Do Your Heart a Favor and Bike to Work

by Scott Sery on June 6, 2013

bike to workLast April I wrote to you about how you should pay money for a gym membership.  The point of the article was that it is far too difficult to motivate ourselves to do something we all know we should be doing.  Instead, spending $50 to $100 per month is the motivation many people need in order to keep themselves healthy.  The long-term cost savings (which will come because you will not be going to the doctor as much) will outweigh the costs of the gym membership.  However, those who are living a frugal lifestyle will know that there are other options.  One of those options is to get a bicycle.

As the US realizes the need to “go green” more people are taking the time to bike to work.  But this method of transportation is not just good for the environment; it is good for your health and for your pocket book.  Let’s take a look at the math.

First of all, we will need to ignore vehicle maintenance, parking, tolls, and the like.  Instead this analysis will look at just the cost of gasoline at $3.50+ per gallon (which as the price goes up, the financial benefits only become greater).

If your commute is 10 miles one way, the trip will cost you roughly $3.50 per day in an SUV and $2.30 in a car, assuming 20mpg and 30mpg respectively.  This means if you work 5 days per week, 50 weeks per year, you will spend around $875 per year on gas while driving an SUV and about $600 per year with a car.  However, if you ride a bike to work just a quarter of the days out the year (basically just the summer months) you would save $150 to $220.  Or enough to cover the cost of a reasonably priced bicycle (not your expensive ones, but a basic commuter).  But there is more to just saving on gas costs.

A gym membership costs at least $50 per month.  You can save $150 by cancelling it for 3 months out of the year (unless of course you are locked into a contract).  Even if you do not have a gym membership, your healthcare costs will go down because, assuming you don’t get run over by a car, your body will reward you for the exercise and help you avoid the doctor.  Fewer trips to the doctor will mean less out of your pocket.

The biggest argument to biking to work: I don’t have time for that.  A 10 mile bike ride should take around 45 minutes depending on how fast you can ride.  That same trip would take around 20 minutes if you were driving.  The round trip will take an additional 50 minutes out of your day, or about what you would be spending at the gym.

Are you going to get rich riding your bike to work?  Of course not.  Will you save a little bit of money while making yourself and the planet healthier?  Naturally.  If you don’t already have a bike, go price out a cheap commuter (I got mine at Target for $200), and make the commitment to ride to work once per week.  Need more of an incentive?  Talk to your human resources department.  Many companies will reward employees who bike to work, so your benefits will be even greater.

Do you bike to work?  What are your concerns for not doing so?

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Scott Sery

Scott Sery is a native to Billings, Montana. Within an hour in nearly any direction he can be found fishing, hunting, backpacking, caving, and rock or ice climbing. With an extensive knowledge of the finance and insurance world, Scott loves to write personal finance articles. When not talking money, he enjoys passing on his knowledge of the back country, or how to live sustainably. You can learn more about Scott on his website Sery Content Development
  • I started biking to work a couple of months ago, and biked almost every day in May. It’s awesome. =) My bike commute is 9 miles each way, but the big gas savings come from Mr. PoP taking my car to work on days that he bikes. Since his car is pretty gas inefficient it saves us about $7-$8/day that I bike!

  • Common Cents Wealth

    I completely agree with you that biking to work has awesome benefits. I’m about 6 miles from work and I’m trying to bike to work at least 1 day a week all summer. I need the weather to cooperate a bit, but hopefully I’ll get in a routine soon. Biking is actually relaxing for me and it only takes me about 10-15 minutes longer to get to work (although I do need to shower when I get there).

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  • CanadianBudgetBinder

    I don’t think they allow bikes on the highway so I’ll opt out of biking to work. If I worked closer to home then I would certainly skip the petrol and pedal to work. It’s great for exercise and saves money on gas.

  • Confession: I don’t know how to ride a bike. 🙂 If I did, I might consider it, but in rainy Vancouver, it would often be painful…

    Instead, Brian walks to work and I take public transit.

  • I live about two miles from work and I try to bike whenever I can (and when weather allows it). Another bonus, at least in my case, it’s often fast to bike than it is to drive. The roads get all clogged up with traffic as I’m coming home, and I just scoot alongside the cars.

    • When I lived in Chicago I could easily get places fast on my bike because of how long it took to get places with traffic.

  • Cat Alford/ Budget Blonde

    I don’t live far from work, but a bike is not safe to ride in between point A and point B. However, I think it’s an absolutely awesome thing to do if you can swing it!

    • I have never been to Grenada, but I would never want to bike on the Caribbean islands that I have been. Lots of poverty and with that comes crime.

      • Cat Alford/ Budget Blonde

        You hit the nail on the head. That’s exactly why!

  • Dennis

    I’m all for biking. I work from home now, but I did not bike to work anyway though. The way to my previous job was really inconvenient for biking – large highways, busy intersections etc. I go for rides regularly all the time though, mostly for shopping (groceries, produce market, bookstores, clothes etc etc) and recreation (nice forest & field trails).

    • Yeah not the best if you have to go through highways. At least you get out on your bike recreationally.

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