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5 Mile commute.

Old 02-11-24, 05:09 PM
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The average annual expense of riding a basic bike would be $100 to $300. (tubes, tires, replacement of bike parts - labor is free, since you will figure out and work on your own bike).

The average annual expense of riding a basic car would be $2,000 to $3,000. (annual registration, insurance, gas, oil changes, replacement of car parts, and occasional paid labor).


If you are replacing your car with a bike and you are getting rid of your car, you will save about $1,900 to $2,700 approximately. ($2,000-$100 to $3,000-$300)

If you are keeping the bike and are using it for your daily commute and running errands, basically making bike as your primary mode of commute, and also keeping your car, for traveling long distances, you will save just the gas spending, about $1,000 to $2,000, annually, since you will end up paying for annual registration and insurance on your car, anyway.

P.S. This is an approximate estimate of savings of yearly variable expense, in my personal case and if it was me pondering this situation. YMMV.

On Edit: Agree the savings may not be significant, depending on what job you have and what you make. However, when you ride a bike, you will gain significantly health-wise, and when you do your research and fix your bike on your own and get your hands dirty, you will feel more manly about yourself.

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Old 02-12-24, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Eyes Roll
I have commuted 5 miles one way, even on a small folding bike. In fact, the difference in time would only be an additional 5 to 10 minutes compared to riding a bigger road bike.
I almost mentioned this. Except I upped the gearing on my 20-inch Dahon Boardwalk folder, and it is a s a fast as my main 700c semi-tourer commuter.

But the ancient 16-inch Dahon Stowaway I'm rebuilding does indeed add 10 minutes to my commute, altough I'm in the process of upping that gearing also.
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Old 02-12-24, 06:36 PM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
If the OP commutes on his bike 5 days/week for 52 weeks instead of driving the car he already owns, he will "save" the car expenses of driving 2600 miles. His savings will only be linear for fuel, tolls and parking fees and a minimal amount of additional maintenance/tire cost costs. There will be no significant savings on the biggest slice of owning a car, the fixed costs - depreciation, insurance and loan interest. Of course only a wastrel or someone without financial concerns would suffer the depreciation and loan expenses incurred by buying and replacing a new car every five years if it is only used to commute 2600 miles a year.
First, I think you're underestimating commute distance by a factor of two. I read it as 5 miles each way, 10 miles a day, about 5,000 miles per year.

Second, by cutting down mileage on the car by 30-50%, a bike commuter can make the second car in the family last a lot longer. I paid my car off 15 years ago (but still have it). Cutting regular service by a half adds up, and the car's tires last twice as long. That adds up to real money. The only things that are not linear with miles driven are insurance and taxes.

Third, when gas prices were peaking, I found I could save $100/month just on gas. By that time I had most of the extras I needed or wanted for commuting, so I could afford new shorts (the major expense), tires, and chains for a year with a couple months' savings. Some of the rest I spent on nicer bike things, some on vacations and meals out. (It almost sounds like the old "spend the money you save on wine, women, and song, and waste the rest!")
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Old 02-12-24, 06:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Strawbunyan
would the Giant STP 26 geared bike fit this bill? I was considering that bike for the gears and front brake amd seemingly higher seat post.
I don't think anyone actually answered this question but yes, that should work just fine. Just make sure you can get the seat up high enough. A super low seat height is the thing for a BMX but not for a commuter. The knees appreciate being more stretched out when riding more than a few blocks or around the skate park.
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Old 02-12-24, 08:28 PM
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The OP never asked about money, but given the discussion, here's my take.

Bike commuting is like home gardening. You might think you are going to save a lot - but you don't. You start off like I did with essentially a new hobby and the sudden need to acquire a bunch of stuff. You find out that a bike will never compare to replacing a primary car. It will at best compare to replacing an old beater second car in the family. Replacing that second car isn't nothing, of course, but bike miles cost money, too.

Getting back to the garden, you are in the red for seeds, fencing, and everything else before you ever see one vegetable. And the vegetables you get come at the exact time when the store price is the least. Of course, if you commit to it, you can plant your own seeds and buy your own canning supplies, and do everything else just right and eventually start to come out ahead. I'm not going to hazard a guess whether bike commuting or home gardening is better for your health or budget.

