Two wheels vs four – a comparison

When fuel prices first passed 100 cents, the extra number didn’t fit on the signs. They’ve all been modified since because the price keeps climbing and it’s hurting everyone’s pocket. So compare the cost of running your car with the bike lurking in a corner of your shed. You might be surprised how much you can add back into your budget.

A bicycle costs about 1 cent per kilometre to run, a car over 50 cents. If you drive, say, 15,000 km each year it costs you about $7,500. A bike would cost $150. Hold on, you say, I go much further in my car than I could on a bike. Interestingly, a 2002 study in Sydney found that 42% of car trips were less than 5km and 25% less than 3km. If you rode (or even walked) on these trips instead, you’ve already saved over $3,000 each year.

Getting to work is another big cost for many people. In Bendigo, even the newest outlying suburbs are only about 10 km from the centre of town. Riding 10km to work each day would save you about $500 in transport costs each year. But that would take far too long, you object. Actually it would take you less than half an hour door to door. When you consider that you don’t have to find a parking spot and then walk to work, it can often be faster.

Bendigo’s bike lanes and paths offer a safe route from home to work across the city. If you get together with colleagues, you’ve the added advantage of numbers for safety.

Many businesses report that staff who cycle to work tend to be more productive and take less sick leave because of improved fitness and mental health. US research shows that building exercise into daily behaviours so it becomes incidental exercise is more cost-effective than structured exercise programs. You don’t have to pay extra to get exercise. You’re also more likely to stick at something that’s incidental to your daily routine.

Your wallet and your health both benefit from taking two wheels instead of four. It might be hard to get started, but stick at it and before long you’ll actually be enjoying your time on the bike.

Remember to dress brightly and carry good lights for those dim mornings and evenings so you reach your destination safely. Look forward to seeing you on the road soon, God willing. Eddie Barkla

First published in the Bendigo Weekly Friday 30 June 2006

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