I'm going to start a job next summer as a sailing instructor. I've volunteered before and biked the 3.6 mi (5.8 km) commute a few times a day on a mountain bike I found trashed a year prior.

I'm thinking because I'll have my license by next summer I won't need a new bike, but also this bike is just fine. The bike just has a bent wheel that is a bit wobbly and the gears are wonky. Would I be saving money by getting a bike and using that, or is it worth the space and luxury to just use the car? (I already have a car I would use).

I was thinking of getting something like this, but with fenders and a suspension fork: https://www.rei.com/product/816068/novara-randonee-bike-2014

I am located on the east coast of the US.

It seems like everybody has a false impression that I'm a sports instructor or that this is hard work; it's not. Sailing can be hard work, don't get me wrong. But I'm in a motorboat following the kids around.

closed as primarily opinion-based by David Richerby, Rider_X, ojs, jimchristie Aug 24 at 12:35

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Dozens of gears, suspension and other cool stuff is usually overkill for daily commute if you are just going to roll on flat cycling path for 6km (some 20 - 40 minutes). MBT on such path is just dead weight and expensive roadie will be wasting its potential. – PTwr Aug 21 at 10:04
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    You're asking on a bicycle site whether you should drive or bike to work. What sort of answers do you expect? – gerrit Aug 21 at 10:43
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    "Would I be saving money by getting a bike" ... I'm a bit confused by the question given that you linked to $1000+ bicycles. You can get a perfectly functional one for less than $200. – Szabolcs Aug 21 at 12:57
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    @Szabolcs The comparison is to the running (and especially insurance) costs of driving a car. And, sure, a $1000 bike is probably overkill if you're only going to be riding it for 15 minutes at a time but it's still a big saving over a car. – David Richerby Aug 21 at 13:09
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    @Szabolcs Buying a high-end bike instead of a high-end car saves a lot more money in absolute terms than buying a low-end bike instead of a low-end car. Sure, you can find a high-end bike that costs as much as a (low-end) car, but by that reasoning I can also say it costs more to live in rural Moldova or Dakota than in central London or San Francisco, when I compare a massive villa against a basement apartment. – gerrit Aug 21 at 14:45

14 Answers 14

Health

Two decades ago I threw away my bike. Admittedly it was worn, but I had that "I have a car, why do I need a bike?" thought.

After a long time in a sedentary desk job, I got back on a bike and started the return to a healthy weight and muscle tone.

Best to keep the habit of healthy exercise by doing plenty of it. 3.6 miles (5 km) is 15 minutes at a casual pace, or 10 minutes if you're making an effort.

Nowadays my car does 150 miles (225 km) in one year, while I did twentyfold that on a bike.

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    Thanks @mike its not just health, its the continuous maintenance of health, and not restoring yourself to a healthier level later in life. – Criggie Aug 21 at 8:31
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    I doubt that many people can maintain more than 15 km/h (or more leisurely 10 km/h) on a typical route through a city with stops and obstacles every so often. I’m doing 17 km/h on average on a route of 10 km with little elevation and multiple long asphalted stretches without crossing traffic (vehicle or pedestrian) if I’m exceptionally motivated to go above 30 km/h top speed. – David Foerster Aug 21 at 12:18
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    "3.6 miles (5 km) is 15 minutes at a casual pace, or 10 minutes if you're making an effort." Not all casual paces are equal. I might be able to sprint a mile in three minutes, but keeping up a pace that gets me 3.6 miles inside of 10 minutes is definitely not going to happen for me any time soon. – Todd Wilcox Aug 21 at 18:36
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    @user39045 I wouldn't take the car even if you payed me for it under these circumstances :-) – cmaster Aug 21 at 20:59
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    To add on this, if I skip my morning ride to work, I am groggy all the day. Bike is better than coffee at waking me up. – L.Dutch Aug 22 at 5:43

You don't bike to work to save money, you do it for the fun. Honestly, once you are a regular rider, you won't want to get into your car unless it's raining.

That said, of course biking is a lot cheaper than taking the car. The car takes about 10l/100km (depending on car model and driving style, of course), you can do it with 0.2l/100km (olive oil, or whatever fatty substance you happen to eat ;-) ) on your bike. The car must have expensive repairs, bike repairs are generally of the DIY kind. Over time, it'll accumulate.