One certainty of bike commuting is a constant drip of tiny expenses versus the constant fear of major repairs. With a commuter bike, it's always a tube, or a tire, or a lost glove, or a stretched chain, or a worn grip, or some other little $20 thing. Never a tow, alternator, or transmission for hundreds or thousands. Bike commuting is almost as easy and predictable to budget as taking the bus.

Also, while cars get into more expensive repairs as they age, bikes in some ways get cheaper. You only need to buy a multi-tool or a cable cutter once. You learn how to do more things yourself because you don't want to walk and your local bike shop is closed Mondays. You replace a sketchy part with a good part and you will be fine for thousands of miles.

With regard to the OP's question about 5 miles, I agree that almost any bike will do, provided his route is smooth (paved, boardwalk, concrete, etc) and not particularly mountainous. Five miles along a trail in the woods might change the calculus. Also, the nice thing about a shorter commute is that you can always stretch it out.
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Old 02-12-24, 09:51 PM
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Thank you all for the replys. Mrs. Strawbunyan and i have been sharing a vehichle for about 15 years now. We just got the current one paid off and we thought about a second one to make life easier but with it only being 5 miles i figured my health and the money saved not buying a second car and the environment were all good reasons to ride a bike instead and it appears that you all agree to some extent. After i get my bike ill post it here to let you know how it goes.
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Old 02-12-24, 10:31 PM
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I didn't own a car (and very rarely borrowed or rented one) till I was in my 30s. With no car payments, no gas, no car taxes and fees and little in insurance, I saved a lot of money. (And spending that extra money on bike doodads, more bikes ...? Well that's just a matter of priorities and discipline. In those days I had the discipline. I had my workhorse fix gear commuter with fenders, a lock, LowRiders and front panniers and my good bike. For decades.
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Old 02-12-24, 10:46 PM
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FWIW When selecting a commuter bike the biggest source of heartache can be chains and derailleurs. When I worked at a bike shop and later a Co-Op it seemed that every single problems went back to a derailleur adjustment, a bent derailleur hanger in some way or another. My advice echos GamblerGORD53 Something with an internal gear hub. I won't go so far as drum brakes...he is alone in that regard, as practical as they may really legitimately be, the cost of building wheels essentially from scratch is a surprisingly expensive proposition. You can always save that expense for the future, if & when you decide you'd like to do so. Instead, I'd look towards Linus or Public or Momentum and their 7 or 8 speed internal gear hubbed models. Significantly less maintenance for more or less the same cost as a model with a cheap and problem prone bottom tier derailleur. And you don't have to worry about it getting damaged in the bike rack or all the hassle of a bike shop repair, special order hanger, damaged wheel with ripped out spikes, etc...

I have a Public 8i Dutch style (apparently they only come in 7 speed now) and a Rohloff travel all-road disc bike. Neither has cost me much of anything beyond a $50 annual service/oil change. I have no problem spending stupid money on bikes. But for a 5 mile daily commuter the Public, Linus or Momentum IGH is a no-brainer.

Last edited by base2; 02-12-24 at 11:02 PM.
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Old 02-12-24, 10:54 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb
First, I think you're underestimating commute distance by a factor of two. I read it as 5 miles each way, 10 miles a day, about 5,000 miles per year.
Second, by cutting down mileage on the car by 30-50%, a bike commuter can make the second car in the family last a lot longer. I paid my car off 15 years ago (but still have it). Cutting regular service by a half adds up, and the car's tires last twice as long. That adds up to real money. The only things that are not linear with miles driven are insurance and taxes.

Third, when gas prices were peaking, I found I could save $100/month just on gas.
10 miles/day x 5 days a week x 52 weeks in a year = 2,600 miles a year, assuming OP cycles every single weekday all year long regardless of weather or personal health issues with zero days off for vacation, holidays or sick days.

How do you figure 5,000 miles a year? Your gas savings of $100/ month doesn't mean much without providing any info on how many miles were not driven and what kind of vehicle you were not driving.

