Sunday, September 9, 2012

Commuting by Bicycle in Vancouver: By The Numbers


We have too many bikes.

I think everyone who has ever come into our apartments or house has said something to this effect. I confess that the thought has also crossed my mind from time to time, like when I had to move two bikes out of the bathtub before I could turn the water on.

As a defense against these errant sacrilegious thoughts, I started a spreadsheet to record all of the mileage that we have put on each bike, as well as how much we paid for them.  Using a rough average speed for each bike, I came up with a $/hour amount - the idea being that most entertainment is about $10 / hour (a movie will cost about $20 and entertains you for 2 hours, bowling is about $10 per hour, hanging out in a bar is probably at least $10 per hour over the course of the night, etc).  So, if we rode each bike enough that it cost less than $10 per hour of riding, they were justified.

But I digress.  This data also can be applied to come up with a cost of commuting by bicycle.  I spent close to 2 years living in downtown Vancouver, commuting by bike most days to Burnaby.  I believe this is long enough to be a dependable average, so here are the numbers:

Bike: Redline 925

Total Mileage: 4,628 km

Purchase Price: $650
Maintenance: new rear tire, new tube, chain lube, new bike computer, brake pad sets x2
Maintenance Cost: ~$100
Accessories: Panniers (bought on Craigslist)
Accessories cost: sold on Craigslist for same as purchase price
Bike Re-sold for: $200
Total Cost: $550

$/km: 0.12

The commute is 9km each way, and took between 25-30 mins by bike.  Total "cost" for the day would therefore be ~$2.16.

Public transit meant walking to the skytrain, and then travelling through 2 zones.  The average time by skytrain was 35 minutes. This would cost $3.75 x 2 = $7.50, or with a monthly pass (assuming 21 working days a month), would be $5.23.

So a quick summary (per day of work):

Public Transit:
1 hour 10 minutes commute time
Time to read the paper / sharing the train with hobos

50 minutes commute time
Daily exercise / sometimes you get wet

Don't even get me started on cars.

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