Beating the system - the cycling commuting section
18 posts • Page 1 of 1
Are we "beating the system"?
Surely we are a part of the system?
Maybe a rethink is required on this sections heading blurb?
It sets the reader off immediately with a them and us mentality*.
*which to be fair you have to keep in mind to ride defensively.
After a few weeks commuting from Rozelle to Pennant hills last year, which I thought was a dream come true, Im convinced you are well in the system.
The ride out in the morning was fine as was the fast run down the pacific in the afternoon. That was until I hit North Sydney and the nightmare began. The amount of bike commuters was heartening. Their behaviour and that of their pedestrian counterparts was appalling. The Harbour Bridge Pyrmont Bridge Anzac Bridge trio or as I call now the trifecta of death was like a horror story. I would arrive home way more stressed than ive ever been from driving in traffic.
Beating the system by riding a bike?
Bloke at work forks out $80 a week on fuel. I could buy a very nice bike with a free years servicing every year and still come out ahead. Admittedly he's doing a few more km's than I'd like to commute but 40km's a day is achievable. Especially if you were to say "Hey Kona! You think cycling is so awesome. How about I pay you $4k if you ride to and from work for a year?" and I'd be all like "Don't throw me in the briar patch"
2012 Oppy A4
It's not saving me money, but I'm not doing it to save money. I'm doing it because I enjoy it and it's good exercise. I also enjoy driving my car on the days I drive - Adelaide traffic is not bad at all, I like listening to Fran Kelly on the radio when I drive in the morning, and I like listening to the radio on the way home, and I also like my air conditioned box in hot or cold weather. Plus I get to drop my kids at school on the days I drive which means either taking my 6yo into the classroom or getting valuable chat with my teens.
I'm only 10k from work, and I'm only cycling to work twice a week plus small trips to the local shops, so I'm saving maybe $10 on petrol at the most. And I would say that's balanced out by expenses.
What does it cost me to run my car?
I fully own a tiny 2 door barina which runs on the smell of an oily rag and only takes $20 a week in petrol. If I got rid of it I would save that $1000 a year in petrol and about $1200 a year in rego and insurance and maybe $1000 at the most in maintenance. So it effectively costs me about $3200 a year for my car ($3700 if I wasn't doing the cycling I do).
What does it cost me to cycle?
My bike was only $500 which is obviously a one off cost for at least a few years, but there are all the other bits and pieces - tyres, lights, maintenance, gear etc. That's why I reckon my $500 that I save is currently well balanced by expenses. If I got rid of the car completely I would save as above, BUT, and this is the big but, I would need to leave home earlier to cycle every day, so would not be able to drop the kids at school on the days I currently do so, so I would need to pay $10 per extra trip in before school care, and some extra after school care as well at $30 a trip. Then there would be the cost of public transport and taxis for the various things we previously used a car for, and I can guarantee it would all add up to more than $3700 a year.
You forgot the largest expense in owning a car, depreciation. Factor that in and your assessment of the relative costs will need to be altered.
^^^ do not forget the costs of depreciation are virtually zero if the car is 15+ years old, and there is NOTHING wrong with a 15 year old car. Tech hasn't moved that far forward since then. If you are happy with a small older Barina, a car doesn't have to be an enormous money pit. That said, you'd be a lot better off just buying a hot pro level bike every 2 years. Cheaper, more fun and much better cred
Entirely depends on your circumstances, but I find it hard to believe that by cycle commuting you can't come out 'ahead'. Costs will be significantly reduced for most people, and also time in many cases. It may also provide the ability for a family to drop from two to one cars. In my case it's a 60km round commute. By bus it's $9.20 a day/ $2208 for a working year. By car it'd be at least $2400 a year in petrol, then there's parking/ insurance/ depreciation etc etc. I'd estimate I spend around $300 a year biking on the consumables, and given I got my commuting bike cheaply second hand I'd only be looking at around $100 a year on the depreciation of the bike. Then there's also the fact that I have a young family, and if I didn't bike I'd have virtually no time for significant exercise. I value my fitness (and ergo sanity) pretty highly.
Last edited by rangersac on Fri Mar 08, 2013 11:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
De Rosa Macro | Trek Superfly 100AL Elite | Claud Butler Sovereign
You also have to factor in the health benefits, in my instance, I have a 30 minute ride to work, compared to a 20 minute drive. So effectively, I put in 20 minutes a day and get an hour of exercise (it takes 20 minutes extra per day to ride). Compare that to others who still drive too and from work and then drive to the gym to do a workout, or go for a ride / run after they get home. I save on gym membership too.
I've done the sums with another bloke at work, I got my bike for free (it's a 2000's shogun trailbreaker) and with all the upgrades and expenditures (new forks, chain rings, cassettes, tyres, chains etc), it still comes out at 10c per kilometer travelled. Ole mate bought his 1995 Iguana brand new and we did the sums including the original purchase price, conversion to single speed, tyres etc. and he came out to 10c per km as well.
