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Interesting comments on a "Save gas" article

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Interesting comments on a "Save gas" article

Old 10-18-12, 10:27 AM
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Interesting comments on a "Save gas" article

I was doing some work online today and ran across an article from Yahoo about saving gas $. I decided to read it to see if they even mentioned a bike. Of course the article didn't mention our favorite way yo get to wokr but LOTS of comments about commuting via bike were posted. Maybe the world is coming around now that gas is in the high 4's.

http://shine.yahoo.com/financially-fit/genius-ways-save-gas-193600698.html
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Old 10-18-12, 10:40 AM
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Gas is about $3.60 a gallon around here....
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 10-18-12, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
Gas is about $3.60 a gallon around here....
In the lovely land of California we have a "winter blend" of gas and the price skyrockets. Gas was nearing $5 for regular. I felt good only knowing the gas price because I rode by the stations and saw how high they were. I suppose high gas prices is relative though.

I was just surprised to see so many positive comments about taking another means of transportation aside from driving a car in the comments under that article I posted.
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Old 10-18-12, 02:15 PM
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The most effective way to save money on a commodity, including gasoline, is to buy less of it. The thing is that many people (most Americans?) are unable or unwilling to make the choices that would make that possible.
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Old 10-18-12, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
The most effective way to save money on a commodity, including gasoline, is to buy less of it. The thing is that many people (most Americans?) are unable or unwilling to make the choices that would make that possible.
I think most people are unwilling to inconvenience themselves to cut back on gasoline. I acknowledge that there are times when you really need an automobile (like when I need to transport my kids in winter time when it's -20 F, I wouldn't take the risk of putting them in a bike trailer and my wife is pregnant so hauling two kids around with a bike plus one inside her isn't going to work too well), but for people that just need to go to work and back a bicycle makes perfect sense. Unless, of course, you live dozens of miles away from work. That is where America is very different from Europe and Asia. Biking is easier in Europe and Asia because things aren't so spread out. I work with people who drive 90 miles one way to work every day, and then do that again on their way home. That kind of lifestyle is pretty much non-existent in Europe and most of Asia.
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Old 10-18-12, 02:58 PM
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I think we'll see a migration back into the cities coupled with improvements to public transportation and urban biking.

I've already noticed fewer large SUVs on the road, and many more "crossovers" (i.e. minivans that look like SUVs), so people are trying to save gas where they can.

The biggest complaints among my friends when it comes to biking:
1. How to transport 1-3 year-olds and the required gear (diapers, toys, food, etc.)
2. Too dangerous to go on busy roads (suburbs mean minimum 35mph speed limit and lots of distracted soccer moms)
3. Live too far from work (>20 miles, so it would take much longer than driving)
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Old 10-18-12, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by spivonious View Post
I think we'll see a migration back into the cities coupled with improvements to public transportation and urban biking.
Agreed. I know that several of the people I work with who commute long distances are wanting to move closer to work. The problem for many of them, though, is that of them works close to one city, and their spouse works in a different city in the opposite direction. I'm a firm believer in living near where you work, so I wouldn't take a job that required me to commute very far unless I could move closer to the job. Right now my wife stays home with the kids, but if she had to work I know that we would both be in agreement that she wouldn't work far from home. It would be way too costly to be shuttling our family all over the place.

When I was growing up, we never lived more than 5 miles away from my father's place of employment. And when my mother started working when I got older, she never worked more than about 4 miles from home. I think that's going to be the mindset of the next generation, too.
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Old 10-18-12, 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
Gas is about $3.60 a gallon around here....
My stomach gas is free
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Old 10-18-12, 09:30 PM
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Originally Posted by erig007 View Post
My stomach gas is free
I had Tex-Mex for dinner...
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Old 10-19-12, 06:54 AM
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Originally Posted by kookaburra1701 View Post
I had Tex-Mex for dinner...
... and therefore, in addition to free gas, you also have a tail wind!
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Old 10-19-12, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by spivonious View Post
I think we'll see a migration back into the cities...
I would have to say that it also depends where people live and work. Moving from some NYC suburbs back into the heart of the City can double or even triple your living expenses. Lots of people live where they do because they can't afford to live closer.
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Old 10-19-12, 07:31 AM
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Ok... now let's REALLY throw a wrench in the equation...

Let's say you are a very fit person... and not cycling to LOSE weight. You commute at a pace of about 15 mph. In one hour, you've burned about 600 calories. "Healthy" food will cost you about 1 cent per calorie... so to refuel your body, you'd need to put $6.00 of fuel back into your body. $6.00 paid for 15 miles of travel. Yes, you've saved gas, saved the environment, saved your health... but not money.

