Bicycle Calculations

I’ve come to enjoy riding my bike to work, even on days like today when it is 82 degrees at 7:30 in the morning. It saves me money and is good exercise. For me it doesn’t take much longer than driving either. Time seems to be the #1 factor that people ask about; there seems to be an assumption that riding a bike is a waste of time when a car can zip along much faster. In the long run that is true, but at the same time in a car a person doesn’t get much exercise, unless they’re yelling with road rage. I look at my bike ride not as transportation time, but as exercise time. Biking is very much the most efficient regular means of transportation for me. The time difference is negligible, the cost savings is enormous, and the exercise is good for me. I decided to do some calculations. To see just how well it is working out.

I used this Bicycle Ride Calorie Calculator and the Gmaps Pedometer. And I also did some math on the cost savings as well. First the Exercise.

My route, according to the Gmaps Pedometer, is 3.3 miles each way. A total of 6.6 miles a day, or 33 miles a week. The ride takes me 40 minutes round trip, unless the wind is particularly powerful. Plugging in other details results in 220 calories burned per day, riding to and from work. That’s about 130 work days if I ride from May through October. I’m not going to take off days for rain or anything like that since it probably balances out based on the fact that I can probably ride in April and November as well. So, 130 days. That’s 28,600 calories, or just over 8 pounds. We’re also ignoring cardio impact and muscular impact from riding up the hills in the Flats.

Now, on to cost. Parking in the lot behind my building is $100/month. That’s $600 saved from May through October if I drove. Say I have to fill up once a month [currently it is about every 6-8 weeks] and that the fill-up costs $40. That’s $240 saved from May through October. I’ll ignore car insurance and servicing. That’s $840 saved in six months, just from riding a bike.

If I took the RTA, which I do in the winter, a monthly pass is $58. Riding my bike to work instead of taking the RTA saves me $348 from May through October.

  • $840 saved versus driving
  • $348 saved versus RTA
  • I’m in better shape.

I don’t see a downside.

And since the numbers are sitting there, winter bus-riding saves me $492 versus driving. I could talk about environmental impacts of lowering my carbon-footprint and the benefits of living and working downtown as well, but I’m tired of doing math when I could be out walking around my new ‘hood.

8 thoughts on “Bicycle Calculations

  1. good post adam.

    conservative estimates especially with construction on that bridge..

    i never figured out what i save riding to work mainly because its just a couple miles.

    map my ride [ http://www.mapmyride.com/ ]does similar to what gmaps does but is a little more fun, check it out.

  2. Wow, it gives the topographic information as well. Almost 200 feet difference between the highest and lowest points on my route. Cool.

  3. if you’ll let me nitpick…

    don’t forget that you have to buy more food to supply those calories you’re burning.

    i don’t consider it a downside, but nor is it negligible…

  4. Heh. I don’t really notice myself eating more than usual in terms of volume, my gargantu-smoothies probably replace whatever calories I’m burning and then some. You’re right about the food variable. I don’t really know how to quantify it though.

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