Sunday, 13 October, 2002

Does Bicycle Commuting Save Me Money?

Now that I'm not on a rigorously prescribed training schedule, I try to ride to the office and back twice a week, with Tuesday and Friday being the days of choice.  Not that the commute is a walk in the park.  Depending on the route I take, the ride is between 25 and 30 miles each way.  Typically I push hard the first half of the ride in, and then make the rest of the ride at a leisurely pace along with a co-worker who lives near the halfway point.  On the way home it's just the opposite:  a leisurely ride for the first hour, and then pushing a bit the rest of the way home.

A friend mentioned the other day that I must save a lot of money by commuting to work.  I'd never really considered that before.  Let's see, my truck gets about 22 miles per gallon so each day that I take the bike I save about 2.5 gallons of gas.  Figure 5 gallons saved per week.  In a year, I would save 130 gallons of gas, or about $200 at a buck and a half a gallon.  If I figure an average of 110 miles per week, that's 5,720 miles in a year.  I have to put the bike in the shop for a $70 tune-up about every 2,000 miles, so the cost of the tune-ups pretty much negates the savings in gas.  However, I am driving 5,700 fewer miles per year, so those $200 truck tune-ups every 15,000 miles are postponed.  Rather than one tune-up every year or so, it's more like one every 18 months.  Factor in the per-mile savings on oil changes and other maintenance and, yeah, I'm saving a couple hundred bucks a year.  Maybe.  If you don't factor in the cost of the bike, helmet, gloves, jerseys, shoes, shorts, cold weather gear, lights, batteries, spare tubes, etc.  My bicycling outfit cost almost as much as my tuxedo!  If I could commute on the bicycle every day, perhaps I would see a difference.  Although the extra food cost (have to fuel the machine) would certainly eat into any cost savings.  Face it, cycling is not a poor man's sport, and I don't do it to save money.