Save Money by Riding a Commuter Bike to Work

 The following is a guest post from Dan Atlas who has been saving money for the last three years by riding a commuter bike to work. Dan blogs about biking at where he covers everything about biking and guides people in picking out the best commuter bike. 

For the past few years, I have been commuting to work by bike. I made the decision to do so when my car broke down and I really didn't have any other option. Riding my bicycle to work seemed like the best route of action. It was very difficult at first, to say the least, because I was out of shape, didn't exercise regularly and it had been some time since I actually rode a bicycle daily.

As I grew into cycling, I progressed very fast and learned quite a few lessons. I also upgraded my commuter bike a couple times to best suit my needs. After many trial and errors, I finally am at a place where I am comfortable with the bike I am riding. My health has improved too and I have lost a considerable amount of weight. However, the best part of riding my bike everywhere I go is the amount of money I saved versus driving a car or taking public transportation.

Commuter Bike VS. Public Transportation

I live in a city with a population of 500,000 people so the public transportation option was not available to me like it is in other bigger cities. We do not have a train or subway and the best option would be to take an expensive trolley ride or purchase an UBER ride. So, it is had to be a toss-up between driving and riding a bike to get to where I needed to go.

I decided to sit down and breakdown the costs of driving everywhere I go on a daily basis for a year. When everything is placed out on paper, it's quite astounding how much it costs to drive everywhere. I did the same breakdown costing for riding my bike and the difference between the two is night and day.

Woman Riding Commueter Bike to work

Cost of Commuting to Work

According to AAA, the cost of driving per year ranges anywhere between $6,000 and $12,000 annually. This all depends on what type of car you are using, the distance traveled, tolls, insurance, and tags, taxes, the gas prices in your region and the fluctuant maintenance and upkeep charges for your car. And that is just the normal costing which doesn't include any unforeseen costs for repairs and damages that may occur.

What should also go into your costing is how much your vehicle or bike cost in the first place. You will want to factor that cost in and that's when the savings can really add up. If you are spending an upwards of $30,000 plus for a standard new economical car to get you back and forth you can definitely be safe buying a high-grade bicycle for no more than a few thousand dollars which in theory should last a lifetime. Determining which type of bike to purchase for your commuting can be difficult if you don't know what you are looking for. Here is a guide to help you choose the correct bicycle for commuting.

So, let's try and figure out the difference in costs of what I spend on my car and driving it versus the bike I purchased to commute with and its costs. To start off, I wanted to calculate my driving costs. On a daily basis, I will drive 20 miles a day. That's to and from work plus one or two small drives to the store, a friend's house or wherever I may be going that day.

I own a 2010 Honda accord that actually gets great gas mileage. On average, I get about 30 miles to the gallon. I also purchased my Honda, used, for $10,000 and owned it for 2 years. So, if we cut that cost in half, the total would be $5,000 per year. Here is the costing breakdown:

  • Car purchase- $5,000
  • Annual full coverage insurance- $2,500
  • Tags and taxes, tolls- $500
  • Gas, oil, and tune-up- $1,200
  • Tires- $800
  • Other- $500 (this category is for general upkeep and auto fixes. For instance, one year I had to replace the alternator or a battery and could cost quite a bit. This other category does not cover any major repairs that may have happened

Total adjusted annual cost= $10,500.

This is actually pretty spot on with what AAA says about the annual cost of driving is. After all, is said and done, I was spending almost $30 per day to get where I needed to go. That is just ridiculous!

I have been biking for a few years now and have purchased a few different bikes to fit my needs. All together they cost me about $3,000 which can be broken down to about $1,000 a year just for the bike. With that being said, we are already off to a great start on the costing analysis. Here is the rest of the costing breakdown for commuting to work by biking:

  • Bike purchase- $1,000
  • License and tags- $20
  • Tires- $100
  • Helmet, shoes, gloves and biking gear- $200
  • Grease, tool kit, lights and reflectors, basket, bike chain- $100
  • General upkeep and maintenance (bike chain, tire inner tubes, light bulbs, batteries, spokes)- $50
  • Other- $0 (unless your bike gets stolen or hit by a car, there will be no other costs because major repairs do not happen as often as they do with cars.

Total adjust annual cost for biking- $1,470.

This is crazy low compared to driving a car. My daily cost for commuting by bike was just $4 a day!

Women Riding Commuter Bike

Save Money on the Commute to Work

I could not believe I was spending an extra $26 per day to drive to work when I could have been saving that money for something important or less frivolous. Not only were my commute costs incredibly lower, but I was also healthy and in shape. I was also not polluting the environment by leaving a carbon footprint from my car’s motor emissions and exhaust.

When you actually sit down to do the math, the numbers don’t lie. I am shocked more people don’t start commuting to work by bike. If you decide to, you will be amazed by how good you feel and how much heavier your pocketbook will end up being.