Author Topic: Question about Biking and Time  (Read 4792 times)

jsloan

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Question about Biking and Time
« on: September 17, 2012, 12:32:06 PM »
Hi,

I'm in the process of breaking down the numbers when it comes to biking versus driving and it isn't looking so good from a time perspective (or money considering my circumstances).  For example, my commute to work now is roughly 9 miles each way 3 days a week (2 days work from home).  At .50 a mile this equates to:

Cost: $27.00 per week in gas (.50 x 18 x 3 = $27.00).
Time: 2 Hours per week in the car (20 min drive each way x 3 Days)
Cost Per Year: $1404.00 
Time Per Year: 104 Hours

This also is considering that our car has been paid off for 4 years now.

Next up is biking.  Obviously there is no cost here so that is a big advantage.  The only issue is that when I calculate how long I will be on my bike per week and year things get interesting:

Cost: $0.00
Time: 6.7 Hours per week. (67 Minutes each way by bike x2 per day x3 per week)
Cost Per Year: $0.00
Time Per Year: 348.40 Hours (6.7 x 52)

That is a difference of 244 hours per year!  That is basically an extra 30 work days (244 / 8 = 30.5) of time per year that I would spend on my bike.  I'm already an avid runner and weight lifter so the health benefits would be a zero gain since I would essentially have to give up running for biking from a time perspective (I would prefer to run anyways). 

Also, I'm fortunate enough as a tech consultant that I can work mainly whatever hours I want and can bill for what ever jobs I want to take on.  My effective billable rate is $50.00 per hour (accounts for taxes, write-offs, insurance, etc) so in order to make up the difference in cost I would need to only work an additional 28 Hours per year ($1404.00 / $50.00 = 28 Hours)!  So by working instead of biking I would save myself 216 working hours per year!

Lastly, the main reason I ran these numbers is because my wife is a work from home mother.  By biking instead of driving I'm putting an additional strain on her to take care of the children by herself while I would be saving money by biking instead of driving.  So in order to justify to her that this would be better for us I ran the numbers and found that it really wasn't as great as I had originally thought.  I also would have to give up running :-). 

I respect the expertise of this board so I wanted to throw this out there for discussion.  Has anyone else had a similar experience or is there something else that I'm not considering?  Is my love of running costing me money? 

AJ

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Re: Question about Biking and Time
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2012, 12:48:04 PM »
A couple questions:
  • Do you have multiple cars? If so, would you be able to sell one if you bike for your commute? If you're already a single car household, is she home with kids all day w/o a vehicle?
  • How much do you run? You wouldn't lose the full 6.7 hours a week, since presumably you would be trading in some running time for biking. If you run a lot, could you trade off? So, bike into work in the morning, then run home. Visa-versa the next day. I know a guy that runs to and from his work every day - 12 miles each way! He is a *very* avid runner :)

Kriegsspiel

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Re: Question about Biking and Time
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2012, 01:04:56 PM »
Is the point of this thread that you are trying to rationalize driving instead of biking or running to work?  I mean, if you like running more than biking and biking is cutting into your running time/energy, just run to work.

jsloan

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Re: Question about Biking and Time
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2012, 01:10:13 PM »
Yes we 2 cars, both paid off.  We could sell one, but my wife does need a car sometimes since she also works from home and needs to visit with clients (sometimes), take kids to the doctors office, etc.  Also, we would probably sell my car which I don't think I would get more than 3,000 for (1998 accord 180,000 miles).  The other car is a 2004 Toyota SUV which we could probably get 9,000-10,000 for.  The SUV gets driven less than my car.     

Its funny that you mention running to work, which is something I have wanted to do on occasion (my normal runs are in the 9-10 mile range), but my office doesn't have a shower.  I usually run about 20-30 miles per week.  I have even called the property manager of the office complex and none of the buildings they oversee has one.  There is a gym nearby but I can't shower there without a membership.  I have also tried to lobby my company to install a shower but it never seems to go anywhere because there isn't anybody else that cares I think. 

The good thing in all of this is that I do work from home 2 days a week (I tried to extend to 3-4 but my employer wasn't comfortable with it, they are coming around slowly).  Also, I run on my lunch when working from home, so this doesn't impact my wife's time as much because it isn't around dinner time when things are more hectic.

 

pepper

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Re: Question about Biking and Time
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2012, 01:28:02 PM »
Your ride time seems a lot longer then I would have expected for a 9 mile ride.  Is this based on a test ride that you did or is it an estimate?  I would have expected much shorter ride times for a 9 mile ride, something on the order of 30-35 minutes maybe.

velocistar237

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Re: Question about Biking and Time
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2012, 01:33:50 PM »
If you can find a shower solution, then could you bike faster and take less time than 67 minutes? Maybe 50 minutes max? You could wipe down and wash your hair if you got access to a utility sink.