Obviously not driving "X" miles a year by the use of a bicycle for commuting results in less fuel used and somewhat less wear and tear, but really; even at 20mpg a car driven only 2,600 miles uses 130 gallons a year and if that is all the car is used for, a modern (say from the last 30 years) compact car suitable for commuting such as a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla should last close to 40 years with little to no major maintenance or replacement of anything but wear and tear items such as windshield wiper blades, oil and filters, and a set of tires or two. And would require no purchase or replacement of specialized commuter clothing.

Repeating the bottom line: if bike commuting enables a person to get rid of a motor vehicle, he can enjoy a significant $ savings, if the cyclist does not reduce his count of motor vehicles owned, the $ savings isn't much to brag about; either way, the physical and mental benefits of bike commuting can be substantial regardless of the $ savings amount.

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Old 02-13-24, 07:38 AM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
Of course only a wastrel or someone without financial concerns would suffer the depreciation and loan expenses incurred by buying and replacing a new car every five years if it is only used to commute 2600 miles a year.
Are you saying one should drive a minimum number of miles per year to make the investment worthwhile? I can't agree with that. Each mile driven incurs costs. There is no mile in there that has a financial payoff.

If he can't get rid of the car -- and that could be true for many reasons --, then bike commuting is not going to change his life financially. But it's not likely to make his life more expensive, either.

And I'm glad we agree that, despite where we stand on the cost of car ownership, bike commuting is a good idea for other reasons.
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Old 02-13-24, 07:45 AM
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Originally Posted by stevel610
I think a 5 mile commute is just right.
Agreed! For me, I like it to be between 3 and 7 miles. If it's less than 3 miles, walking starts to make more sense, though I did once have a 1.4 mile commute that I usually cycled. When it's more than 7 miles, I can get tired, and I end up having reasons not to ride often. I can endure any crappy weather when it's 7 miles or less. My current commute is 13 miles each way, so cycling is not my primary way of doing it. I take the NYC subway most days. Cycling takes longer, especially because I have to gather more gear, put on more clothing (such as helmet, trouser bands), and lock the bike up when I arrive. I tried doing it every day, and it made me too tired throughout the week. The most I was able to do was 3 days a week.
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Old 02-13-24, 07:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Strawbunyan
Thank you all for the replys. Mrs. Strawbunyan and i have been sharing a vehichle for about 15 years now. We just got the current one paid off and we thought about a second one to make life easier but with it only being 5 miles i figured my health and the money saved not buying a second car and the environment were all good reasons to ride a bike instead and it appears that you all agree to some extent. After i get my bike ill post it here to let you know how it goes.
I don't know your situation, but my guess is that a bike rack for the shared car would do a lot. Mrs. Strawbunyan could drop you off or pick you up on her way to other things, and you could bike the rest. That also suggests getting a bike that you are comfortable doing more miles on, as well as asking Mrs. Strawbunyan if she would like her own bike.
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Old 02-13-24, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider
Are you saying one should drive a minimum number of miles per year to make the investment worthwhile? I can't agree with that. Each mile driven incurs costs. There is no mile in there that has a financial payoff.

If he can't get rid of the car -- and that could be true for many reasons --, then bike commuting is not going to change his life financially. But it's not likely to make his life more expensive, either.
What I have been saying is that there is no reason to incur the unnecessary financial burden from buying, owning and replacing a new car with another new car every five years in order to commute 2,600 miles a year. A far cheaper well maintained used car can be used for the same purpose, and not need to be replaced for anywhere near as frequently as is assumed in government reimbursement rates for use of a motor vehicle for business purposes.

An alleged savings of 67 cents for each mile of bicycle commuting is highly inflated and incorrectly adapted from rates based on studies of typical motor vehicle yearly use and large losses due to depreciation associated with frequent replacement.

Nobody claimed that bike commuting would make the OP's or anyone else's life more expensive.

It is not necessary to justify riding a bicycle to commute by citing inapplicable rates of "savings" per mile and non-applicable government "deductions."

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Old 02-13-24, 09:44 AM
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Thanks for clarifying, @I-Like-To-Bike. I agree that buying a new car every five years is not justified to commute that distance. In fact, I think buying a new car every five years is not justified in nearly every case. You brought up this idea of buying a new car every five years, and I don't know why, so I don't know why you are knocking it down. No one put it forth as an assumption.

