Bike Commuting and Frugality: An Update

As of writing this post, I have been bike commuting exclusively now since the beginning of September.  I have not been able to ride every day during that time frame because I was sick for about a week in early October (and my wife made me drive) and we house sat for friends who live much farther away from my work than we do on two separate occasions in September, but I would say that I have ridden to work 8 out of every 10 working days in the past two months.  For me that means I have commuted by bike about 770 miles.  I like this a lot.

The most obvious benefit that biking has provided is improved overall fitness and energy level.  I have gotten far more exercise these past two months than I have gotten since my wrestling days in college where we had three hour practices in which I would lose 8 lbs of sweat.  I know that this is kind of gross, but I feel a little sense of pride knowing that I could do something like that. I don’t sweat nearly that much anymore, but at least I’ve started sweating again.1

In addition to improving my health, bike commuting is also turning out to be a very frugal mode of transportation.  When you add everything up that I have spent so far, the total comes to a measly $270.58 – and this includes the purchase of the commuter bike!  If we ignore the miles that I rode in August, this computes to a per mile cost of $0.35.  This figure is only going to get better as I begin to put more and more miles on the bike.

For example, if I don’t spend another dime on bike related purchases, I will see my cost per mile drop after 60 more working days (approximately 3 months) to $0.13 a mile. To put $0.13 into perspective, this is the same as getting 25 mpg on a car at the current cost of gas in San Diego ($3.19).  I think that this is fairly respectable.

Unfortunately, I will probably spend some money on bike related purchases over the next 60 days.  I think I could really benefit from making the switch to clipless.  This means that I need to go out and buy some bike shoes with the cleat that I need for the pedals on my bike.  Walking around bike shops in my area the cheapest I have seen a shoe for is around $100, but I think I saw some on Amazon once for $40.  I also might need to get more patches for leaky tubes – but I am hoping that isn’t the case since I ditched my WalMart tire and tubes for ones I bought at a bike shop.  Don’t ask me why I bought a tire and tube at WalMart, I obviously wasn’t thinking straight.

Even if I spend $140 over the next 60 bike commuting days I will still see my cost per mile drop to $0.20 a mile.  This is the equivalent to 16 mpg.

When you consider all the other costs associated with driving a car (such as the initial purchase price, insurance, repairs, regular maintenance, tires, etc.) I think that bike commuting probably blows it out of the water.  I mean it already is on par with the cost per mile of just gasoline!  I plan on bike commuting for many more moons and perhaps I’ll do a more indepth cost analysis between it and driving a car.  That may really blow my mind.

  1. One relatively gross side effect of my sweating has been the appearance of salt deposits on the strap of the backpack I lug my work clothes and lunch around with.  I didn’t notice it until just a few days ago.  I will probably just soak the backpack for a day or two in some water to make it all go away. []