What I would invest in, is puncture resistant tires. Flats are by far the most frequent cause of repair for bikes. Proper puncture resistant tires make your riding as convenient as driving a car: You won't think about punctures. Also, do let your LBS fix up your wobble and gear shift...

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    Honestly, once you are a regular rider, you won't want to get into your car unless it's raining. Since when do "regular riders" let water from the sky get in the way of a bike ride? ;-) – Andrew Henle Aug 21 at 10:20
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    Also, because it's a summer job as a sailing instructor, you won't have to worry about really horrendous weather, or winter conditions - a little rain isn't an issue if you're spending all day in a wetsuit. – walrus Aug 21 at 10:43
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    True, a little summer rain should not be a problem. Especially for a sailing instructor. I added that note because there may well be people reading this who live in places where they get rain at 0°C frequently (like mine :-( ), and that's not a laughing matter for someone who's just commuting short distances... – cmaster Aug 21 at 11:22
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    LBS = Local Bike Shop, in case that wasn't obvious. (I had to google it) – Clonkex Aug 22 at 4:01
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    Loving the olive oil comparison! I'd never thought you could actually reasonably compare the energy consumption of motor vehicles and bicycles in liters. (I'd have done it in boring Joule or kWh.) – mastov Aug 22 at 10:00

Definitely bike that sort of distance. As for whether to treat yourself to a new bike or not, that's harder to answer.

An old, beat-up bike will still function perfectly well provided it's serviced. This might seem a lot of money at the time, but it's still cheaper than a new bike. You'll also be less concerned about leaving it locked up all day outside, and using it when the weather is a bit rubbish. Just got to keep the various bits oiled that need it and it'll keep on rolling.

Don't under-estimate the importance of keeping on top of bike maintenance. You wouldn't drive a car around with a flat tyre, yet I see tons of people suffering around with a surly expression on their face, with an under-inflated tyre on their bike and a squeaky chain, and an impression that cycling must be hard work.

I don't know what terrain you're covering, but personally I'd say suspension is unnecessary unless you're doing actual mountain biking. I say this as someone who has a road bike & and mountain bike and uses both. It's unnecessary weight, maintenance and makes it harder to fit proper full length mudguards.

I've commuted 14mi (single distance) daily for a programming job. Granted: I eventually figured out a route that followed rivers and train lines mostly (so pretty level) and mostly avoided traffic.

It's a real break for thinking about things. The rub is sweat. As a sailing instructor, there'd be some tolerance towards that and, well, I found it helpful to wax the armpits to get rid of that pheromone storage area that is back to stinking after a short trip even if you showered before. Something to think about if you or someone else are bothered with the smell.

Of course you should have a biking outfit you exchange for your regular clothes: normal trouser knees get bulgy from biking and the bottom is not made for constant movement on/in a saddle. Also the bulk of your sweating will happen during the trip. Again: if your main job is sports instructor, the clash might not be all that great and possibly you have to switch clothes anyway. At any rate, you'll likely have a locker and that's convenient.

So why bother with biking instead of going by car? For one, it's a lot cheaper. For another, you want to maintain a degree of fitness and doing that on your way to work takes less time and organization and will-power than a gym membership: laziness or not, you have to get to work anyway. 3.6mi actually is not even a lot: the car does not even get reasonably warm on that trip. It will likely thank you for reserving its service for longer trips instead. While it is convenient to have a car as a backup, it can also become too convenient. I'd postpone buying one until you clearly need it.

I haven't mentioned the environment as that is clearly not much on your radar. But it may be nice one day not to have to answer questions from your grandchildren like "you fscking drove a car 3.6mi to a sports school?".

Of course, asking in a bicycling StackExchange will give you a certain perspective that is not likely to be average. But isn't that what you came looking for here in the first place?