Now... to get even FURTHER into it. Agricultural businesses use fuel to produce food. If we use a "gasoline equivalent"... 1 gallon of gasoline is used to produce about 3,000 calories worth of food. So... 75 miles of biking would technically use a gallon of gas.

In short... bike to save the planet and save/improve your health... but saving money or gas? Not so much.
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Old 10-19-12, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by TampaRaleigh View Post
Ok... now let's REALLY throw a wrench in the equation...

Let's say you are a very fit person... and not cycling to LOSE weight. You commute at a pace of about 15 mph. In one hour, you've burned about 600 calories. "Healthy" food will cost you about 1 cent per calorie... so to refuel your body, you'd need to put $6.00 of fuel back into your body. $6.00 paid for 15 miles of travel. Yes, you've saved gas, saved the environment, saved your health... but not money.

Now... to get even FURTHER into it. Agricultural businesses use fuel to produce food. If we use a "gasoline equivalent"... 1 gallon of gasoline is used to produce about 3,000 calories worth of food. So... 75 miles of biking would technically use a gallon of gas.

In short... bike to save the planet and save/improve your health... but saving money or gas? Not so much.
That definitely isn't true.

If we take your numbers, assuming they are correct on the 1 cent per calorie figure, biking saves a TON of money. The IRS prices car travel at $1+ per mile, AAA prices it at between $0.46 and $0.8, depending on vehicle. Most people concerned about the price of gas would be driving a "small sedan", so let's assume it's closer to $0.50 a mile. At that rate, taking a car 15 miles would cost $7.5 vs $6 to bike.

Now lets take the 1 cent per calorie figure and revise that. I buy Clif brand protein bars, 20g per bar, tons of vitamins, low glycemic, taste good. They are about 360 calories per, and about $1 each on sale, otherwise about $1.5. So lets just say you eat one a bit before you bike and one after, that's over 700 calories for $2-3, not $6. If it were 1 cent per calorie, I'd have to spend $35 a day to eat healthy, which definitely isn't the case. I eat VERY well, for about $15 a day.

Now let's say you bike 15 miles each way, 5x a week. Let's also assume that since you're eating 10 bars a week, you buy them in bulk to get the better price of $1 each. That's $20 a week in Clif brand protein bars (surely there are plenty of other similar ones). Even at the low end of what AAA estimates for cost per mile for 2011, 30 miles per day 5 days a week would cost $75. Over the course of a 49 week year (no commuting while on vacation or sick) that works out to a price difference of $2,695.

Now for the real fun estimates...

Let's assume you bike 15mph, so it's exactly 2 hours a day. The average commute time in the US is 25 minutes for 15 miles (coincidentally), by car, which averages 36mph Now let's assume that you value your physique and health so you want to have 5 hours a week of moderate exercise. That means 1/2 of your bike commute is "exercise time" and not "commute time"...the fact that you get to/from work while exercising is a bonus. So now you have 1 hour exercise/1 hour commute on bike, 30 miles round trip, only 1 of the 2 hours spent on a bike is commute, the other is exercise you'd have to do at a gym if you drove.

So biking is 1 hour a day (plus 1 hour of exercise), 30 miles, cost of $4 a day in Clif bars.
Driving is 50 minutes a day (plus 1 hour in exercise), cost of $15 a day.

Driving saves 10 minutes per day at the cost of $11 in commuting expenses (plus whatever one might pay for a gym). For this to be worthwhile, one would have to make $66/hr. If the gym is even 5 minutes out of the way, driving would only save 5 minutes a day and thus one would need to make $132/hr for it to be worthwhile.

Now let's use more reasonable numbers. Cyclists usually aren't willing to live in a dumpy exurban McMansion, so let's reduce that bike commute down to something more realistic, say 7.5 each way. Now you have exactly an hour a day on bike, which ENTIRELY counts for exercise, not commute. So your commuting time per day is effectively ZERO.

So biking in this case is 0 hours per day (plus 1 hour exercise), 15 miles, costs $2 a day in Clif bars.
Driving the same would be 25 minutes per day (plus 1 hour exercise), cost of $7.5 a day

In this case driving takes an additional 25 minute a day and costs an additional $5.5 a day.

Which is why I say that I don't have TIME or MONEY to waste driving. In my exact case (my distance and location), biking saves me an average of 35 minutes per day and about $4. In other words, I'd have to pay $4 for the privilege of wasting 35 minutes a day in a small metal cage.
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Old 10-19-12, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by TampaRaleigh View Post
Ok... now let's REALLY throw a wrench in the equation...

