## Peregrination Math

andy| August 27, 2008 3:14 pmShould the bikes be on the roads? Well, this is a tricky question… for some people. For me it is pretty simple. Yes. But, let’s go baby steps. What is the best way to travel? It turns out the most efficient way is bike. The least efficient way is a single passenger car. In between are things like trains, buses, walking, etc.

But what is the cost of each mode of transportation? Well, walking is pretty much free. For biking, you got to buy a bike. Most people will say that trains are super expensive, because you have to build tracks etc. But what about cars? What is the cost of a car? Well, let’s do a quick math. My assumption is that we buy a car and throw it away 10 years later.

- Normal car: $17,000
- Gas for 10 years at 22 mpg and 15,000 miles per year and $4 per gallon: (15000 / 22) * $4 * 10 = $27,240
- Oil changes every 3000 miles: (15000 / 3000) * $15 * 10 = $750
- Repairs let say $500 per year: $5,000
- Insurance and registration is another $900 per year: $9,000

Did I forget something? Anyway, according to my math, the total cost of having a car for 10 years is about **$58,990**. But is that the total cost of driving?

Let’s start by comparing this to a bike. Not completely fair comparison, but let’s try it anyway:

- Normal bike: $800
- Panniers, trailer: $600
- Tubes, break pads, let say 10 tubes a year ($5), 2 tires a year ($20), 2 sets of break pads a year ($20): $1000
- Repairs let say $200 per year: $2,000

Did I miss something here? Well, the total is **$4,400**. And this is for a bike that is tuned twice a year, gets new tires and break pads once a year, has panniers, trailer and so on.

Ok, how about public transportation. Assuming you live in the Bay Area, you are looking at the cost of a bus and Caltrain, Bart, Ace, or Amtrak. So, you are looking at anywhere from $5 to $12 per day for the commuter rail, and couple of dollars per day for the bus if you need a local connection. Assuming the worst, you are looking at $2 for a bus in the south bay, $6 for the Caltrain to San Francisco, and another $1.5 in San Francisco. This twice a day is $19 per day, which in 10 years is about $49,400. But this is the worst case. Also, all public transportation modes have 10 rides or monthly plans. Also, there are commuter tax breaks for the public transport. All these incentives can lower the cost of riding down to couple of $100 per year.

So, according to this, whoever can bike to work should. There is significant saving in that. So even ignoring impact on environment, health, and time, this should be enough motivation for most people to change their transportation habits.

Tags: Bike to Work,Cycling,Driving,math,Public Transportation

Categories: Biking, Environment

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