replaced.
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Old 08-25-05, 02:46 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiYoSilver
Close, those are the pages that got me thinking but I lost the URL when I closed without thinking first.

Without fudging the numbers for a 10 mile round trip, I can't get bike to come out cheaper than car.
They both come about $.50 per mile. The problem is the commute is so short and the car expenses are reasonable, only if assume replace the car at much higher costs in 4 years does it look better for bike. Then the depreciation for a car kicks in and shoots the cost high. Yet the car probably has another 4 to 5 years to go before it needs to be retired or replaced.
Huh, why so much? What costs that much on a bike?

For a car, you must replace every 2 years:
Spark Plugs
Tires

Every 5 years or so:
Spark Plug Wires
Distributor Cap
Timing Belt

Plus mucho other stuff

For bike, you've got tires ($25 or so for a set, with tubes, if you shop around)
Chain ($20)
Cassette (every few chains, $40 or so)

Anything else, really?

Car costs rise dramatically due to mainetance, insurance. How does your bike cost $.50/mile?
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Old 08-25-05, 03:37 PM   #12
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I'm open to suggestions, where are costs off? Comparing ONLY commute costs.
I could only get numbers to come out "good" with adding in cost of financing car and not bike and in adding health club membership costs and exercise times to match cycling time


Assumptions:
Commute: 10 miles round trip
vacation and holidays: 20 days/year
Cycle-commuter: 4/5 days
Annual commute distance: 2,064 miles


AutoCommuter A- auto
=================
Purchase price: 23,000
Annual mileage: 11,000
Fuel: $3.00 / gallon
Maintenance/yr: $600
Avg speed: 23 mph
Summary
~~~~~
Dollars: $1,919 /yr
Road time: 90 hrs/yr
Labor time: 53 hrs/yr
exercise time: 192 hrs/yr [ 4 days a week ]
TIME PER YEAR: 335 hrs
PER COMMUTE MILE: $0.93

CycloCommuter B- moderate bike
==============================
Purchase price: $1,100
Bike stuff: $550
Fuel: not calculated, but probably should be about $1.00/day
Maintenance/yr: $100 [[ probably low ]]
Avg speed: 14 mph
Summary
~~~~~~~
Dollars: $925 /yr [ 2 year life ]
Road time: 147 hrs/yr
Labor time: 40 hrs/yr
exercise time: 0 hrs/yr [ 4 days a week ]
TIME PER YEAR: 188
PER COMMUTE MILE: $0.45
Annual cost savings over motor commute: $994
Monthly time savings: 12.23 hrs