  • Speaking as a commuter, 14 miles is far enough for me to want to drive it, based purely on time taken. As a bike ride, it's a decent distance for a relaxed ride, but not ideal for a commute (imho). < 4 miles however is perfect for cycling in, as long as you don't have to carry too much. – Baldrickk Aug 21 at 14:54
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    @Baldrickk: The advantage of a 22km commute is that you can actually count it as training, especially when done at some intensity. 5km is barely enough to get the blood and sweat flowing. – Michael Aug 21 at 17:03
  • @Michael sure, if you are training for something. If you're just after a commute, spending time cycling 22km each way isn't a very efficient use of your time – Baldrickk Aug 21 at 17:14
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    @Baldrickk It's very much dependent on the traffic conditions. My commute is 23km, but I can guarantee my time down to a minute or two by bike, whereas the car can be anything from 5 mins shorter, to 30 minutes later. Took a few months to get up to fitness, but now I wouldn't even think about driving in. – awjlogan Aug 22 at 11:14
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    @Baldrickk Yes, 24 miles is a different matter! It depends on your busy/quiet road ratio and I suspect at this distance it would mostly be quieter/faster roads, which tips in the car's favour. Mine's about 40:60 (distance wise), and the city roads are busy constantly and crosses a river, so there's always a bottleneck there. I guess my point was that the cycle commute is reliable time wise, whereas the car isn't. – awjlogan Aug 22 at 11:45

Asking whether you should bike or drive on a cycling site ... well, I suspect most people here would say use the bike.

5 km is a reasonably short commute and you should have no trouble with it (if you're fit enough to be a sailing instructor, cycling that far is no big deal). Take your bent bike to a bike shop and have them fix it up, it will be much nicer if the wheels are straight and the gears are smooth. A service should cost a lot less than a new bike.

  • I've weirdly never thought about that, but what should I do for adding fenders? Professional or try myself – user39045 Aug 21 at 4:26
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    @user39045: Bike shop can advise you on fenders. They shouldn't cost too much, and they can fit them for you at the same time. – Greg Hewgill Aug 21 at 4:30
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    If you can fix a small sailing boat, you can fix a bike. There's roughly the same number of moving parts. – Criggie Aug 21 at 7:27

Ride the bike.

First, you're looking at a 15-minute bike ride once you're used to it - if that. It's really not all that hard to be able to hold 20 mph or so on level ground if you've been riding steadily - and you're riding a bike built for that (which is really pretty much anything that's not a fat-tire bike or a MTB with knobby tires...)

Once you get riding more, you may very well decide you're going to "go the long way" as a mere 3.6 miles is pretty much just long enough to warm up.

Of course, that means you may have to shower when you get to work. So figure out how you'll do that if you have to. Because one nice thing about being able to shower when you get to work is that you don't have to worry about getting sweaty, or rained on, or muddy, or whatever.

If you're worried about how to ensure a reliable commute on your bike, read on.

Learn how to maintain your own bike. There's nothing hard about bike maintenance. Even building your own wheels from parts is easy if you just have a bit of patience. You just need some basic tools. Know how to change a tire - even if you never get a flat, tires do wear out. That means you need to learn how to remove and replace the wheels because you're not going to change the tires with the wheels still attached to the bike. Learn how to clean, lube and change your chain - chains wear out, too - and they wear out a lot faster if you don't clean and lube them (the exact lube used really doesn't matter - as long as you use a real lube, you're not strong enough to put enough heat and stress to cause a lube designed for automotive or industrial use to break down...).

Learn how to recable your brakes and shifters - cables wear out over time and you don't want your brake cables snapping right when they're stressed the most - when you grab the brakes and squeeze hard because you need to stop fast. Nor do you want your shifter cable to break and leave your chain stuck on the smallest rear cog with you having to get up a 10% grade with 20 lbs in your panniers...

Brake shoes or pads wear out too, and they're also easy to replace.

IMO that's all really basic maintenance that you shouldn't have to take your bike to a bike shop for. You can find video tutorials for all of it on the web - Park Tool's site has some really good ones.

Get a good floor pump with a pressure gauge on it, and learn the proper pressure for the tires - "as hard as you can make them" is not the proper pressure. For larger tires that can even be dangerous as a large tire at a high pressure puts a lot of stress on the tire bead that holds the tire to the rim - and in extreme cases the rim itself can fail catastrophically. The air inside the tires pretty much acts as a spring to make your ride smooth - a larger tire needs less pressure to work as a good spring. A good rule-of-thumb for max pressure is the pressure in your tires is too high if you feel vibration and hear road buzz on normal pavement.

In order to commute reliably by bike, you need to be able to address mechanical issues that may crop up. Flat tires, obviously. More than one. So you'll need spare tubes and a way to reinflate your tires. You're commuting, so time may be important. CO2 inflators work great for that - just be sure to put enough into larger tires. You'll also need a pump on your bike (for when you screw up the CO2 inflation process and squirt all the CO2 into the atmosphere because your hand is wet from sweat and the CO2 cartridge slipped...) Two spare tubes and a patch kit are probably overkill for flats, but the ability to address at least two flats is pretty important - what are you going to do if you get a flat on the way to work? Another important thing - tire boots in case you run over some nasty debris that gashes your tires so badly they can't hold the tube in place.

