Author Topic: The economics of cycling to work  (Read 3538 times)

force majeure

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The economics of cycling to work
« on: May 27, 2017, 12:00:56 PM »

Statistic that stands out for me; 0.6% of US workforce cycles to work.
p.s. I get this from friends a lot…

"What will you do?”
"Whatever the hell I feel like doing on any given day."

Paul der Krake

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Re: The economics of cycling to work
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2017, 12:13:30 PM »
I used to live in London and rode my bike everywhere. The economics are not even close. I could literally buy a bike every 2 months and still come out ahead of using the tube. The city is mostly flat and the weather never too hot or too cold.

Buses are cheaper but take much longer than riding a bike because of the congestion and having to stop every quarter mile.


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Re: The economics of cycling to work
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2017, 08:18:05 AM »
That story is depressing and somewhat unbelievable.  The cost of a brand-new bike is prohibitive?  Buy a used beater for $50; problem solved.  $320-$530/year for maintenance?  Oh please.  Maybe if you have a high-end bike and don't like doing any work on it, or if you feel a compelling need to swap out a part when it gets a scratch.  Many cities/universities have cycling co-ops where you can do your own maintenance with their tools, and get some advice while you do it.  There are many creative ways to get around for little to no cost, but excuses are always easier.


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Re: The economics of cycling to work
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2017, 09:54:45 PM »
"As for your bike, it should last longer. “The simple answer,” he adds, “would be five to eight years. "

What!?  A bike should last way longer than that.  My newest bike is 7 years old, and one of my bikes is 39 years old and the only thing I've replaced on it are cables, wheels, and tires. 

Also, for those of us who live in smaller cities without public transit or with limited public transit, bikes are usually the clear choice.  I could take public transit to work, but with the limited service where I live it would probably take three times as long as biking

Financial Ascensionist

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Re: The economics of cycling to work
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2017, 11:59:01 PM »
I thought it was a really good article.  Sure, they massively underestimate how long a bike will last and I have no idea why a first time bike commuter would start with a brand new ride, but even with all those pessimistic assumptions, biking came out ahead.  Imagine if you factor in the boost in life expectancy and the added life satisfaction from having a toned body.  You bet I will be riding my bike for a long long time!


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Re: The economics of cycling to work
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2017, 06:02:54 AM »
Definitely an article written around a pre-formed conclusion.  It's as silly as saying SUVs are cheaper than cars because a Suburban is cheaper to buy/own/operate than a Ferrari!


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Re: The economics of cycling to work
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2017, 03:36:45 PM »
I run, bicycle and motorbike to work, depending on my mood (anything to avoid London Underground!). The motorbike is a CBF125 - very low tax (£12/year), insurance (£60/year) and depreciation (<£100/year) and it gets around 120 mpg (Imp). Of the three ways to get to work, I reckon it's the cheapest as running and cycling mean I end up eating more.

Mind you, the other two are much healthier for me, so there is that


  • Bristles
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Re: The economics of cycling to work
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2017, 05:05:00 PM »
I have about 5k miles on my bike, and just over $2k into it so far.  It is about ready for the scrap heap, so I'd argue it has minimal residual value at the moment.  $0.40 a mile for biking, about the same as the ~$0.50 a mile rule of thumb for driving a car.

My ~$1k bike has gone through a set of pedals, a rear wheel, 4 chains, 2 rear cassettes, two big chain rings, one medium chain ring, one derailleur, one rear hydraulic brake assembly, one seat, a seat post clamp, new grips, new handle bar, about a dozen spokes, 3 tires, about 10 tubes, a front shock rebuild (that still leaks), and a bottom bracket.  It has also cost a cargo rack, panniers, several bike lights, a new helmet, waterproof outer gear, waterproof bike boots, cold weather over mitts, a few sets of bike gloves, at least $150 in accumulated bike specific tools, etc.  Most of the work was done by me, but I have taken it to the shop for some of the repairs when it exceeded my skills, tools, and/or schedule.  Winter sees lots of grit that really is harsh on my bike, I would probably have half the wear on it if it was a fair weather only commuter bike.  The frame is showing corrosion starting at the rear wheel mounts so I will likely need a new one in about a year or so.

So on the whole I am not ahead by any real amount, but I enjoy it and will soldier on regardless of the money aspect, and the likelihood of getting run over.


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Re: The economics of cycling to work
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2017, 05:05:27 AM »
OK, so we have one old used car. What difference does it make that I do NOT buy a 2nd one, purely to commute to my job?

1. I only really have to be in the office 3-4 days per week, 30 weeks per year (university job) = call it 100 trips for easy math.
2. Average cost of ownership of a car in Canada = about $9500 Cdn. But round this down to $8000 because I'd get a used car, if I got any car.
3. Divide 8000 dollars by 100 trips = $80 per trip! OK, say cost of ownership was only $5000/year. It's still $50 per trip.
Even at 240 trips (48 weeks, 5 days/week) it's STILL good value not to drive.

So, would I be so dumb as to buy a car, when I "get paid" $30 to $80 in avoided costs, every time I bike to work instead of choosing to own said vehicle?
No way!
And yet . . . so many friends and co-worker think it is somehow "strange" or "radical" to do this.
NOT owning a car, or just a 2nd car, and biking (or anything else) instead, is the #1 easiest way to NOT BE POOR. Or retire early.
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