67 cents a mile might be an average, and it's definitely possible to run a car for a lower rate than that. I've never bought a new car, so there's a start to more frugal car ownership. So yes, if you are more frugal with cars than the government assumes, your savings from switching from car commuting to bike commuting will be less than 67 cents a mile. But it's almost certain there will be savings. I expect you will agree with that, and if not, I'm eager to hear how.
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Old 02-13-24, 10:21 AM
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The dirty little secret that I have never seen discussed on these forums is the pennies per mile to ride a bike. Take everything bike related (including shop repairs, special underpants, shoes, parts, tools, upgrades, whole bikes, tires, etc) you ever bought over a certain time period, and divide by the number of miles you rode.

Many beginners no doubt have a $700 bike with 100 miles on it and are in the dollars per mile category.
Many others ride cheap bikes into the ground and are probably at $0.10 per mile. Even then, a 20 mile ride costs a couple of bucks worth of bike wear.

I would guess that many here are around $0.50 per mile, but I have no actual data.

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Old 02-13-24, 11:29 AM
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There's a hundred ways to look at this, the car, the bike and exercise costs. The OP goes 20% the miles that many do.
I hardly used my 2005 Chrys300 in the summer and when I was working it wasn't far. So at 15 years old it still had no rust, original battery and brakes, could easily have kept it another 10 years. My present car, I saved $20,000 on a year old demo with way more upgrades than I would want and it still cost twice as much.
I took it across Canada and back thru 22 states in 2019, with the 3 speed on the roof that I rode 12 days. Oil once a year. Car tires age out too and are needed every 6 years.

So the way I see the OP situation is either him or his wife takes the bus, say $6 a day. What about car parking? That soon adds up to a free bike. Maybe less car washes etc. OP likely already qualifies for low mileage insurance.
He will surely also ride on weekends to great health benefit, besides it's just plain fun. Unless he gets a complicated derailleur bike with gears NOT needed and far more difficult to service.
I ride 3,500 miles most years. The yellow 3 speed has 6,650 miles since I got it in 2017. Cost $173 plus about $400 for the new wheels, $44 pedals and $240 for my DIY stem. Only costs 2 cents a mile now for chain and tires.
It won't be easy to ride every day in weather that can also be too fricking hot. The day I was in Nashville late Sept., it was high 90s, so all I could do was drive the airconditioned car. My motel was an easy 5 miles from DT.

Last edited by GamblerGORD53; 02-13-24 at 12:06 PM.
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Old 02-13-24, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by ScottCommutes
The dirty little secret that I have never seen discussed on these forums is the pennies per mile to ride a bike. Take everything bike related (including shop repairs, special underpants, shoes, parts, tools, upgrades, whole bikes, tires, etc) you ever bought over a certain time period, and divide by the number of miles you rode.

Many beginners no doubt have a $700 bike with 100 miles on it and are in the dollars per mile category.
Many others ride cheap bikes into the ground and are probably at $0.10 per mile. Even then, a 20 mile ride costs a couple of bucks worth of bike wear.

I would guess that many here are around $0.50 per mile, but I have no actual data.
Oh man, everything has a unit cost. You seem really intent on making cycle commuting into a prohibitively expensive undertaking.

So i just bought some nice shoes, they were on sale so only cost about $100. What a deal, I thought to myself! But then i realized that because i sit in a chair in front of my computer all day long at work, my per step cost for the shoes was astronomical! Like in the last few weeks of ownership, i probably walked like 100 steps in them. So $1 a step!

What a dirty little secret the manufacturers of work shoes hid from me! All of the sudden i realized that the "deal" was anything but!

But in all seriousness, we have a bad sample here. People who commute by bike and spend time writing about it in a bike forum are going to probably do it more elaborately than the 99% of people who lock up beater bikes outside the local train station overnight, and for whom spending nothing on the bike is a strategy to keep it from being stolen. But these "multimodal" commuters, who very conceivably ride 10 miles rt from the train station (Or who have another beater locked up at the station closer to home, so 10 miles rt on two bikes) are probably closer to the average commuter than anyone here. Especially anyone with a gear list like yours. And i can guarantee you they didn't spend 700 on their bikes. Like under 100 probably and then they didn't even "restore" or "restomod" a single thing, so their bikes actually cost 100.

