Car vs. Bike

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leeholsen
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Car vs. Bike

Post by leeholsen » Thu Jul 07, 2016 9:06 am

I look back 5 pages but did not see this discussion, so I thought I would post it.

I am curious if the bike people can beat down my point that while a car is much more expensive, the advantage gained in time and freedom is worth the cost.


Ok,
My constants.

A bike seems to have a yearly cost of around $50 to maintain.

A car, this being a used car that gets 40 MPG or better; costs about $3,000.

Seems like a lot, but 2/3's of that is gas and insurance. I figured in the yearly average of 12,000. If you are retired and driving 6,000 miles a year, you can cut it down $500. Now, that seems like a lot, $250 a month; but I maintain that the gain in time and freedom is worth it.

IMO, unless you are going to stay within 5 miles for most things you would need, grocery store, hardware store and pharmacy for all but 3 trips outside where you live, a car is worth having. The freedom of being able to take a car most anywhere in the usa and canada within a few days with a map of KOA campgrounds can not be imitated with a bike on the same time schedule and keeps you from having to pay for airfare or bus fare.

Now, if you are employed; imo a car is even more essential. I do not understand how people can ride a bike to work and back 5 times a week over the convenience of a car. now, i am biased here in houston as today the heat index will be over 105.

i maintain that if you are traveling in one trip 25 miles or more each month and certainly each week, a used car is the better choice.

Would be curious as to where i am wrong.

sky
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Re: Car vs. Bike

Post by sky » Thu Jul 07, 2016 9:10 am

Different people in different places will have different needs for transportation.

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daylen
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Re: Car vs. Bike

Post by daylen » Thu Jul 07, 2016 9:10 am

Ideally you would choose a place to live based primarily on the idea of being less than 5 miles from common destinations.

enigmaT120
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Re: Car vs. Bike

Post by enigmaT120 » Thu Jul 07, 2016 10:32 am

"A car, this being a used car that gets 40 MPG or better; costs about $3,000."

Huh? Very few cars get 40 mpg or better, almost all of them have expensive batteries to replace every so often.

I agree with daylen, live where you need to be. I don't so I have a car (2004 Honda Insight, high 50s mpg), but it's not ideal.

Going on a bike trip is worth while. Driving cars sucks, at least to me. I drove mine home from Phoenix. It took me 3 days and I hated it, but cars like mine were so much cheaper down there than in Oregon that I did it anyway. If I need to travel somewhere, which happens less often than once per year, I can fly or take a train. Some people like to drive, but it's a pretty boring useless activity which is bad for you.

George the original one
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Re: Car vs. Bike

Post by George the original one » Fri Jul 08, 2016 5:26 pm

I would have thought Houston gridlock would be an incentive to not own a car?

Like enigmaT120, I live too far from town, so have a car. Well a bunch of cars, which is a different story, but only 1 is registered for the road. If we had chosen a home within 5 miles of town, I'd seriously consider going without a car as it's possible to meet all your needs here. Such is the benefit of a small town.

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vexed87
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Re: Car vs. Bike

Post by vexed87 » Fri Jul 08, 2016 6:21 pm

I rarely HAVE to drive anywhere. While I have access to DWs Volkswagen Up, I no longer drive it unless DW needs shuttling to a social event or is entertaining her clients at work, it makes more sense for me to shuttle her than get taxis etc, DW doesn't cycle due to a health condition.

Providing you are able bodied, once you get used to bicycling, only excuses keep you from using it. I have a 16ish mile round trip to work. At this distance it takes me about 10 minutes longer than driving on a bad day. But when the traffic is bad I actually save about 20-45 minutes as there's no traffic on a bike, this includes the time taken to park/lock up and get showered/changed.

Most of my travel is done for commuting purposes, if you can live within a reasonable distance of prefered amenities and are in an ideal climate, maintenance costs are negligible. The odd occasion that a motor is truly needed to shift some serious loads, just borrow one using human/social capital or from a car hire/club system.

