Bikes Are Faster Than Cars

When you own a car, you spend time in it driving and sitting in traffic.  You spend time parking it, washing it, cleaning it, and gassing it up.  You spend time at work earning money to pay for the car, the insurance, the gas, the repairs, taxes and registration.

In the end, the average American spends 4.4 hours per day either using the car, maintaining the car, or earning money to pay for the car – not to mention the time looking for the best car insurance comparison.  That same average American drives 7500 miles per year.  That American probably believes that his car goes 75 MPH, but the math says that he averages 7500/(4.4*365) = 4.7 MPH (hour being hour invested for the convenience of easy mobility)

I don’t know about you, but I can ride my bike a lot faster.  But to be fair, let’s do a strict comparison.

I purchased my bike for $600 (more than I would spend now, but when I bought it 10 years ago I thought I was being frugal).  Amortized over 10 years, that’s $60/year.  That is equivalent to 1.2 hours after taxes.  I do my own maintenance, but do have to change tires and tubes occasionally.  Let’s say $60/year.  That’s another 1.2 hours of work.  I also spend some time doing maintenance, maybe 5 hours per year if we assume worst case.  In the end, these numbers are all negligible when considering how much I ride.  So, now i can safely say that I ride 15 MPH, 3 times as fast as the average American in their car.

Interesting fact: A gallon of gasoline contains 31,000 calories.  A car that gets 25 MPG would therefore would require 8680 calories to drive my daily commute to work.  On my bike, I burn 500.  I’m 17.36 times more efficient.

It also helps that biking is healthier, cheaper, more fun, and more environmentally friendly.  :)

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7 Responses to Bikes Are Faster Than Cars

  1. [...] Why should I bike to work, rather than drive?  Wouldn’t driving save time? [...]

  2. [...] taking a look like this, it isn’t a stretch to conclude that bikes are faster than cars. If we also remember that biking saves time otherwise spent exercising in a gym, then the gap [...]

  3. thegoblinchief says:

    Interesting way to say bikes are “faster” than cars. I personally love biking, but I think selling bikes via the financial savings is hard – especially since the first year of biking can be just as expensive as driving a car on a per mile basis, though of course that drops rapidly over time.

    I try to sell people on the health/mood/environment angle, with the finance being a bonus.

    • Biking, like most other things in the “Brave New Lifestyle” has many benefits. But since most people come to the site looking for education, motivation, or inspiration in the area of finances, that’s how I sold it here. No doubt, you’re right though. It’s healthier, more environmentally friendly, and cheaper than driving a car.

      The same can be said for many other things like gardening, some forms of alternative energy, and drinking tap water.

  4. Matt says:

    Curious about some of the figures here–can you share where you get the 4.4 hours/day for car use/time spent working to pay for the car? Would love to see the sources and that figure itemized.

    Thanks!

    • Matt,

      Unfortunately this was written over 3 years ago, when my site was young and hardly anyone ever visited. Also, I was even more horrible at writing then than I am now. So basically I’m making excuses before I admit that I don’t remember where I got the 4.4 hours, and I wasn’t wise enough to site or link to where I got it at the time.

      Some of these older articles I’ve considered removing since they aren’t all that helpful and weren’t written well at all. Eventually I’ll hopefully re-write this article with a lot more data and examples. Until then, sorry but I can’t answer your question.

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