So you’re thinking about becoming a bike commuter and wondering, “How Much Money Does Biking to Work Save?” It’s a tricky question to answer, because there are a few different factors to consider. In this article I will dig into the details so that you can get a clearer picture of how much money you’ll save by riding a bike compared to a vehicle or public transportation.
The quick answer is that riding your bike to work does in fact save you money. Even if you have to pay for a bike and helmet it’s a small price compared to purchasing a car, insurance, and gas. When I was commuting 10 miles round trip to work on my bike I saved over $1,000 that year. Depending on the length of your bike commute you could be saving even more. Bike commuting is a no-brainer if you’re looking to save some extra cash. It’s also a great way to get in better physical shape and help our environment. What’s holding you back from bicycling to work? Give it a shot!
Do you already own a bicycle and the proper gear?
The starting cost to becoming a bike commuter is the largest expense if you don’t already own a bike. You don’t need the latest and greatest bicycle, but you do need something that isn’t garbage. Fortunately, you can often find a decent bike on Craigslist (or your local equivalent) for around $200. While looking to purchase a commuter bike you should be looking for a ride that is comfortable, fits you, and is within your budget.
I really want to highlight the fact that you don’t need a brand new $1200 carbon bike with all the bells and whistles. In the photo below you can see the steel framed Schwinn Continental that I used to ride to work for a year. This was my father’s bicycle from the 1970’s. It fit me, had a sturdy frame, and worked great for my commute. Don’t feel pressured into getting something fancy, but just get a bike that works for you.
A bike can cost you anywhere from $200 to $1200 dollars depending on what you purchase. This is the largest expense of bike commuting. Once you’ve got a bike the rest of the equipment is relatively cheap. The only other gear that is absolutely necessary is a bike helmet, multi tool, and tubes. We recommend the Giro Reverb Helmet which runs around $50 (you can read our review here). You can pick up tubes and a multi-tool for less than $25. The tool and tubes are essential in fixing a potential flat tire.
There is other gear that you could use for a bike commute such as panniers, lights, bags, cycling clothes, and more. These can be nice things to have to make the ride more enjoyable or easier, but they aren’t necessary. We’ll be sticking to the basic essential gear in this article while looking at cost.
If you don’t own a bike, helmet, tools, and tubes than you’re looking at spending a minimum of approximately ~$300 at the start of this endeavor. While this might be a steep beginning cost you must compare it to the cost of other modes of transportation. Purchasing a motorized vehicle is going to cost significantly more than $300 dollars. If you don’t drive your own personal vehicle, but take public transportation than you will need to look at the transportation fares. In my city it costs $95 to ride the public transportation for a month. In three months I would have covered the $300 to get a bike, helmet, and gear.
The Cost of Cycling Compared to Driving
According to the IRS’ 2018 standard mileage rates, the cost of driving is 54 cents per mile. This cost includes gas, insurance, depreciation, and maintenance. This is an average rate and the cost would vary from vehicle to vehicle. If you’re driving a big honkin’ truck you can expect the cost to be higher than 54 cents.
To figure out how much you are spending by driving a vehicle you’ll need to multiply .54 cents by how many miles you drive in a day. Take that answer and multiply it by how many days you work a month and you can find out how much you spend a month driving a vehicle.
The general estimate is that it costs 10 cents per mile to ride a bike. This includes maintenance and depreciation. To find out how much you’re spending riding a bike a month you’ll want to multiply .10 cents by how many miles you ride in a day. Take this number and multiply it by the number of days you work a month, and you’ll now have exactly how much you spend a month riding a bicycle.
Lastly, you’ll need to subtract the amount you spend a month riding your bike out of the cost of driving a vehicle. This final equation will show you exactly how much you’re saving a month riding a bike.
For a quick and easy calculator that does all of this for you – check out Kiplinger’s commuter calculator. It’s an easy way to plug in the above information and come up with your savings quickly.
Parking Costs $0
If you live in a big city than there’s a good chance that you’re paying a pretty penny to park your car. Parking your bike is as easy as locking it up outside or bringing it inside the office.
Less Sick Days
A study was conducted on bike commuters that discovered that the more often people ride to work and the longer the distance they travel, the less they will report sick in to work. You can check out the study here. Depending on your job, a day sick is a day you’re not being paid. Stay healthy by exercising on your commute to work.
Car Insurance Will Be Less
Many insurance companies will reduce the amount that you’re paying if you are driving your car less. My current insurance company factors in my commute to work. If I am commuting less to work every month by vehicle, because I am riding my bike instead than my car insurance payment can be reduced.
No More Gas
This is a big one. I live in California and gas prices are not cheap. One of my vehicles is a Ford Explorer that guzzles fuel like none other. Just the other day it cost me $70 to fill the tank with gas! By bike commuting I am able to spend less money on gasoline. Fortunately between me and my wife bike commuting we don’t need to fill up our vehicles very often, and are saving money.
Gym Membership Fees
Cycling is great for your health. It’s easy on your knees, gets the heart and lungs moving, and will get you in shape. Here’s a list of the health benefits of regular cycling:
The health benefits of regular cycling include:
- increased cardiovascular fitness
- reduced anxiety and depression.
- improved posture and coordination
- strengthened bones
- increased muscle strength and flexibility
- improved joint mobility
- decreased stress levels
- decreased body fat levels
Many people pay $30-$100 a month for a local gym membership. You can re-think paying for the gym if you’re keeping active on the bike. Your commute from home to work and back can replace the gym. Unless of course you’re going for that Arnold Schwarzenegger look. In which case you should keep paying for the gym and hitting those weights.
Time is Money?
I am sure you have heard the cliche “time is money.” This cliche can hold true if you’re going to be spending your time in a productive manner that creates income. Generally speaking, riding a bike to work takes more time than driving a personal vehicle or taking public transportation. This isn’t always true as there are some bike commuters who can skip traffic or busy public transportation via their bike.
Wanting to be fair we wanted to mention that your bike commute may take more time out of your daily schedule. If time truly equals money for you than you’ll need to factor this in. Personally this hasn’t been my experience, and I just need to leave the house 15 minutes earlier than if I were taking my car to get to work on time.
Keep Money in Your Wallet and Ride!
There are numerous reasons why you should start bike commuting, and saving money is one of them. Riding your bike to work is cheaper than car insurance, paying for gas, and owning a vehicle. By bike commuting you will be saving money in the long run, get exercise, and generally be happier.
Bike commuting seems to scare many people and they often have many excuses for not wanting to do it. Time and time again we have heard stories of people hesitating from commuting by bike only to eventually go for it, and fall in love with it. Don’t let your excuses hold you back! Test it out for a week and see if bike commuting is for you. I bet that you’ll be happy that you did. Happy riding!
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