People who are here are not a good representation of bike commuters. In my estimation, i could very well be wrong, since i am here.

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Old 02-13-24, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by ScottCommutes
The dirty little secret that I have never seen discussed on these forums is the pennies per mile to ride a bike. Take everything bike related (including shop repairs, special underpants, shoes, parts, tools, upgrades, whole bikes, tires, etc) you ever bought over a certain time period, and divide by the number of miles you rode.

Many beginners no doubt have a $700 bike with 100 miles on it and are in the dollars per mile category.
Many others ride cheap bikes into the ground and are probably at $0.10 per mile. Even then, a 20 mile ride costs a couple of bucks worth of bike wear.

I would guess that many here are around $0.50 per mile, but I have no actual data.
You're new here, right? We've had quite a few discussions over the years. FWIW, last time I tried to add everything up (including bikes, accessories, clothes, etc.) I came up with 3-7 cents per mile.

Some people do their best to skew the numbers. They will claim I cheated -- I did not account for all the steaks (though I really eat only one a month or so) -- extra food to fuel all those miles! I also included recreational riding, which some people were adamant should NOT be included, only commuting miles count. And only the shortest distance, don't count the long way home. Etc. These are often the same people who claim you should not count on saving $0.67 per mile driving, even though your current vehicle may save you from trading it in and buying a new one. Chip on their shoulder, maybe?

Commuting cyclists do some of the most consistent cycling. The people who buy a $4,000 bike for a couple hundred miles per summer? They're not riding to and from work every day. (But they move the average cost!) A good bicycle will last a very long time, so the cyclo-commuter will amortize their bike cost down to nearly zero per mile. Then the only recurring costs are brakes, tires, chains, and perhaps bar tape on the bike. Bike shorts and perhaps cleats are recurring costs on the body -- bike jerseys hardly ever wear out.
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Old 02-13-24, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Frkl
People who are here are not a good representation of bike commuters. In my estimation, i could very well be wrong, since i am here.
You are correct. One look at the "commuter bikes" posted on this list and comparison with a look at the bikes parked at work places, stores and public building and the people who ride them to those destinations in almost any city in the U.S., let alone in your country (Germany), would confirm your observation.
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Old 02-13-24, 12:58 PM
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​​​​I wish everyone else would stop cluttering this thread with debates on the comparative costs of commuting by bike or car. Start your own thread

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Old 02-13-24, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb
You're new here, right? We've had quite a few discussions over the years. FWIW, last time I tried to add everything up (including bikes, accessories, clothes, etc.) I came up with 3-7 cents per mile.

Some people do their best to skew the numbers. They will claim I cheated -- I did not account for all the steaks (though I really eat only one a month or so) -- extra food to fuel all those miles! I also included recreational riding, which some people were adamant should NOT be included, only commuting miles count. And only the shortest distance, don't count the long way home. Etc. These are often the same people who claim you should not count on saving $0.67 per mile driving, even though your current vehicle may save you from trading it in and buying a new one. Chip on their shoulder, maybe?

Commuting cyclists do some of the most consistent cycling. The people who buy a $4,000 bike for a couple hundred miles per summer? They're not riding to and from work every day. (But they move the average cost!) A good bicycle will last a very long time, so the cyclo-commuter will amortize their bike cost down to nearly zero per mile. Then the only recurring costs are brakes, tires, chains, and perhaps bar tape on the bike. Bike shorts and perhaps cleats are recurring costs on the body -- bike jerseys hardly ever wear out.
good points. all life-cycle cost analyses need to be taken with a grain of salt. it is very easy to skew the results by including or bracketing off one thing or another. and it is usually not because of intentional bias--it has more to do with legitimate convictions that a cost is a "legitimate" or "illegitimate" factor to be included.

for instance, if I credited my opportunity cost for the time I save commuting by bike rather than driving, finding parking, then walking to my office from my parking spot...WOW! This is arguably an ok thing to do. But arguably also a "bit" artificial.
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Old 02-13-24, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider
Thanks for clarifying, @I-Like-To-Bike. I agree that buying a new car every five years is not justified to commute that distance. In fact, I think buying a new car every five years is not justified in nearly every case. You brought up this idea of buying a new car every five years, and I don't know why, so I don't know why you are knocking it down. No one put it forth as an assumption.