For any one day of commuting, you can turn 1.7 hours of running plus 40 minutes of car commuting into 1.7 hours of biking, thereby saving 40 minutes and ~$9 (probably more like $4). Here, I see bike > car+running.

It's certainly not all-or-nothing. Bike some days.

Otherwise, it sounds like driving works better for you because of your schedule, and because you prefer running. Maybe these will change over time.

jsloan

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Re: Question about Biking and Time
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2012, 01:49:44 PM »
I put the route into google maps and that is what it gave me, also I have biked it a couple of times this summer and it seems to be about 60 minutes so I think it is right.  I think that it accounts for elevation which makes the commute a bit slower in places.  I actually just put in the directions in reverse (work to home) and it was 52 min! 

The lack of shower does make it harder as well.  Even when I biked into work this summer it wasn't pretty :-).  Has anyone else convinced their employer to install a shower? 

I guess this exercise was really geared towards looking at how much more time I would need to invest in order to save x amount of dollars and if that was worth it.  I'm getting used to thinking about tasks in terms of time versus money and I also wanted to apply this to something like commuting by bike to see how things would shake out.     

Mrs MM

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Re: Question about Biking and Time
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2012, 02:27:36 PM »
My suggestion is that you try it for a month.  Instead of making excuses now, just do it and see what you think.  My guess is that you'll love it so much that you'll want to keep doing it.  Not to mention that fall is the ideal time to bike anyway.

Getting rid of your SUV would also be a huge benefit to biking.

I used to bike 8 miles to work and it was by far the best part of my day.  Even though it took about 20 minutes longer per day, it was well worth it for me.

By the way, my 8 mile ride (when I was a beginner biker) took about 35-40 mins downhill on the way there and 45-50 mins uphill on the way home.

anastrophe

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Re: Question about Biking and Time
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2012, 02:52:49 PM »
There are other factors which you cannot quantify, such as the joy of adrenalin, seeing cute animals on your commute, feeling more alive, sense of personal accomplishment of beating your own record from last week, social connections with other bike commuters on your route like that guy who rides the red Trek who you are always trying to be faster than, etc (fill in your own). When you consider these qualitative factors, which you'll only be able to do once you've tried it--actually, in my experience, after you've gotten through the initial difficult stages and are used to it--then you might think differently of it. Time on the bike is worth 1000% more than time in a car, so I don't hesitate to spend more of it.

I don't have a shower at my job but I get around it like this:
1) wear bike jersey, shorts and sneakers while riding
2) bring work clothes packed carefully in panniers
3) washcloth, ziplock, towel, staff restroom stall
4) put on work clothes in restroom
5) switch into dress-up shoes which live in cubical
6) Presto! white-collar professional.

Your workplace may vary but if you have a secure location at work to keep your shoes and some items, and panniers, you can probably come up with some variant that works for you. It really isn't as much hassle as you think.

jsloan

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Re: Question about Biking and Time
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2012, 02:58:37 PM »
I actually had done some test rides this summer, but it did take more time during the week and impacted the amount of time my wife was at home by herself with the kids, hence the reason for the post.  I then wanted to actually calculate out how much time it took and see if there really was negligible difference and it does seem to add up over time.   

I guess it seems silly to be making such a big deal out of a couple of extra hours per week, but it does make a difference in our schedules (especially when the time is the morning and evening).  It's hard to justify the time when I can't quantify that it is more of an advantage to work a bit more than it would be to bike.   

Believe me, if I had the time to bike AND run each week, I would all for it!  I'm not adverse to the effort, it is more the time invested in the activity.  The lack of a shower is also a downer.   

jawisco

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Re: Question about Biking and Time
« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2012, 06:50:34 PM »
That is a long time to bike 9 miles, especially for someone who runs as much as you do.  I think you could get that down to :45 pretty easily, but that can depend on the route as well.

I think for you it will come down to enjoying it or not - it isn't a huge deal anyway, especially if you aren't entertaining the thought of becoming a one-vehicle family - that would save you a lot of $.

Maybe find a safe place to park your bike along the route and combine jogging and biking to get to work - say 4 miles jog and then warm down with a 5 mile bike ride and vice-versa on the way home...That way you would get your jogging hours in and still get to work.

Bakari

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Re: Question about Biking and Time
« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2012, 07:55:44 PM »
Other posters have already mentioned this, but you never seemed to really address it:

How many hours a week do you currently run?
If its ~4.5hours, then you would be giving up zero time by biking, even assuming it continued to take as long as Google says.  Since there is no shower, you could take a leisurely 67min ride in, and then ride home hard and fast, giving you a good workout and saving you time. 