Plus, I get to look around and enjoy the scenery that's around. It's amazing when I post up a random frame from my bike camera on Facebook, the amount of responses along the lines of 'wow, where's that?' that I get... When it's usually just a pic of the skyline of somewhere in Ballarat.
I have a 15+ year old car. Because I drive so infrequently and have so for a number of years, the ongoing running costs of the car are mininmal (apart from registration). It still costs me more to register the car than maintain a fleet of 3 bikes for a year.
In terms of "beating the system", I don't see it as an "us vs them" mentality. The "system" that I am "beating" is public transport. It is not practical for me to drive to work because of traffic conditions and parking costs. In short, it would take me too long to drive to work and be too expensive to pay for parking in the CBD. I never have driven to work in the city.
My next option is public transport which costs around $4.60 a day = $23 a week ~ $1,000 per year. Fine, but it can take up to 50 mins to get home via public transport and max 30 mins by bike. So I save up to 20 mins a day plus I have already exercised by the time I get home, which is an additional time saving. I have noticed when I catch the train I am more likely to pick up the latest cold, flu or gastro that is going around because the trains seem warm, moist and full of sick people.
"beat the system"? ride a bike... for the win!
<removed by request>
I do find it unendingly interesting how much time and money and effort is put into parking garages and such garbage, while a well coordinated effort could easily house an entire company's fleet of bicycles ON THE FLOOR. eg. you could have all staff and clients with their bikes on the office floor, not even in the downstairs car park. If you can fit a cleaning cupboard, you can fit three bikes. There really isn't the will to do so right now, but you could do it... and I'm even talking about crazy stuff like call centres and major investment banks. They have the space for the bikes, they just need the will to do it.
If you were able to harnass a significant tax benefit for riding or minimising your floorplan, there would be big changes. If the Greens get more seats in the next election, you will see an end to the gas guzzling salary sacrificed company car... the political will is certainly there.
EDIT: Just worth a note that the number of people interested in taking your money from you is always higher than those wanting to give you money by several orders of magnitude, and few things suck cash from your paypacket like a car for most people.
If being counter-cultural - and gaining an advantage (health, financial, mental) by so doing - isn't "beating the system", I don't know what is
Likewise, the "system" I am beating is public transport. Driving a car to work in Nth Sydney is not an option. There are two options for parking. Either use one of the parking stations, the cheapest of which is $21 a day. Secondly, park your car out of the Nth Sydney CBD restricted street parking and walk the rest of the way (which many people at our office do, with cars parked near Waverton!).
Petrol would be around $50 a week, but I can avoid all toll roads easily by not using the M2/LCT.
So, in theory car costs for work are about $2400 per year. Public transport is $3300 per year for bus/train (as there is no direct bus service at 5:30am when I leave home). A bus only option is a about $1800 per year, but takes up to 90 minutes each way (spending 40 minutes doing the loop of the local suburb before making any progress towards the city). The bus/train is quicker because at 5:30am the bus has very few passengers and there is no traffic.
On my bicycle it takes a little over an hour each way. I get free parking in our building, I don't get stuck in traffic, and I get 2 hours of exercise a day for free.
I used to have a gym membership but cancelled it when I started cycling to work. So, my theoretical minimum cash saving is the cheapest public transport option plus the cost of the gym membership ($900p/a), for a $2700p/a saving. Thus, my expensive bike is paid back in two years (on paper). The reality is I save nothing because that money I didn't spend on transport goes to paying bills or the mortgage instead.
I still need a car to ferry the family around, do the shopping etc. I hate driving during peak hours and would never drive to work, even if I had free parking and a company car!
From a fitness point of view, I have cycled 43,000km since Aug 2008 and lost 19kg (and kept it off). Nothing else can compete with that!
Throwing extra at the mortgage will save you almost, but not quite shedloads in the long run.
I haven't done the maths and aren't interested in doing them. The ride component of my commute is ALWAYS the best part of a workday
...whatever the road rules, self-preservation is the absolute priority for a cyclist when mixing it with motorised traffic.
London Boy 29/12/2011
Yep, I call BS on the notion too that paying extra on the mortgage isn't saving. Compound interest is the 8th wonder of the world. You're making it work for you, not against you. One of the smartest things you can do.
Perhaps I should have clarified. When I say saved, I mean I don't have that money sitting in account to spend. The funds were redistributed to areas where I wouldn't have been otherwise able to make extra contributions.
I pay in about 60% of my net income to the mortgage, which is why the 30 year loan will be paid off in approx 11 years. I have no savings. Every spare dollar goes to the mortgage. If I just paid the minimum amount then after 11 years I would have barely reduced the original loan amount at all.
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