67 cents a mile might be an average, and it's definitely possible to run a car for a lower rate than that. I've never bought a new car, so there's a start to more frugal car ownership. So yes, if you are more frugal with cars than the government assumes, your savings from switching from car commuting to bike commuting will be less than 67 cents a mile. But it's almost certain there will be savings. I expect you will agree with that, and if not, I'm eager to hear how.
I brought up the idea of buying a new car every five years Response to 67¢ per mile savings after you stated a 67¢/savings for every mile of bike commuting (as well as an alleged deduction for same). I made a reference to the AAA 's Driving Cost calculator which also compiles fixed and variable costs to arrive at a cost per mile rate for operating a motor vehicle. "AAA’s estimates of the cost to own a vehicle are based on financing a vehicle, owning and driving it for five years, and trading in that vehicle at the end of those five years."
I stated that this reference assumed that the government mileage rate (GSA or IRS) is calculated on a model similar to the AAA "driving cost" per mile figure.
IRS provides this information about the mileage rate determination at IRS mileage determination

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2024, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) is:

67 cents per mile driven for business use
21 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes.

The standard mileage rate for business use is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs.
Hence over 2/3 of the IRS mileage rate derives from fixed costs, of which depreciation is almost always the largest slice.

Another bottom line: - the variable costs of motor vehicle operation "saved" by substituting a bicycle for motor vehicle use for at most 2,600 miles/year of commuting is minimal, unless it saves spending exorbitant amounts on parking fees and tolls.
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Old 02-13-24, 02:29 PM
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Still, I don't think it makes sense to claim that adding miles to your driving is a way to save money. You haven't claimed it, but it seems like you're hinting it. I'm happy to learn I'm wrong about that.

AAA's calculus seems silly to me since it is based on the replace-every-five-years plan. It's a silly plan. Certainly those fixed costs are high, but it's a choice one would make, and not a rational one in almost every case. And no wonder you bring up depreciation. Depreciation never bothered me, since I keep a car until it is nearly worthless. I get value out of my cars by using them. Selling them is a terrible way to make or even preserve money. For someone like me, a car depreciates by the mile far more than by the year.

I'll put it another way. If you have a trip to take -- outside of commuting -- which could be done easily in a car or on a bike (or on foot), there is no economic reason in favor of driving the car. Adding miles does not yield more money. So whatever the marginal cost of a mile is in a car, you save that much money by not driving it.
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Old 02-13-24, 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider
If you have a trip to take -- outside of commuting -- which could be done easily in a car or on a bike (or on foot), there is no economic reason in favor of driving the car. Adding miles does not yield more money. So whatever the marginal cost of a mile is in a car, you save that much money by not driving it.
True, if the alternative is an inexpensive day trip on a bicycle or foot. Bicycle and walking trips that would turn a day trip into one requiring overnight lodging throws the economics into a tailspin. Even more realistically, trips beyond the range of practical foot or bicycle travel may be cheaper by alternate means such as mass transit ONLY if those alternatives are available and meet the requirements of the traveler for time, convenience, comfort and safety.
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Old 02-13-24, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Frkl
You seem really intent on making cycle commuting into a prohibitively expensive undertaking.
I honestly believe that you have misread my intentions. My one and only bike was free - a castoff from our church that a priest left behind when he moved to a new assignment. My wife's one and only bike (my backup) was from the curb, as were my two sons' bikes. My daughter's bike was handed down to her by my older son. I consider myself the opposite of turning cycling into an expensive undertaking.

I do have to reliably commute 19 miles each way to work every day in all conditions - hurricanes, floods, snow, 15F-90F, etc. I broke a seat post and bought a new one for $20. I wore out a derailleur and bought a new one for $15. I broke a cable and bought a new one. I broke a spoke and bought a new one. I go out of my way to ride a dirt cheap bike and maintain it myself. I tried to be realistic about my expenses so others might know an example of what is actually involved with full-time commuting.
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