Are You Thinking of Biking to Work? We Break Down the Costs and Savings


I love my commute.

I consider myself among those lucky enough to celebrate Bike to Work Day (Friday, May 17) by doing what I do almost every day: pedaling to the office.

My job at The Penny Hoarder is close enough to home — 3.2 miles, according to Google Maps — and I live in the relatively bike-friendly city of St. Petersburg, Florida, so I can make it on my cruiser without breaking too much of a sweat.

And it turns out I’m not alone — 872,000 Americans report that they bike to work, according to the most recent American Community Survey.

But before you turn too green with envy, (get it? going green? I’ll stop) there’s a dark secret you should know about biking to work.

It isn’t as cheap as you might think.

Don’t get me wrong: It is so much less expensive than filling up a car with a tank of gas, shelling out for a new alternator and paying to park in a downtown garage. I know because I used to do all that.

But for those considering cycling into a bike commute, you should be aware of some perhaps unexpected costs that come with wheeling it to work.

Costs of Commuting by Bike

Biking to work is a lot less expensive than paying for gas and parking, but there are some upfront costs and unexpected expenses you should consider. Aileen Perilla/The Penny Hoarder

Here’s a breakdown of my initial investment in my bike commute. I included my costs, but your mileage (and expenses) may vary.

Grand total: $530.

Lights, mirrors and reflectors can drive up the price but they help keep bicyclists safe. Aileen Perilla/The Penny Hoarder

Compared to the cost of driving — AAA estimates that owning and operating a new vehicle costs an average of $737 per month — I’m saving in the long and short runs by biking.

Plus, I figure I get additional psychological savings by exercising in the sunshine during my regular commute time, which gives me that multitasking glow.

Happy biking!

Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Her worst day riding is still better than her best day driving.

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