Other benefits include:
No need for gym membership.
You look good in shorts.
People think you are superhuman when they learn you cycle 5000 miles a year.
You learn to plan for the weather and grocery shopping better and cut down on unessecry trips.

KevinW
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Re: Car vs. Bike

Post by KevinW » Fri Jul 08, 2016 8:22 pm

It's not just the car in isolation, but that owning a car is a "big rock" that forces a lot of car-related burdens and responsibilities into your life.

On top of buying the car, there is also
- car registration and drivers licenses cost money, are a bureaucratic hassle, mandate insurance coverage, require ongoing compliance with vision standards and smog rules, require a permanent mailing address, and put you "on the grid" for jury duty and other government interaction which you may not want
- storage space for the vehicle; lose the ability to live in a place with no parking
- locked into buying gasoline and being entwined in the petroleum-climate-USA-military-industrial complex
- unless you make a BIG investment in tools and skills, you are absolutely dependent on the mechanic-retail-money system to keep your lifestyle going
- car purchases and repairs are relatively large figures which complicates cash management
- everyday driving is a sedentary and stressful activity, so you need to add exercise and destressing to some other part of your life
- encourages further purchases: fast food, phone with bluetooth, data plan for the car, accessories and decorations, etc.

When one is designing a lifestyle from scratch, with a web of goals mindset, all that can be a lot to swallow.

By comparison bikes are unregulated, take little space, are fueled by food which everyone needs anyway, 95% of maintenance can be done with a box of hand tools and the remaining 5% can be done with affordable specialty tools, are cheap so easy to cash flow, and biking is exercise that reduces stress.

On a more nitpicky level, I think the OP's maintenance estimates are overly optimistic. While some components wear proportional to miles, others are proportional to age. Metal rusts. Rubber parts like tires, hoses, and bushings dry out. A/C refrigerant eventually needs a recharge. Etc. You should budget for eventually replacing the vehicle, unless you plan on keeping the same one indefinitely, which becomes an ongoing project once a car becomes vintage.

All that being said, we do have a car. But it's a last resort sort of thing. Most days we don't drive.

SimpleLife
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Re: Car vs. Bike

Post by SimpleLife » Fri Jul 08, 2016 10:13 pm

I was able to bus to work 40 miles to work in a major city for three years walking one block to the stop from my apartment and being dropped off directly in front of work, faster than driving, with a company paid bus pass and no parking fees ($400 a month). But it was only one major city I could do that with. Most of my other jobs required a car.

I lived walking distance to everything. I rarely used my truck but on the weekends. It's doable, but for dating, those errands and trips, camping, etc. a car is worth it. I plan on using a bike as much as possible, but having a car for backup and those one off situations.

saving-10-years
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Re: Car vs. Bike

Post by saving-10-years » Sat Jul 09, 2016 6:26 am

It might be worth considering what happens when you have children and others to transport (the family car) as economically things improve and sometimes logistically bike travel can simply not work.

Agree that best of all is living within walking distance of what you need and having access to good public transport. The town which we expect to move to within the next decade has all of these (we own a rental there within 5 mins walk of library, museum, centre of town, market etc.) But we will have to seriously downsize to live in town so the de-cluttering continues.

leeholsen
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Re: Car vs. Bike

Post by leeholsen » Sat Jul 09, 2016 12:39 pm

appreciate the replies.

it seems for the life I live and want to retire to, a car will be a necessary as I do not intend to sit around the house and while my hotels in retirement my be a campground; I'm not biking to the bus route from most campgrounds.

unfortunately the problem is we are all too old, as driverless cars are coming and going to take over. when that day comes, a car turns into a rental like anything else you use and it's up to you how much. I wonder what car shows will do ? I imagine anyone purchasing driver cars at car shows will look like outcasts at some point.

