Want A Raise? Ride your Bike. I always knew I would save money if I stopped driving and starting taking the bus or riding my bike to work. But when you actually do the math, the true savings are amazing. I drive a Volkswagen Beetle that gets 28 MPG on the highway. According to the fuel calculator on roadtripamerica.com my old Maple Grove commute (44 miles round-trip) cost about $6 a day in gasoline at $3.79 a gallon. Now that I’ve moved to Minneapolis and cut my commute to 11 miles round trip my commute costs about $1.50 a day in gasoline. That’s a huge savings — but it gets better. Add on the cost of parking in downtown Minneapolis ($139 a month) and I feel rich! The green dollar signs in my eyes got even bigger when I shared my bike commute news with my insurance agent. State Farm has two categories for drivers: those who drive for work and those who drive for pleasure. Because I’ll be driving fewer than 7,500 miles a year I am now a pleasure driver. I’ll save $120 on my annual policy. My agent also told me I could cut my premium by 80% if I store my car most of the year and only use it, say, in the winter. I’ll hold off on that but it is something to consider down the road if this adventure works out. Check with your insurance company about your mileage reduction rates. They do vary among carriers, but no doubt you could save big bucks if you cut back on driving even just a little.
To pull off this 365 challenge of using my car as a last resort I will have to buy a bus pass. Metro transit’s options vary in price but for someone like me who will ride sporadically, the stored value card is the best bet. I’ll likely buy about $210 worth of stored value cards this year. But even with that expense, I stand to save at least $1848 over the next year by commuting on my bike. And here’s more incentive to trade four wheels for two. A TCO calculator tallies the true cost of owning a car when you factor in depreciation, maintenance and repairs. Apparently that will cost me an average of $1900 this year. Yikes! Makes my $80 bike tune-up at Penn Cycle seem like a bargain!
Angela Keegan Benson is the Assistant News Director at WCCO-TV and a mother of two. On August 1, 2011 she began her quest to live one full year as a bike commuter. Follow along as she figures out how to mesh the cycling culture with the demands of parenthood and an affinity for 4-inch heels. And yes, she’s committed to sticking it out through February storms. For more Cycling In The Cities, follow @Angela_Keegan on Twitter.