A practical guide to cycling to save gas

Like national gas prices high an average of $4 per gallon (even beyond $5 in some areas), more and more drivers are thinking of parking the car in the garage and doing more of their necessary trips by bicycle.

“Bike traffic has increased dramatically,” says Portland, Oregon, bike commuter Jenna Phillips, who shares her daily bike experiences on TikTok and is an advocate for various bike-related causes across the city.

While gas prices have certainly played a role, she says the increase in bicycle traffic is also partly due to the general increase in interest in cycling brought about by the pandemic. According to a Survey 2021 by advocacy group PeopleForBikes, at least 10% of Americans pledged to ride bikes “in a new way” during the early part of the pandemic, and various reports point to a robust year 2022 and beyond for cycling .

If you’re one of the many considering the switch, bike commuting is possible, and certainly a money saver as long as you consider a few things before you start.

Cost savings between car and bike

Overall, you won’t be spending as much as usual.

Where you will save money is primarily on fuel costs. Even with an e-bike, you’re spending pennies to charge and run your bike versus the pump.

Let’s say you drive near or on average 39 miles per day in a gasoline vehicle that gets 30 miles per gallon with a 13 gallon tank. At today’s gas prices, you’re spending at least $52 every 10 days to fill your tank. Over the course of a year, that totals nearly $1,900.

According to Electric bike report, a typical e-bike battery is 500 Wh and not all of the electricity that comes out of your wall outlet is stored in your e-bike’s battery cells. During charging, your e-bike can lose up to 20% of the transferred power due to process inefficiencies. It can therefore be difficult to estimate your charging costs. The average cost of electricity in the United States being approximately 10.59 cents per kilowatt houryou can use a 1.25x multiplier to account for this unpredictable energy loss.

(Battery size of 0.5 kWh x 1.25) x electricity cost of $0.106 = $0.066 per charge

Phillips estimated its costs using this formula. She says she charges about every other day, so over the course of a year she has determined that it costs her (0.066 per charge * 182 days) = about $12,045 to charge her e-bike. Recharging daily would only double that cost to $24.

You can get a quality e-bike for around $2,000, so even with the cost of equipment, there’s still plenty to ride. Your cost savings would magnify as you become more comfortable with driving and ride more. A good non-electric commuter bike should cost no more than $1,200, which can further increase savings.

If you commit to driving less, you also save money on maintenance and wear and tear on your vehicle over time. Maintaining a bicycle is much less expensive than maintaining a car, and there are many things you can learn to repair and replace on your bike yourself.

You can also save on healthcare costs by doing something that’s good for you. In just one example, a 2011 Preventive medecine study found, “significantly improved VO2 max and cardiorespiratory fitness,” among other benefits after just eight weeks of commuter cycling.

Costs to consider when you start cycling

Beyond the cost of the bike and potential accessories, one upfront cost that many overlook is bike insurance.

With the vast majority of standard landlord or tenant policies, bikes up to $2,000 are normally covered for theft and general loss. E-bike commuters may need to add additional coverage for more expensive bikes, and that can range from $100 to $300 per year, depending on the value of the bike.

Where it gets trickier is adding coverage in the event of a bicycle accident. Although most health insurance covers a certain amount of medical expenses related to any injury, there are additional plans to cover injuries if you are involved in an accident that is not your fault. It is important to discuss the details with your insurance agent, as plans and policies vary widely.

Maintenance is another cost to consider. Standard bike maintenance is inexpensive, reaching around $70 for a tune-up and service. Flat tire repairs typically cost less than $30, and modern commuter bikes are designed to withstand the wear and tear of daily commuting (learning how to perform simple maintenance at home can help you save on some of these costs).

Electric bikes have more maintenance costs, especially if they have built-in batteries. Routine maintenance often needs to be done by qualified mechanics at a reputable shop, and tune-ups start at $80 and go up from there. There are also longer wait times for service given the growing popularity of e-bikes.

Considerations on jet lag between bike and car

Phillips, who is completely car-free, notes that biking to a destination takes longer than driving, but some of that can be mitigated with the help of public transport, as she uses to get to his office, which is several kilometers away. away from home. This largely depends on your city’s transit system and bike accessibility to a station, but can be done with some advance planning.

By contrast, in Bozeman, Montana, cyclist Joe Cartwright finds that he saves time cycling through his small town because he doesn’t have to deal with parking and traffic that consumes the heart of his life. the city.

“I see it as a combination of convenience, exercise, and fun,” he says.

Overall, the length of your commute and the navigable streets to get there will dictate any jet lag, but it’s a safe bet that at least when you start getting around by bike, things will take a bit longer. weather.

Things to consider for safer cycling

Cycling trips bring an entirely different set of necessary awareness and understanding of safety versus riding.

“There are certain car behaviors to learn, which streets to navigate, but for me, I learned so much about riding with people,” Phillips says.

“You have to anticipate what drivers are going to do before they do it,” adds Cartwright.

Bike travel safety is not an exact science and requires time to master routes, understand local bike laws and be as visible as possible at all times. When you start out, riding with a friend or a local cycling group can help familiarize you with the challenges and opportunities in your specific city. Proper lighting on the front and back of your bike is crucial, especially if your commute requires riding before dawn and after dusk, as might be the case during the winter months.

Phillips notes that the heavier weight of his e-bike requires a bit of advance planning when moving up stairs in an office or on public transport. It is strongly recommended that you understand and test your physical and comfort limits with your bike before you start riding.

The Best Types of Bikes for Commuting

There are more options than ever for transport bikes. A suitable commuter has reliable components, weather-ready options and a solid gear range to help you conquer hills and unpredictable roads.

Necessary accessories for cycling trips

Gathering a few extras before you ride will make your ride a whole lot safer, easier, and maybe even more fun.

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