In case your chain snaps you'll need a multi-tool with a chain breaker, a few "missing link" chain links, and maybe a 3-4" bit of chain. Make sure your multi-tool has a spoke wrench on it in case you have to deal with a bent-out-of-true wheel or a broken spoke.

So you'll need a good-sized tool bag on a commuter bike. Toss a handful of nylon tie-wraps in. You never know when you might need some to keep in place a busted water bottle cage caused by you allowing your bike to fall into a guardrail.

For a commuter bike, ride wheels with a lot of spokes. If a spoke breaks on a 32- or 36-spoke wheel, you'll probably be perfectly fine to either remove the spoke entirely or just wrap it around other spokes to keep it out of the way. If a spoke breaks on a 16-spoke wheel, you may very well not be able to use a spoke wrench to get it true enough to ride on at all.

For a flatter commute, a single-speed bike makes a lot of sense. Chains on single-speed bikes are thicker and stronger than chains on bikes with multiple speeds.

Let's put few pros and cons of biking vs driving.

Pros

  1. Biking keeps you fit. As a sports instructor you'll probably get a lot of exercise anyway but adding some 30 minutes is always a good idea
  2. Biking can be a nice warm-up before whatever you're going to do at your work. As a sports instructor you surely know that you should do some general warming up before you go to more difficult exercises. Biking for 15-20 minutes is a good idea. Then you'll still have to stretch a bit, but a general warm up is done already
  3. While biking you have more liberty to choose your route. Not all paths are available for cars, effectively you can select something that is nicer (e.g. through woods), shorter or in other ways beneficiary
  4. On a bike you're far less prone to traffic jams. You'll just squeeze
  5. A bike is far cheaper, both in terms of purchasing, maintenance and daily usage
  6. You need less space to park your bike. You don't need a parking lot nor a garage
  7. If biking through a nice area - you're closer to the environment (nature hopefully)
  8. Environment friendly. Well, it's not direct pros for you but hey, why not save the world if you can ;-)

Cons

  1. A car can be faster. If there is little to no traffic in your area, you'll probably go those 5 km 2-4 times faster
  2. In a car you aren't exposed to weather conditions. You name it - rain, snow, or extreme hot, in car you're separated with a metal box from it. Note, you can reduce your exposition by commuting only when there is good weather
  3. In a car you won't sweat, get dirty etc. Since your work is sports instructor it should be of little importance IMO
  4. In a car you're less exposed to possible impacts of an accident. Again, you're in a metal cage. You can reduce impact of this point if you can bike outside of main roads though
  5. A car gives you more flexibility. If you wan't to drop into a near shopping mall, making extra 5 km car will probably be your preference. You can also pick more goods with you then. But hey - take your car if you plan shopping

This list is probably not complete, but I hope it's a good start. Add your own points and adjust those depending on your specific situation. In my opinion in your case pros of bike outweigh cons significantly.

Let me say this - I have a typical office work and my commute consists of 3 parts:

  • 2.8 km from home to train station
  • 60 km by train
  • 1.8 km from train station to office

Currently I take a car for the first part and a bike for the last (a municipal rent-a-bike) but I'm really willing to replace a car with a bike too. Bikes available in the city I work are typical city bikes with an upright position, planetary (enclosed) gearshifts with 3 gears and a cargo basket in the front. The path is more or less flat, city centre, and the bike is just fine. I have pretty much the same level bike at home (oh well, a bit better ;-) ) but I'm afraid to leave it for 10 hours at the train station. But I will get some cheaper bike to get to the station by bike as well.

Also consider what type of bike should you use for commuting. You probably don't need a racer for that. You'll be spending plenty of time on your bike, so a city bike is usually a really good idea. Here is an example of a high end city bike (it can be fitted with a luggage platform in the front if you wish to). I don't know if this particular company has any dealers in the USA though (they are top brand in Europe, along with Gazelle, sorry this page is in Dutch).

