Coffee is More Expensive than Owning a Bicycle

Nathan, on a bike, a blue bikeAnd we’re not talking $4 mochachinos here. According to this BikePGH article, it costs $0.95 / day to own and operate a bike. And you don’t have to tip anyone.

Even that number seems a bit high. It’s based on some statistics a guy living in New York City (yes, the New York City where cowboys won’t eat salsa from) has drummed up, which include $200 / year in maintenance, $60 / year to replace helmets and gear, and $70 / year for new tires, helmets, seats, etc.

I’m no daily commuter, but I find those numbers to be pushing the higher limits of reality. I spend $70 / year to have my bike professionally tuned up. Maybe I should do that twice a year, but I don’t, so face the facts and if it irks you, bring it up and the next Fireman’s Ball. So let’s say $140 / year for those of you who like to have your tweaks and lubes up to date.

I spent $40 on a helmet several years ago and have yet to replace it. I doubt anyone buys a new helmet every year, though perhaps some people do spend nearly that amount on stickers like “Your Car is a Gas” or “Don’t Eat Meat, You Suck.” Maybe $40 / year to replace the pair of jeans you accidentally tear in your chain riding home drunk from the Snoop Dogg show.

I’ve also had the same tires for five years, and though they’re getting a bit nubby, I’ll probably have them for another year or two. Maybe $30 / year on brake pads, tubes and a new water bottle because the old one was recently found to cause helmet cancer.

The NYC numbers also reflect $60 / year on a bike that cost $600 and should last for 10 years. My bike was $350 and will easily last 20 years, and I leave it out in the rain and carry it all across the USA on the back of a car and stuff it in boxes to fly it from coast to coast. So let’s average the two numbers, since some people will always want the new iPod because it’s gun metal gray and their old one is squirt gun silver. Adding plus dividing equals ~$40 / year for your bike. I think that’s fair because every self-respecting hipster rider, and they do make up the majority based on my eye-to-street surveys, is riding some old 1970’s thing that probably cost whatever stealing an old 1970’s bike costs.

So $30 + $140 + $40 + ~$40 = $250 / year to own a bike. That’s $0.68 / day. You can ride a bike for less than the price of sustaining a starving child. Crude, but true.

Up Next: The Cost of Being American