Then the only question remaining is whether or not it is worth $1400 a year to trade running for biking. 
Less bone strengthening impact, but also less chance of knee or ankle injury.

Personally, I don't even take a change of clothes (and my job doesn't have a shower) I just use alcohol based hand sanitizer for deodorant.  I still sweat, but without being stinky.

jsloan

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Re: Question about Biking and Time
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2012, 06:57:52 AM »
You are right, if I switched to biking I wouldn't lose any time because I usually run for around 3-4 hours per week.  Maybe I need to get into the biking mindset, but running has been my focus for the last couple of years while training for a couple of marathons.  I really like the hybrid run/bike suggestion and possibly after my next next marathon is over I will work on working in a bit of biking.

The biggest factor in all of this though is the time commitment, especially considering that I have young children at home.  Does anyone else have an issues when you are away from home and your partner has to take up an additional share of the childcare?  Running has been a way to get in shape because I can do it during nap times, pre-school, etc.  Biking in morning and evening means that I won't be there to help with breakfast and dinner and it puts an additional burden on my wife.  Maybe this is something that I will just have to wait on until the kids get older?       

WaxOnWaxOff

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Re: Question about Biking and Time
« Reply #13 on: September 18, 2012, 07:12:58 AM »
IMO, nothing wrong with waiting until the kids are older. As an avid runner myself (half marathons, not marathons), replacing all my running with biking is unthinkable because I love running too much. As velocistar said, it's not all or nothing. I bike 2 days a week as my cross-training and also bike to get groceries. For my current schedule, this is plenty. I also like jawisco's idea of the bike/run combo (and you'd be ready for a duathlon too!).

My office doesn't have a shower either. What I do is take a shower in the morning before I go. That way, any sweat would be clean sweat. When I get to work, I wipe off, spritz with a homebrew "shower in a bottle" mixture of witch hazel, rubbing alcohol, a bit of water, and few drops of essential oil, wipe again, then put on my work clothes.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2012, 08:07:18 AM by WaxOnWaxOff »

bogart

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Re: Question about Biking and Time
« Reply #14 on: September 18, 2012, 10:03:08 AM »
The biggest factor in all of this though is the time commitment, especially considering that I have young children at home.  Does anyone else have an issues when you are away from home and your partner has to take up an additional share of the childcare?  Running has been a way to get in shape because I can do it during nap times, pre-school, etc.  Biking in morning and evening means that I won't be there to help with breakfast and dinner and it puts an additional burden on my wife.  Maybe this is something that I will just have to wait on until the kids get older?     

Yes, absolutely, this is an issue between me and my DH and one that I think does get better as the kids get older.  Being at home with and/or primarily responsible for our son is among my least favorite ways to spend a long amount of time (6+ hours).  So it may just be a matter of waiting until the kids are older.  At any rate, I wouldn't neglect the relationship/marital costs of adding something to your spouse's "unwanted to-do's" in your calculations of this (or anything).

OTOH, there is something to be said for Mrs.MM's suggestion of trying it and seeing how it works for you and how you like it, provided that "you" is understood to be plural (i.e. not just how much you personally like it, but also the SAHP's perspective on its impacts).

jsloan

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Re: Question about Biking and Time
« Reply #15 on: September 18, 2012, 10:52:41 AM »
Thanks to everyone for the advice, I really appreciate it.  I know there many avenues to financial freedom, but I'm not sure this is something that might be worth it at the moment.  I actually have done test runs as some of the posters have suggested and it was a problem for us, that is why I brought up the topic.  I guess the point of the post was to measure not only the financial cost of a decision, but also the time involved.  I think the last post was spot on, these decisions need to be something works for the entire family not just myself. 

As a side note, I also looked up bus routes which I thought might allow me to get rid of the car and do a hybrid bus/bike but for some reason the bus time estimates were longer than the bike route estimates!           

Thanks again to everyone who posted.           

yolfer

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Re: Question about Biking and Time
« Reply #16 on: September 18, 2012, 03:48:34 PM »
There is a gym nearby but I can't shower there without a membership.  I have also tried to lobby my company to install a shower but it never seems to go anywhere because there isn't anybody else that cares I think. 

Many gyms have an unadvertised "shower only" membership that is much cheaper than the full membership. If the gym close to your work doesn't, you could politely ask them to offer one for you. Couldn't hurt to ask!

Alternatively, you could start showing up to work drenched in sweat and stinking like a hog, and then see if your request for a shower install gets anywhere. Try lifting your arms up while standing very close to the noses of co-workers; to reach boxes on high shelves, for instance.