How Much Does It Cost to Commute by Bike?

A man exits a city bus walking a bike by his side

Jordan Siemens / Getty Images

A few weeks ago we wrote that Americans are working over two hours a day to pay for their cars, paying more to feed their cars than their families. While some questioned the math in comments, there was no question that it is a huge portion of a typical budget and it is only getting worse.

The Math Behind Bike Commuting

Now James Schwartz of the Urban Country has done the math for bike commuters, and finds that they spend a grand total of $ 350 per year on their commute, or just 3.84 minutes per day to pay for their bikes. Quite the difference! But is it right?It is a significant difference, with the car costing an average of $ 11,000 per year and the bike, including maintenance, costing $ 350 per year. You can see James Schwartz's math here. He concludes:

Based on an annual average cost of $350 to own a sturdy, quality bicycle, the average American will work 15.98 hours a year to pay for their bicycle, which works out to be 0.063927 hours per day - or 3.84 minutes a day.

Does It Add Up?

But there is a problem. it does not take fuel into account; Revenue Canada has determined that for bicycle couriers, food is fuel and worth $ 17 dollars per day. If that is based on an eight our day, than food as fuel costs $ 2.125 per hour. (Canada and Britain both allow tax deductions for food as fuel, but the IRS does not, showing a distinct bias toward four wheels over two)

The Survey of North American Bicycle Commuters determined the average bike commute to last 26.4 minutes, so a round trip averages 52.8 minutes, giving a food cost of $ 1.87 per day. Given 252 working days per year, that totals $ 471.24 per year.

Add that to James's calculation of $ 350 for owning and operating a bike, and one gets a total annual cost of $ 821.25, or 9.01 minutes per day of work to pay for the bike and its fuel. Sorry, James.