RealPerson
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Re: Car vs. Bike

Post by RealPerson » Sat Jul 09, 2016 2:38 pm

If I lived in Houston I would live fairly close to work and have an electric bike. I bet most of your transportation could be done with an electric bike, thereby avoiding the excessive sweating of cycling in the heat. Fraction of the cost and no parking issues.

For more distant transportation needs I would consider public transportation, Uber or Lyft, or the occasional rental. All of these would cost much less than owning a vehicle. You also avoid the cost of registration, insurance and depreciation, whether you drive the vehicle or not. I absolutely hate anything that eats money whether you use it or not. Minimizing ongoing fixed expenses is a necessary part of true freedom.

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stayhigh
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Re: Car vs. Bike

Post by stayhigh » Sat Jul 09, 2016 5:26 pm

Bike is also more fun!

leeholsen
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Re: Car vs. Bike

Post by leeholsen » Mon Jul 11, 2016 10:33 am

RealPerson wrote:If I lived in Houston I would live fairly close to work and have an electric bike. I bet most of your transportation could be done with an electric bike, thereby avoiding the excessive sweating of cycling in the heat. Fraction of the cost and no parking issues.

For more distant transportation needs I would consider public transportation, Uber or Lyft, or the occasional rental. All of these would cost much less than owning a vehicle. You also avoid the cost of registration, insurance and depreciation, whether you drive the vehicle or not. I absolutely hate anything that eats money whether you use it or not. Minimizing ongoing fixed expenses is a necessary part of true freedom.
i live fairly close, within 10 miles; compared to most of the local poulation; but you will not avoid sweating in the heat in houston. in july, the low is typically 77 with heat indexes over 100 and himdity in the morning is over 95%. i live here because my parents are great and i dont want to not be there for them, but after they pass, i'm out of houston; maybe sooner if i'm ere with a cushion to allow for some regular travel to Houston; but that's still about 5 years away.

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Eureka
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Re: Car vs. Bike

Post by Eureka » Mon Jul 11, 2016 3:40 pm

saving-10-years wrote:It might be worth considering what happens when you have children and others to transport (the family car) as economically things improve and sometimes logistically bike travel can simply not work.
This has already been considered: You just make a bike that suits your purpose. In Copenhagen these 'family bikes' are all over town:

Image

saving-10-years
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Re: Car vs. Bike

Post by saving-10-years » Mon Jul 11, 2016 3:56 pm

Lovely idea and in some places in the UK that I have worked in (thinking Milton Keynes here) there are good safe cycleways where bike trailers are used and this sort of thing would work. Sustrans https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Cycle_Network has been working to make more safe cycleways, but nowhere near the level of the Netherlands* say.

* No personal experience of the country in your picture (Denmark?)

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Eureka
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Re: Car vs. Bike

Post by Eureka » Mon Jul 11, 2016 4:09 pm

Yes, Copenhagen, Denmark. The whole city looks like this:
Image

Also during winter:

Image

saving-10-years
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Re: Car vs. Bike

Post by saving-10-years » Mon Jul 11, 2016 5:48 pm

Lovely looking city.

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tylerrr
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Re: Car vs. Bike

Post by tylerrr » Wed Jul 27, 2016 10:52 pm

I bike and walk almost everywhere in Boston, but still love having my 2009 Yaris for occasions. It's worth the low cost for me.

MZMpac
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Re: Car vs. Bike

Post by MZMpac » Thu Sep 22, 2016 5:03 pm

Late to this discussion but agree with the OP; the freedom of a vehicle is usually worth the cost.

Bikes are great for local errands and those who live in the city.

So many other factors come into play with regards to people's jobs, commuting distance, climate, civic environment, transport needs and hobbies. Cars are a tool, not an asset, so dont buy a junk tool but also dont buy more than what you need.

I would suffer a HUGE decrease in QOL if I didnt have a vehicle. Most of my hobbies would be inaccessible, having to rely on others (the opposite of freedom) for certain transport needs, the time lost biking to and from work....been there, done that, no thank you.

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