Well, if you’re an average American, James D. Schwartz of The Urban Country reports that you do. Of course, this definitely matches up with the energy efficiency of a bike versus a car, and the environmental impact of a bike versus a car. The bottom line is, whether you are average or not, bikes are supremely cheaper than cars and if you’d like to save a whole shitload of money, probably the easiest way to do so is ditch the car (believe me, I did so almost 8 years ago now, and I can’t imagine turning back).
3.84 Minutes a Day
James has one post up on how he figured that the average American spends 3.84 minutes a day to pay for their bike,… using some really conservative figures to make sure he doesn’t make it look cheaper than it is. (Funny note: the photo of the girl on a bike in the photo of this post is a college friend, from the college I was at when I ditched the car, so I’ve decided to reuse it in my post here — above.)
Another key point from that article is this: “Now if we could only convince more people to take some bold measures and change how they view transportation so they would come to realization that 49% of all trips in the United States could easily be done by bicycle – since 49% of all trips are shorter than 3.1 miles (5km).”
Of course, there are many assumptions that go into this calculation, and everyone is different. Two radio hosts found they worked about 3.5 minutes a day to pay for their bikes — pretty similar to the above. Have you calculated how much you work for yours? (I actually walk nearly everywhere now, so I don’t really have anything to calculate.)
2 Hours a Day
The two hours a day story and calculations was the first of the two, and it’s what got Schwartz on the radio show mentioned above. Here’s the nice intro on that piece:
“Imagine you could work 500 hours less every year. That works out to be an extra 12.5 weeks of vacation. Alternatively, imagine you got paid for an extra 500 hours of work each year, without having to work those extra 500 hours. That would work out to be an extra $11,000 every year for an average American making $22 per hour.”
Can you imagine that?
“500 hours a year – or 2 hours each day – is roughly the equivalent to what the average American worker will work in order to pay for their cars (the average is between 1.46 hour/day and 2.90 hours/day depending on which data is used).”
For more, the full piece is linked above.
As I said, this all fits my experience quite well, and it’s been tremendous to drop the heavy costs and responsibility of owning a car — I’d encourage you to try it out!
I actually ran across these posts by Schwartz last year, but thanks to Christopher Mims of Grist for bringing my attention back to them and inspiring me to write up a piece (or, another piece, as I might have mentioned this info in a previous article).
Photo of Heather Normandale by Adam Thompson / RateMyVelo.com