CycloCommuter C- excellent bike
==============================
Purchase price: $4,000
Bike stuff: $0 [not calculated, probably $300/yr ]
Fuel: not calculated, but probably should be about $1.50/day
Maintenance/yr: $100 [[ probably low ]]
Avg speed: 17 mph
Summary
~~~~~~~
Dollars: $1,100 /yr [ 4 year life ]
Road time: 121 hrs/yr
Labor time: 45 hrs/yr
exercise time: 0 hrs/yr [ 4 days a week ]
TIME PER YEAR: 166 hrs
PER COMMUTE MILE: $0.53
Annual cost savings over motor commute: $819
Monthly time savings: 14.03 hrs
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Old 08-25-05, 03:51 PM   #13
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Interesting. The commute may be too short. If increase commute to 20 mile round trip it looks great for a cyclo-commuter.
Dollar costs:
Auto: $.81/mile.
Cyclo-commuter B- $.22/mile
Cyclo-commuterC- $27/mile.

Time costs:
Auto: 466 hrs/yr
cyclo.commuter B : 336 hrs
cyclo.commuter C: 287 hrs
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Old 08-25-05, 04:05 PM   #14
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My wife and I did a similar calculation. We didn't even ditch the car for the whole year in our calculation. And, we didn't even use a bike! We used a scooter instead.

Our calculation went something like this:

- The car would be garaged for 8 months per year, and taken off insurance
- The scooter would be taken off insurance for the 4 months the car is being used (winter)
- The car would be driven 75km/week in the four months it is used
- The scooter would be driven 75km/week in the two months when it is too cold to bike, but warm enough to use the scooter
- The scooter would be driven 20km/week in the six months when I can commute by bike as well
- The car gets about 23 mpg, or 10km/L
- The scooter gets 66 mpg, or about 28km/L (this is a low-ball figure, I've read claims of 70+ mpg)
- Gas prices are an average $1.10/L (gas isn't this expensive yet, but looking forward a year, it will probably be more)
- We would save about $250 a year in depreciation on the car, based on reduced mileage and wear&tear
- Insurance on the scooter is about $90/month less than the car
- We did not factor in mainentance costs on the car, since most of the damage would be done to it during the winter, when it will be driven regardless.

We combined all that and figures we'd save over $1000 a year by switching to a scooter. Oddly enough, it's cheaper to ride a scooter for eight months (at the above stated 20km/week) than it is to drive the car for six months, and ride a bike exclusively for the other six!!

It's funny because the scooter would only use $140 in gas for those six months. That's the price of a helmet and some new tires...
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Old 08-25-05, 04:05 PM   #15
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What does this hypothetical cyclocommuter do on the fifth day?

Why such a high labor time on the car? For $600/yr on my car, someone else is doing the work.

What about a 'moderate car' option? E.g. 2nd hand, 2-4 year old, under $10K with associated lower depreciation, bump up the maintenance budget a little bit.
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Old 08-25-05, 04:11 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiYoSilver
Interesting. The commute may be too short. If increase commute to 20 mile round trip it looks great for a cyclo-commuter.
Dollar costs:
Auto: $.81/mile.
Cyclo-commuter B- $.22/mile
Cyclo-commuterC- $27/mile.

Time costs:
Auto: 466 hrs/yr
cyclo.commuter B : 336 hrs
cyclo.commuter C: 287 hrs

Ha, I just calculated the $/mile for gas alone on a scooter, it comes to 3.8 cents. Of course, you have to buy the $2000 scooter first....
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Old 08-25-05, 04:19 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stubacca
What does this hypothetical cyclocommuter do on the fifth day?
auto commute. Assuming not commuting on snow and meeting days. I've been hitting about every day in last 2 months, but come sept I have to start driving one day a week to meet morning commitments.

Quote:
Why such a high labor time on the car? For $600/yr on my car, someone else is doing the work.
2 factors: time cost to you to earn $600 for paying others to fix the beast and maintenance time costs. Probably too low only 30 minutes per week for cleaning, and driving to repair shops time

Quote:
What about a 'moderate car' option? E.g. 2nd hand, 2-4 year old, under $10K with associated lower depreciation, bump up the maintenance budget a little bit.
You're welcome to create as many options as you'ld like. Depreciation is not lower, just the total. I was just starting so used something as a starting point. Good suggestion

Last edited by HiYoSilver; 08-25-05 at 04:25 PM.
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Old 08-25-05, 04:22 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeff-o
Ha, I just calculated the $/mile for gas alone on a scooter, it comes to 3.8 cents. Of course, you have to buy the $2000 scooter first....
and the helmet, jacket, gloves, riding pants, insurance and pass the written and driving tests. Real problem is gas is a small part of costs and scooters are just small motorcycles on training wheels. Maybe 50 to 60 mpg.
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Old 08-25-05, 04:44 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiYoSilver
auto commute. Assuming not commuting on snow and meeting days. I've been hitting about every day in last 2 months, but come sept I have to start driving one day a week to meet morning commitments.
So you'd need to include the cost of this in the bike commuter's costs, right? Even if you don't include the price of the car, you'd need to account for the additional gas/maintenance incurred.

Quote:
2 factors: time cost to you to earn $600 for paying others to fix the beast and maintenance time costs. Probably too low only 30 minutes for cleaning, and driving to repair shops time
Factoring in the time cost to earn the money sounds like double counting to me - isn't time cost just a separate way of viewing the scenario? If you're working out cost per mile, assuming you're working a full time job, you either spend the $600 or you don't. Mainly commented because 53 hours seems high to me - I wash my wife's car about once a month (roughly 12 hours per year) and servicing is 2-3 times per year (and dropping off the car only adds about half an hour each way to the standard commute to work).

Quote:
Depreciation is not lower, just the total.
Point was depreciation on a used car is lower than on a new car, which can decrease the yearly cost of operating the vehicle (since depreciation has to be factored in as a large part, and one of the major costs, of owning a vehicle). E.g. Our 4 year old car was purchased for $7500, originally sold for $17000. Original owner lost $9500 in depreciation over 4 years - we can't lose that much!

I think I'm not understanding how you're coming up with your yearly cost e.g. the $1919 for the car. For the bike, you're including the purchase price of the bike and estimating it depreciates to nothing over 2 years, right? How are you factoring in the purchase price/depreciation for the car to get the $1919 per year?
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Old 08-25-05, 04:48 PM   #20
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Not sure of the total amount of money I am saving by commuting three days a week. The other two days, I drive my Corolla. But, I haven't even started my Suburban in two weeks, so today I drove it down the road and back, just to make sure it still runs. I must be saving something. I do eat alot more though.
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Old 08-25-05, 05:55 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ivan_yulaev
For bike, you've got tires ($25 or so for a set, with tubes, if you shop around)
Chain ($20)
Cassette (every few chains, $40 or so)

Anything else, really?

Car costs rise dramatically due to mainetance, insurance. How does your bike cost $.50/mile?
I only know a few people who spend so little on their bike and certainly no one on these forums. Not that it can't be done, but I think many of us make the argument to ourselves that since we're not blowing money on our cars we can blow it on our bikes. Though it still ends up being much cheaper. Heck for the cost of gas, maintenance, loan payments, and insurance on a new car you could do away with bike maintenance, buy a new bike every year and still come out ahead.

Plus there are the health benefits that are so variable and hard to quantify in a monetary cost/benefit analysis.
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Old 08-25-05, 06:15 PM   #22
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I stole this from the advocacy forum. http://www.humantransport.org/bicycl...cyclinguse.htm There is a general table about halfway down, but I found the entire article to be quite interseting and informational. It should probably have it's own thread so more people might see it
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Old 08-25-05, 07:01 PM   #23
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Yeah, I posted the thread.

Stu, I'll have to get back to you later. As I said at the beginning this is a work in progress. I don't have the spreadsheet here and I have to drop this item until after labor day.

I really have to agree wholeheartedly with treespeed. My $500 in bike stuff is probably on the low side. I feel like it's actually been closer to $1,500. I just don't know how much is first time and how much is reoccuring.

Well have fun with the thread. I pick up later.
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Old 08-25-05, 08:29 PM   #24
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It's actually pretty simple, but you can't add in any riding clothes, as that is a personal expense/taste not required for the operation of the bike. other than a helmet clothes belong in a different catagory.

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Old 08-26-05, 05:42 AM   #25
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I also am in agreeus with Treespeed, I can spend $500 on gloves alone. I like to keep my bikes well maintained but I hate to do any of the maintence other than cleaning and maintaining the drive train, so I spend a LOT at the LBS. $25 for tires??? Are you kidding?
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