Saving Money by Ditching the Car

If you’ve ever wanted a breakdown of the benefits of commuting by bike versus commuting by car, Carfree.us
has got it for you. The writer of this Streetsblog Network member blog,
a resident of Charlotte, North Carolina,  is not actually totally
car-free, but he has made a commitment to commuting by bike or bus for
the calendar year of 2010. From his introductory post:

3640460876_c15aaef0af.jpgThese bike commuters are saving some serious money. Photo: Richard Masoner via Flickr

It’s important to understand I am an average Joe, in my thirties,
working  a 9-5 desk job. I have a wife and a one-year-old son. I
live in an average-size city with an average public transportation
infrastructure, and I live seven miles from the city center. My wife is
not a zealous bicyclist, and truthfully, not very supportive of this
project! My wife does own a car and I will probably occasionally drive
it with my family in the car.  I am not an anti-car zealot, but what I
want to highlight are the challenges and choices I will face in my
everyday life and the impact they will have on me as I live this
(sadly) "alternative lifestyle."  These decisions may be banal but they
just might be something more.

I
am choosing not to transport myself individually in a vehicle designed
to fit five. It’s ludicrous, and we all have grown numb to the impact we
have on our communities, on our countrymen and women, and on the
world. If I can do it, there are millions of other people in this
country who can do the same thing, and that’s the story I plan to tell.

He’s now tallied the results of the first two months of car-free life, and they’re pretty impressive:

In January and February I commuted by bicycle or bus a total of 36 days
or 72 trips, not counting holidays and vacation days. Of those 72
trips I took the bus 32 times. February was a really cold, wet, and
snowy month in Charlotte so I took the bus a lot in February.…

In two months I have had the following impact:

  • I’ve saved $47 in gasoline expenses and the equivalent of $457 in
    fixed costs for a total savings of $471.49 when accounting for bus
    costs.
  • Burned 22,356 calories which if I had been eating a normal diet is the equivalent of 6.4 pounds of fat!
  • I have kept 543 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere (19.546 lbs per gallon and my car gets an average of 21 MPG).

Simply multiplying these numbers for the year would equal 3,260
pounds of CO2 kept out of the atmosphere, $2,542 dollars saved, 134,000
calories burned, and 38.3 pounds of fat.  If I had a car loan payment
for a $20,000, the savings jumps to $7,900!

I
knew I was benefiting myself and the environment by commuting without a
car, but to see the real impact is very amazing. These numbers don’t
take into account the savings because of improved emotional and
physical well being I am getting because of the exercise. They also
don’t take into account the benefit to my community from interacting
with my neighbors and fellow commuters. These numbers don’t measure
the impact of  the 40,000 people every year who’s lives are cut short
because of car crashes.  These are dry,raw, facts, and figures, but if
you consider how these facts scale year over year for an individual, or
scale for the United State,  if just 5% of the people  who commute by
car switched to walking, bicycling, or public transit, the numbers
would be astounding.

You can download his spreadsheet from his site if you want to crunch your own numbers.

More from around the network: World Streets on promoting cycling in Iceland. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia on the legality of clipping bikes that are parked on or adjacent to private property. And The Naked City on the looming retail crisis caused by the overbuilding of megamalls.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

STREETSBLOG USA

Study: Federal Funding Means More Bike Commuting

|
Bicycling is at a tipping point in many American cities. Bike-share systems are multiplying rapidly, infrastructure that used to be seen as novel is now commonplace, and commuting rates are growing. There are many explanations for this cultural shift, but here’s one not to be ignored: federal funding. Georgetown Public Policy Institute student Marissa Newhall […]
STREETSBLOG USA

The True Cost of a Miserable Commute

|
What is your commute taking out of you? (Photo: Stewart via Flickr) Earlier this week, David Brooks wrote a column in the New York Times about the real roots of personal happiness that got a lot of attention. Among other things, it contained the news flash that commuting makes us miserable. That is certainly true […]