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    You could consider a folding bike, or a secondary bike that's poor quality enough to risk losing, or (if available) using closed/secure bike storage at the station. – gerrit Aug 21 at 14:19
  • A secondary bike is exactly what I am considering. It doesn't even have to be of that bad quality, anything second hand at or below 200EUR will do and that should give me plenty of choices. Only I have to secure those 200 EUR first ;-) What I want to avoid is a BSO though. – Ister Aug 22 at 6:53
  • Upvoted. However: "While biking you have more liberty to choose your work" - shouldn't that be "choose your route"? Even then, I'd argue that this is at best a neutral point, given that there are car routes that are just too dangerous (or even forbidden) to do by bike. – mastov Aug 22 at 10:13
  • @mastov of course that's what I meant. Fixed, thanks. As for being it a pros or not - it all boils down to why choosing another path can be better. In general I can think of 2 major reasons why you might choose a different path - to save time (use shortcuts) or be more picturesque/pleasant to follow. For a 5 km ride there is little chance the road is a highway or something like that where bikes are disallowed and even so going other way would be probably nicer. So I'll keep that point. As I wrote - this list is just an opening, OP has to adapt it to theirs needs. – Ister Aug 22 at 10:33
  • Nice Pro/Con :-) Just a few remarks... Pro 6: Depends on your area, but in mine the parking situation for bikes seems worse than for cars. Not because there are so many bikes, but because there's so little space allocated for bike parking. Traffic planners always seem to forget that bikes are also vehicles that need parking space... Con 1: I doubt the factor of 4. It's more factor 1-2 in my experience... "in car you're separated with a metal box" - I'd say locked up in a cage, at least that's how I feel in a car. Also later, that box could be called a 2-ton tank that's endangering bikers... – cmaster Aug 22 at 13:43

I would certainly recommend to get a bicycle suitable for commuting (5 km is a perfect distance for commuting by bike). That means that you want:

  • A luggage rack and panniers to carry stuff. A basket in the front may do if your stuff is light.
  • Fenders/mudguards to not get completely dirty trousers and worse in rain and snow. If you're planning on exclusively going by bike you'll want proper weather protection for yourself as well, depending on your climate.
  • Good lights and reflectors, so you can ride day and night. Don't forget your retro-reflective vest.
  • A frame where you sit relatively upright, for better visibility and comfort. You don't need to race for 5 km. You wouldn't run if you were walking 1 km, so why would you race if you were cycling 5 km? No need to sweat (unless it's really hot).
  • Make sure you have good brakes. Dogs, pigeons, hedgehogs, and pedestrians may have a habit of stepping in front of your bike without looking. That's probably true for any kind of bike for almost any purpose.
  • Optional, but I would recommend an internal gear for lower maintenance. The models with a small number of gears are cheap and good enough for most circumstances. If you live in an area with lots of steep hills and need lots of gears, internal gears become expensive.
  • Optional again, but my next bike will be one with a belt drive for even lower maintenance. "Unfortunately" my current bike still has a long life to go so I don't have a good excuse to replace it.

In countries where commuting by bicycle is uncommon, many bike shops will mostly sell bicycles that lack all of the above. If they think cycling is just a sport, they haven't understood cycling. You wouldn't expect a garage to sell only cars with no roof and no place to put any luggage, unless it was a specialist shop for racing cars only, yet that's what many sports stores sell for bikes.

You can spend anything from €50–€5000 and above on a commuter bike, but you'll always save a lot of money by not owning a car of comparable quality.

Personal experience

I live 13 km from where I work.

Going there by car takes 20 minutes if I leave before 6 am. It takes from 40 to 60 minutes at any other time. Then I have to curse and yell to find a parking spot, which takes additional time. It also costs me about 1 full tank per month (around 60 Euros with current prices). Then I am groggy the entire day because my only exercise has been taking the stairs to reach the office. Then if I want to stay fit I have to pay a gym (start from 30 Euro/month), and invest another 1.5 hours every other day. Plus finding the motivation to go (after a day in the office it doesn't always happen).

Going there by bike it takes me always, be it sunny or rainy, 35-40 minutes (only after heavy snow it took me 1 hour). No struggle to find a parking spot. So, in my case, commuting by bike saves me 90 Euro/month and 1-1.5 hours/day. Plus I don't need to drink coffee to wake up, the morning ride takes care of it. And I also sleep much better after my daily exercise. And to top it off, I lost 10 kg since I started cycling to work. You might want to add also some new trousers in the cost: at least in my case my legs could not fit in my old, pre-bike, ones.

