Our local NPR station, KPCC 89.3 is doing a story on bicycling, and how it affects home economics in these trying times… These are my responses to their questionnaire.
Tell the story of how your bicycle is changing your financial picture.
Largely because we choose to bike as our primary form of transportation, and do not own a car, my partner and I have disposable income, even as poorly paid graduate students. We can max out our Roth IRAs (and then some) each year, and still have money left over to rent a car once a month or so, to get up into the Sierras or out into the desert, or to visit family in Santa Barbara. We live comfortably, but frugally, and have no consumer debt. The situation would likely be very different if we had even one, let alone two cars.
In what ways has the price of gas changed your relationship with the bicycle?
I’ve always used a bike as my primary vehicle, so the “high” gas prices really don’t have much to do with my bicycle relationship. Except in extraordinary cases (someone with a long commute and lousy fuel efficiency), fuel costs are not the largest portion of the expense of owning a car. Insurance, depreciation, maintenance, financing, registration, parking tickets, etc. are all significant, but they are “fixed” costs, which you will pay largely regardless of how much you drive, and so most people take them as given, because they assume they can’t live without a car. Most of the economic benefits of bicycling only accrue when you get rid of the car completely, and avoid those fixed costs.