Let's say you are a very fit person... and not cycling to LOSE weight. You commute at a pace of about 15 mph. In one hour, you've burned about 600 calories. "Healthy" food will cost you about 1 cent per calorie... so to refuel your body, you'd need to put $6.00 of fuel back into your body. $6.00 paid for 15 miles of travel. Yes, you've saved gas, saved the environment, saved your health... but not money.

Now... to get even FURTHER into it. Agricultural businesses use fuel to produce food. If we use a "gasoline equivalent"... 1 gallon of gasoline is used to produce about 3,000 calories worth of food. So... 75 miles of biking would technically use a gallon of gas.

In short... bike to save the planet and save/improve your health... but saving money or gas? Not so much.
It's a fair question, but you forgot to subtract the calories you would have burned anyway just sitting in a car or on a bus. As a nice round number, I'd say a fit and active 175 lb male would burn 200kcal/hr at low activity. So the net increase is only 400kcal/hr.

As I said, it's a fair question -- just pointing that out.
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Old 10-19-12, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by shepherdsflock View Post
Agreed. I know that several of the people I work with who commute long distances are wanting to move closer to work.
I know someone who just got a sweet Federal job at the BLM office in Moab. But she lives in Grand Junction, 100 miles away. She's planning on commuting it every day I guess. Her previous job was a 10 minute commute across town. They own a house in GJ and her husband has a good (?) job here. They also have a 2 yo who I think she was able to take to work with her at her last job, so I'm not sure what they will do there. I wonder how it will all play out. Maybe they will move to Moab. In the meantime it's a hell of a commute, all interstate and highway, not much traffic, kind of remote, can be very bad in winter.

That reminds me. I need to update my USAjobs saved searches to include Utah. I'd move there pretty quick if I could get into a BLM job! (We rent.)
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Old 10-19-12, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by ratdog View Post
I would have to say that it also depends where people live and work. Moving from some NYC suburbs back into the heart of the City can double or even triple your living expenses. Lots of people live where they do because they can't afford to live closer.
Right, but many of us don't do a good job on estimating the real costs of driving.

[h=1]The True Cost of Commuting[/h]
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Old 10-19-12, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by TampaRaleigh View Post
Let's say you are a very fit person... and not cycling to LOSE weight.
and what is that, like 10% of the US population?

for the rest of us who live in the real world, bike commuting is a FANTASTIC way to help keep weight under control (something i have struggled with my entire life). at my biggest i was just over 250 pounds (and i'm only 5'-9"). after bike commuting for two years i got down to 175, a tremendous achievement. i didn't spend a single penny more on food than i had previously. actually i started spending LESS money on food because i decided to start eating LESS food once i saw the benefits that came with weight loss from physical activity.

now i use my 30 miles of daily commuting to help maintain my weight. i do not eat any extra food at all to compensate for my bike riding because my metabolism is so frustratingly efficient (if there's ever a global-level famine, i will outlive all of you other clowns, hands down). so yes, bike commuting absolutely saves me money because biking to work is free, but a roundtrip train ticket is $8.00.
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Old 10-19-12, 11:26 AM
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Well written, but not entirely realistic. For instance the write up ignores the fact that mortgages are based on salary level and that most of us cant just decide to buy a house that is xyz amount more because we want to get closer to work. It also glosses over the fact that some people's jobs are very specialized and not as easily replaceable by a position in the suburbs. But it was entertaining to read if read slowly with the understanding that the author is trying to substantiate his point of view with numbers but that the total argument does have a few holes and assumptions.
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Old 10-19-12, 11:32 AM
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I have several co-workers who think I am crazy to commute by bicycle. Even the 40-pound weight loss isn't enough to convince them. They commute to work by themselves in Tahoes and extended-cab Silverado and F-150 pickups. I think using a 5,000 pound gas-guzzling truck built for towing heavy trailers to haul one person and a cup of coffee every day is absolutely insane.
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Old 10-19-12, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by ratdog View Post
Well written, but not entirely realistic. For instance the write up ignores the fact that mortgages are based on salary level and that most of us cant just decide to buy a house that is xyz amount more because we want to get closer to work. It also glosses over the fact that some people's jobs are very specialized and not as easily replaceable by a position in the suburbs. But it was entertaining to read if read slowly with the understanding that the author is trying to substantiate his point of view with numbers but that the total argument does have a few holes and assumptions.
A fair point. It works for him, but by arguing the extreme end of his point, he shows me that many of us could move somewhere in that direction, if not to the extreme end of the spectrum. My car is a 2002 VW Passat wagon and probably weighs over 3,200 pounds. Not as bad as an SUV or extended cab pickup, but still very wasteful for a single occupant. Single occupant cars are a crime.