I commute using a city bike, nothing extremely fancy, I just take care that brakes and lights work and the tires are inflated.

Numbers can change for you, but at least it is worth giving it a try. If it hooks you, it's done.

My advice: Mix it up! Get the bike ready for the commute (fix that wonky wheel, get the shifting smooth, check the brakes) but ride a few days, drive a few days, vary it. There will be days when you have errands that work way better on one mode than the other, because you have something to carry that's inconvenient on the bike, or need to stop somewhere that parking's hard. And it's amazing what it does for your psyche to have a bad commute one day and know you can choose a different mode tomorrow, and to just see the world from two points of view.

This thread is already over saturated, but since you asked about cost I wanted to share this with you.

If you already own a car, the immediate cost savings of commuting by bike are nominal, between approximately $0.5-2 per 7-mile RT commute (See last paragraph), or $3.5 per 7-mile round-trip commute if you use the very generous IRS standard mileage rate. Depending on how long you own the car, most of the cost will come from the insurance, which you will have to pay whether you drive the car or not and will be relatively expensive for you considering your age.

Looking at the bigger picture, cycling does have tangible health benefits, and if a stronger immune system helps you avoid one or two unpaid sick days, or inculcates in you a healthy lifestyle that saves you tens of thousands of dollars in medical expenses later in life, then that is something to consider.

Feel free to download and manipulate the variables in this Google Sheet I created to help me figure out my own cost savings of commuting by electric bike. The one potentially confusing variable in there is "rideshare" at the bottom of column C -- that is money I budgeted for Uber/Lyft rides for when I really need a car to get somewhere. For reference, I am a young male who lives in a large city in Washington state.

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    Wait, you're calling savings of $3.50 per day "nominal"? At 250 working days per year, that's $875 a year! – David Richerby Aug 23 at 19:28
  • True, the small, consistent amounts do add up. But when you compare those savings to the potential savings of not owning a car (In my specific case, about $10 per commute), some people would consider the small fee of $0.5-2 a day a reasonable expense to be able to drive to work rather than bike. – Phil Snyder Aug 24 at 0:41

I'm first time here so I hope it's not taboo. I too would recommend a regular bike but please also consider electric bicycle. I have a bike, an e-bike and a car and only use the last two for commuting to work (albeit I did use an MTB for a year and loved the switch to EB).

And yes, I've heard it all. It's not "cheating", it's still healthy, still potentially no pollution, still order of magnitude cheaper than a car (just replaced 4 tires and some breaking pads and paid $700), still fun, and yes I still pedal most of the way.

Pros:

  • almost twice as fast as regular bicycle, so you can use it more often, when running late etc. (in my ~5 mile/18 minute ride in NC, USA - compared to ~28 minutes on regular bicycle + likely shower, or ~12 minutes by car)
  • no need to shower afterwards
  • keep up with traffic much better than regular bicycle (I never ride on sidewalk, people in cars never expect fast objects on sidewalk here)
  • more visible - my Pedego "cruiser" is more bulky than typical bike, and I ride upright
  • extra electricity for "always on" lights (after some modding; I hate when my old lamps used to run out of charge without me noticing)
  • extra power allows for thicker "balloon/kevlar" tires without ruining performance, which helps with reliability and comfort
  • extra power helps with trailers (cargo or kids) or heavy bags/panniers (hauled 2 kids to preschool for 2 years on my way to work)
  • my bike has an in-hub lock with key (and is too clumsy to ride far without battery anyway) which helps with security
  • recharging costs 1 cent a day and half of it I get at work for free.
  • still gives good workout, esp. since I use it more often than I did with regular bike. Riding e-bike for 20 minutes is like 10 minute bicycle ride or 30 minute brisk walk - not a sweaty marathon but when you do it daily it really makes a difference.
  • promotes better road culture since you don't mind losing momentum - I always stop at red light and don't mind stopping often, since I accelerate with little effort (but typically with normal effort which lets me accelerate faster than most cars, using full throttle + full leg power).

