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 Replies

  • 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.

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

  • 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…

  • 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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