Save Money Cycling

May 29, 2012 by

Bikes in a rackHey, it’s Bike-to-Work Week! You can save lots of money (and have lots of fun) by making regular cycling part of your lifestyle. Here’s a rundown of the savings, and tips to save money on biking, if you find yourself inspired to two-wheel it more.

Save Money By Biking

  • Car Costs: According to AAA’s 2012 “Your Driving Costs,” the average sedan driven 15,000 miles per year costs about 60 cents per mile. So every auto-mile you displace with cycling saves you about 60 cents (depending of course on your vehicle). Want to save an extra $100 per month? Bike, instead of drive, 150-200 miles per month. If you bike to work, meeting this aim will be easy.
  • Healthcare Costs: Biking is excellent for your cardiovascular system. And you’ll keep your legs stronger and improve your balance, especially important to quality of life as you age.
  • Gym Membership: Instead of paying money to ride a very boring stationary bike in front of an insipid television program staring at the rear end of someone pretending to climb stairs, explore your community and region for free on the real thing!
  • Diets: Even leisure biking (12-14 mph) burns about 600 calories per hour if you weigh 150 pounds. Temporary diets don’t work; incorporating biking into your lifestyle will.
  • Parking: In many places, you have to pay to park a car. Just about everywhere, bike parking is free.
  • Time: If you believe time is money, biking often saves here too. I recently participated in my community’s Commuter Challenge. I drove a vehicle belonging to our city’s carshare cooperative in a “race” against a regional politician on a bike. He biked the distance about 20% faster than I did driving. If you start biking, you’ll be stunned by how quickly you can get between points you considered quite far apart, especially if you’re lucky enough to live in a community that’s invested in bike paths, which are mostly traffic-signal free and tend to follow more direct routes than do roadways.

Save Money On Biking

  • DIY Maintenance: Keeping a bike in smooth and safe running shape isn’t difficult (particularly compared to even the simplest car), but you may find that the tasks aren’t intuitive. Borrow from your library a bike maintenance book to teach yourself the basics, search YouTube for a demonstration of every conceivable bike maintenance job, and see the next bullet.
  • Bike Co-ops: For a lifetime membership of $5.00, I joined a bike cooperative in my community. I can rent shop-time and use the co-op’s tools for $10 per hour ($15 to have an expert work with me) and attend free workshops on topics like fixing flats and adjusting brakes.
  • Buy Used: You can spend thousands on a new, fancy schmancy bike, and maybe that’s a good choice if you’re really into it. But especially if you’re starting out, look for a good used bike after first researching the type of bike that best fits the sort of cycling you plan to do.
  • Start Slow: Like any new physical activity, work your way into biking gradually. If you’re a novice and resolve to make a 50-mile trip your first outing, the sore posterior and exhaustion that inevitably will result may turn you off to biking permanently. Your first trips might be short cruises around your neighborhood. That said, you’ll be amazed by how quickly your cycling (and posterior) stamina builds, and sooner than you think a 50-mile outing will be just a ride in the park!

Do You Cycle?

Do you have any tips for novice bikers? If you bike to work, does your employer provide a shower, and do you ride no matter the weather? Is saving money any part of your motivation for biking, or is it all about fun and fitness?

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