Cons:

  • need to recharge battery daily, when in use. I don't mind and I like that it's easily removable in my model (it locks with a key and I still take it out at work, but not during lunch trip, just lock it)
  • heavy bicycle, I carry it up/down porch stairs about 1 floor daily and I think about building a ramp ;-)
  • helmet is a must, due to higher speed - coming from EU I rebelled against it (legally optional in NC) but I accepted it
  • battery anxiety - I have never run out of battery power on road but twice in ~4 years I almost have. In daily use I never run lower than 50%. I could still ride (sweating and swearing) maybe a kilometer or two with dead battery (heavy bike in hilly terrain) but if I had to struggle farther, I'd more likely catch some other ride.
  • just like any device, battery can die after a few years (albeit it typically won't). Still cheaper than anything car-related but I got a new one for $300 and am still planning to revive the old one when I find some time.
  • compared to car, no protection against weather. I wish there was something like the Aptera e-car prototype but with pedal assist AND room for a kid in the back.

I've done quite the opposite. I used my bike for years, because I couldn't afford a car. Since I own a car it happened that I didn't use the bike regularly and now I don't use my bike anymore (for commuting). Here are some pros and cons for the bike:

Pros

  • You have some exercise if you use your bike. But this depends heavily on your life style. If sitting all day long it would be healthy if you use your bike. Additionally, you should stand up and walk from time to time if you are sitting very often in your job. But that's not the case for you.
  • It is generally cheaper to maintain a bike. No yearly inspection costs, no insurance, no gasoline/diesel/electricity. But of course you have costs for maintaining your bike: tires, tube, brakes, chain, oil, cleaning, ... and you can have repairs too.
  • Sometimes it is more confortable than a car. Especially on very hot days you don't sit in a hot car. The rest depends on route you have to take if it is cool or not. Also you have wind, which can be pleasant.
  • Easy to find a parking lot (especially in the city).

Cons

  • Not every hairstyle is compatible with riding a bike. Because of wind or helmet.
  • You sweat in summer. That is especially important if you contact with customers. If you have a second set of clothes or if you can have a shower it would be solution. But it isn't for free. A shower also takes some time and you need to wash more often.
  • It is advisable to have a suitable bike. E.g. a city bike. It has a mud/splatter guard, it has lighting, often it has a luggage carrier (doesn't look good but it does the job) and so on. I recommend using a bike with a hub dynamo and good led lights. It does cost more than simply a bike.
  • You need equipment. Gloves, (rain) jacket, (rain) shoes, (rain) trousers and perhaps you have another set for the winter. So it isn't free.
  • Weather conditions: You are exposed to all sorts of weather conditions: (hot) summer, (cold) winter, rain, hail, ... You need equipment (clothes) and a luggage carrier for transporting the clothes or your snack. I don't recommend a backpack, because you sweat more. In the meantime, the weather is unpredictable. You have to be prepared for that.
  • You also need a parking lot for your bike. It is easier to find such one, but it would be nice if it has a roof so that your bike isn't wet and better protected.
  • Your bike is exposed to theft. Much more than a car. You need a good lock and you need a place where you can secure your bike correctly. I recommend a cheap bike so that your loss isn't big and the bike doesn't get so much attraction.
  • Comfort: A car is much more comfortable. You don't need any equipment with you, you don't sweat, you can have every hairstyle you want, you have climate in the summer and heating in winter, you don't have to do much exercise ...
  • As above mentioned you have also some maintenance costs, but many times lower than a car. Some of the things, which annoyed me was that on my route there are always glas chippings on the ground. So I often had to repair my tube/bike.
  • If there are no bicycle lanes you much more risk to be overseen by another road user. So plan your route carefully.
  • If you also make some shopping, it can be cumbersome to carry that around.
  • A car is usually faster (except there is a traffic jam). But this depends heavily on your route.

you should bike because it helps you lose weight as well as gets you places without causing pollution! Let's change the world one person at a time.

  • 7
    Welcome to the site! Although this is nice as a general principle, it doesn't have much to say about the asker's actual situation. They're a sports instructor, so they're probably already in reasonably good physical shape. Walking would also help you lose weight and doesn't cause the pollution that making a bike does! So wouldn't that be even better? – David Richerby Aug 21 at 13:17
  • Actually, this type of short commute is not nearly enough to have any effect on weight: Biking is an extremely efficient way of getting from one place to another. If my estimates don't fail me, you can bike more than 500km on a single liter of oil. Try that with a car... To have significant impact on weight, you need to ride as a sport, doing hundreds of kilometers per week at speeds that no casual commuter will ever reach. The top of the scale is Tour-de-France riders who do like 200km a day at speeds around 40km/h, burning roughly a liter of oil per day. Still quite efficient... – cmaster Aug 23 at 21:29

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