A practical guide to cycling to save petrol

As national gas prices peak at an average of $ 4 per gallon (even over $ 5 in some areas) more drivers are considering parking their car in the garage and making more of their necessary trips by bike.

“Bicycle traffic has increased significantly,” says Portland, Oregon, bicycle commuter Jenna Phillips, who shares it daily cycling experiences at TikTok and is an advocate for various cycling-related things throughout the city.

Although gas prices have really played a role, she says that the increased bicycle traffic is also partly due to the general increased bicycle interest that the pandemic entails. According to a 2021 survey by the advocate group PeopleForBikes, at least 10 percent of Americans engaged in cycling “in a new way” during the first part of the pandemic, and various reports point to a robust 2022 and beyond for cycling.

If you are among the many who are considering switching, know that bicycle commuting is possible, and certainly save money as long as you take a few things into account before you start.

Cost savings between driving and cycling

Holistically, you will not spend as much as normal.

Where you mainly save money is fuel costs. Even with an e-bike, you spend money on the dollar to charge and use your bike compared to the pump.

Let’s say you drive close to or on average off 39 miles a day in a gasoline-powered vehicle that gets 30 miles per gallon with a 13-liter tank. With current gas prices, you spend at least $ 52 every ten days to refill your tank. In the course of a year, it amounts to almost 1,900 dollars.

According to Electric bicycle report, a typical electric bike battery is 500Wh and not all electricity that comes out of your wall socket ends up in your e-bike’s battery cells. During charging, your e-bike can lose up to 20 percent of the transmitted power due to inefficiency in the process, so it can be difficult to estimate your charging costs. With the average cost of electricity in the United States around 10.59 cents per kilowatt houryou can use a 1.25x multiplier to take into account the unpredictable energy loss.

(0.5 kWh battery size x 1.25) x 0.106 USD electricity cost = 0.066 USD per charge

Phillips estimated her costs using this formula. She says she charges about every other day, so over the course of a year, she decided it would cost her (0.066 per charge * 182 days) = about $ 12,045 to charge her e-bike. Daily charge would only double that cost to $ 24.

You can get into a high-quality electric bike for about $ 2,000, so even with the cost of equipment, there are still pens to ride. Your cost savings would be enhanced as you become more comfortable cycling and riding more. A good non-electric commuter bike should not cost more than $ 1,200, so it can further increase your savings.

If you commit to driving less, you also save money on maintenance and wear and tear on your vehicle over time. Bicycle maintenance is much cheaper than a car, and there is a lot you can learn to repair and replace your bike on your own.

You can also potentially save on health costs by doing something that is good for you. In just one example, a 2011 Preventive medicine study found “significantly improved VO2 max and cardiorespiratory fitness”, among other benefits after just eight weeks of commuting cycling.

Costs to keep in mind when you start cycling

In addition to the cost of the bike and any accessories, a first cost that many forget about is bike insurance.

With the vast majority of ordinary homeowners ‘or tenants’ policies, bikes up to $ 2,000 are normally covered for theft and general loss. E-bike commuters may need to add extra coverage for more expensive bikes, and it can cost anywhere from $ 100 to $ 300 per year, depending on the value of the bike.

Where this becomes more difficult is to add coverage to be involved in a bicycle accident. While most health insurance policies will cover some medical bills related to any injuries, there are supplementary plans to cover injuries if you are involved in an accident that is not your fault. It is important to discuss the details with your insurance agent as plans and policies vary widely.

Maintenance is another cost to consider. Standard bike maintenance is inexpensive and costs about $ 70 for fine tuning and service. Tire repairs are usually under $ 30, and modern commuter bikes are built to take on the wear and tear of daily travel (learning to do simple home maintenance can help you save on some of these costs).

Electric bikes have higher maintenance costs, especially if they have built-in batteries. Routine maintenance often has to be performed by qualified mechanics at a reputable store, and adjustments start at $ 80 and go up from there. There are also potential longer waiting times for service given the increasing popularity of electric cycling.

Time difference considerations between cycling and driving

Phillips, who is completely car-free, notes that it takes more time to cycle to a destination than to drive a car, but some of it can be alleviated with the help of public transport, as she uses to get to her office, which is several miles away. . away from her home. This is largely due to your city’s own transit system and bicycle accessibility to get to a station, but it can be done with some advance planning.

However, Bozeman, Montana, bicycle commuter Joe Cartwright discovers that he actually saves time by cycling through his smaller town because he does not have to deal with parking and the traffic that consumes the city’s core.

“I see it as a combination of comfort, exercise and enjoyment,” he says.

Overall, the length of your commuting and navigable streets will dictate any time differences, but it’s a good bet that at least when you start cycling, things will take a little longer.

Things to keep in mind for safer bicycle commuting

Bicycle commuting provides a completely different set of necessary awareness and safety understanding compared to driving a car.

“There are certain behaviors in cars to learn, which streets to navigate, but for me I have learned so much to ride with people,” says Phillips.

“You have to anticipate what drivers will do before they do,” Cartwright added.

Bicycle commuting is not an exact science, and it takes some time to master routes, understand local bicycle laws and be as visible as possible at all times. When you start, riding with a friend or local riding group can help you become comfortable with the challenges and opportunities of your specific city. Adequate lighting on the front and back of your bike is crucial, especially if your commute requires you to ride before dawn and after dusk, which it could do during the winter months.

Phillips notes that the heavier weight of her e-bike requires a little pre-planning when it is moved up the stairs to an office or to public transport. Understanding and testing your physical and comfort limitations with your bike before you start commuting is highly advisable.

The best types of bicycles for commuting

There are more options for commuting bikes than ever before. A suitable commuter has reliable components, weather preparedness options and a solid gear range that will help you get over slopes and unpredictable roads.

Necessary accessories for bicycle commuting

Gathering some extras before you go will make your commute much safer, easier and maybe even more fun.

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