by Lloyd Alter, Toronto on 05.26.11
A few weeks ago we wrote that Americans are working over two hours a day to pay for their cars, paying more to feed their cars than their families. While some questioned the math in comments, there was no question that it is a huge portion of a typical budget and it is only getting worse.
Now James Schwartz of the Urban Country has done the math for bike commuters, and finds that they spend a grand total of $ 350 per year on their commute, or just 3.84 minutes per day to pay for their bikes. Quite the difference! But is it right?
It is a significant difference, with the car costing an average of $ 11,000 per year and the bike, including maintenance, costing $ 350 per year. You can see James Schwartz's math here. He concludes:
Based on an annual average cost of $350 to own a sturdy, quality bicycle, the average American will work 15.98 hours a year to pay for their bicycle, which works out to be 0.063927 hours per day - or 3.84 minutes a day.
But there is a problem. it does not take fuel into account; Revenue Canada has determined that for bicycle couriers, food is fuel (see Food as Fuel: If You Bike To For Work, Is Your Lunch Tax Deductible?) and worth $ 17 dollars per day. If that is based on an eight hour day, than food as fuel costs $ 2.125 per hour. (Canada and Britain both allow tax deductions for food as fuel, but the IRS does not, showing a distinct bias toward four wheels over two)
The Survey of North American Bicycle Commuters (pdf here) determined the average bike commute to last 26.4 minutes, so a round trip averages 52.8 minutes, giving a food cost of $ 1.87 per day. Given 252 working days per year, that totals $ 471.24 per year.
Add that to James's calculation of $ 350 for owning and operating a bike, and one gets a total annual cost of $ 821.25, or 9.01 minutes per day of work to pay for the bike and its fuel. Sorry, James.
Americans Are Working To Feed Their Cars, Not Their Families