I read about a year ago that MOST car trips in the US are three miles or less. Is that crazy or what?
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Old 10-19-12, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Bluish Green View Post
I think using a 5,000 pound gas-guzzling truck built for towing heavy trailers to haul one person and a cup of coffee every day is absolutely insane.
I agree; absolutely insane. However, remember that insanity is a social definition. Given the huge numbers of people that use "gas-guzzling truck" or equivalent vehicles to get themselves to work and back every day, I fear we are the ones society labels as "insane."

Does that bother me? No, not at all. I will continue to ride my bike to and from work regardless. My dream that one day society will switch the labels around will probably remain a dream in my lifetime (I'm 62, so almost over anyway!). I do think that time will come, just not in time for me to witness it.

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Old 10-19-12, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Bluish Green View Post
I have several co-workers who think I am crazy to commute by bicycle. Even the 40-pound weight loss isn't enough to convince them. They commute to work by themselves in Tahoes and extended-cab Silverado and F-150 pickups. I think using a 5,000 pound gas-guzzling truck built for towing heavy trailers to haul one person and a cup of coffee every day is absolutely insane.
This is pretty typical here too. The argument is that they need this vehicle for hauling the boat or the trailer or picking up a cord of firewood. Which may be 5% of the time. The other 95% of the time, it's a huge waste of resources. The Car Talk guys have discussed this a couple of times when callers have asked the question about what's the right car. Tom and Ray have argued (with math!) that it would be far less costly to rent a truck on those occasions and get a cheaper, more efficient vehicle for the rest of the time. Of course, this assumes that the average American car consumer is open to reason and arithmetic.
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Old 10-19-12, 12:34 PM
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Big assumption, I know.

People tell me it's pretty risky to ride in NJ traffic. When I tell them it's even riskier to drive in it, they just don't believe me.

I gotta dig up some citations...
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Old 10-19-12, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Rick@OCRR View Post
I agree; absolutely insane. However, remember that insanity is a social definition. Given the huge numbers of people that use "gas-guzzling truck" or equivalent vehicles to get themselves to work and back every day, I fear we are the ones society labels as "insane."

Does that bother me? No, not at all. I will continue to ride my bike to and from work regardless. My dream that one day society will switch the labels around will probably remain a dream in my lifetime (I'm 62, so almost over anyway!). I do think that time will come, just not in time for me to witness it.

Rick / OCRR
+1

In marching band in HS the band director told us once, "If you are the only one in step, then you are out of step. Get in step!"

I'm afraid people who ride bikes regularly in the US ARE out of step. So be it.
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Old 10-19-12, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by TampaRaleigh View Post
Ok... now let's REALLY throw a wrench in the equation...

Let's say you are a very fit person... and not cycling to LOSE weight. You commute at a pace of about 15 mph. In one hour, you've burned about 600 calories. "Healthy" food will cost you about 1 cent per calorie... so to refuel your body, you'd need to put $6.00 of fuel back into your body. $6.00 paid for 15 miles of travel. Yes, you've saved gas, saved the environment, saved your health... but not money.

Now... to get even FURTHER into it. Agricultural businesses use fuel to produce food. If we use a "gasoline equivalent"... 1 gallon of gasoline is used to produce about 3,000 calories worth of food. So... 75 miles of biking would technically use a gallon of gas.

In short... bike to save the planet and save/improve your health... but saving money or gas? Not so much.
If you're naturally a fit person, it means that your body metabolize enough to burn as much calories as you gain eating. So you're right it shouldn't change a dime.

But in reality it does affect the health which impact your wallet
-days at work missed being ill due to weaker body defenses (lung problems, sudden death excepted due to pollution),
-decrease of brain performance due to a lack of oxygenation of the brain and tissues,
-slower pace and health problems due to a lack of joints elasticity,
-cardiac arrests risks (because you're fit doesn't mean you carry less bad fat)
-etc

There is other impacts on your wallet:
-health problem due to pollution which affect people which affect taxes
-pollution which affect building and agriculture which affect taxes
-gasoline, steel, electronic and other parts of the car vs bike which affect taxes (depending if imported or produced locally)
-overall bike gears cost less than a car
-etc


But in matter of money taking the car has some advantages:
-less taxes related to the fact that the car which has more parts than a bike could help with jobs which would help with taxes (depending on where the car and the bike come from)
-time saved going to work which save you time which save you money (depending if going by bike is slower or faster than going by car) but going by bike make you arrived more awake than by car which increase efficiency at work for a few hours
-etc

Last edited by erig007; 10-19-12 at 01:07 PM.
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