Friday, May 21, 2010

Bike to Work Day!

Jordan Cyclist
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Right at ten years ago (maybe 10 1/2), our family became a one car family and I began biking most places I go by myself. A couple of years ago, I mostly gave up the biking and started walking most places I go solo.

For our family, this has been a money saver, to be sure (the average two car family in the US spends something like $3,000-6,000/year for that extra car). It also has been a way to be a bit healthier (I lost at least twenty pounds that first year and, while I haven't lost any further, I haven't gained any back, either) and a great deal of fun.

I've started walking not because I had any problems with biking, but because - as much as I enjoy biking, I enjoy walking even more.

Today in Louisville it's our annual Bike to Work Day celebration and, in honor of that, I thought I'd re-post one of my favorite blog entries. As a matter of laziness, I've not included the links, but you can read the story WITH links here...

On the actual Cost of Cars...

Owning a car cost (on average) $7,823 per a year in 2007 according to AAA. That's figuring in gas, repairs, insurance, car costs, etc.

This is up from $6,890/year on average (according to this article back in 2004). Wow. Costs are rising quickly.

Here's a website that calculates your personal expenses - telling you how much you're paying a month for the privilege of owning a car and how much you'd be saving if you didn't have a car:

(This site includes the little factoid that, if I did NOT own a car and invested that savings instead - beginning at the age of 25 - that I could have saved $1 million + by retirement age. Or I could easily pay for my children to go to college.)

According to that last website, my wife and I are spending a little under $7,000/year for our car.

Let me go ahead and say $7,000 for the purpose of my following illustration.

Now, if we work 250 days (5 day workweek x 50 weeks) a year, that means we're paying $28/work day for owning a car (7000/250). That means, if you make $9/hour, you have to work 3 hours every day to pay for that car. if you make $14/hour, you're working 1 1/2 hours to pay for it.

I bring this up because I want to make the case for walking/biking/busing places instead of driving. Some people look at me and say, "You're spending 1 1/2 walking to work and back home! That's great if you can work it out, but how do you have the time to do so??!!"

The answer is, because I'm not working 1 1/2-2 hours to pay for a car. In fact, by the time you figure that if I drove, I'd be spending 1/2 hour to get to and from work, then I'm coming out with at least 1/2 hour MORE free time than the person in my situation who drives. More still, if that person also later drives to a gym (where they pay MORE money) to exercise.

Want a million dollars? Want to pay for your kids' college? Want to SAVE time?

Sell that car. Or, at least consider it. It's not the time saver you might think it is. And for folk working at minimum wage (where paying for a car might take closer to HALF your workday!!), give it a serious consideration.

[UPDATE: I found this interesting site where you can enter the details of your car to get a "True cost to own" estimate that seems pretty reasonable. So, for instance, if you were looking at a 2005 Toyota Matrix, it figures in financing costs, taxes, fuel, depreciation, etc and lets you know that it is estimated to cost about $5,000/year for the first five years you owned it (fluctuating up and down slightly each year), for a total cost of ~$25,000 for a five year period. Interesting resource.]


Alan said...

Unfortunately we live out in the hinterlands, so biking is unreasonable. But we do car-pool in.

One of my great wishes for finding a job (in addition to not ending up in any red states, square states, or south of the Mason-Dixon line) is to end up located somewhere with great mass transit. As much as I love to drive, I would love to get rid of one (or both!) of our cars even more.

Alan said...

BTW, I know you're in Kentucky, not Tenn., but have you ever heard of/seen this?!?

Dan Trabue said...

Wow. That IS impressive. I've heard about this but have not seen it.

Here's the link for anyone who finds it easier.

Thanks, Alan. You scientist-types are so informed...

I gots to get me a visit to Tennessee to Tennes-SEE that.

Deb said...

I didn't realize it was bike to work day, but I got my old Raleigh back from the shop yesterday and went for a nice ride this afternoon. First time in years. I wish I was close enough to bike to my job.