Biking Saves U.S. Riders Billions

By Adrian Duyzer
Published May 22, 2012

New data released by the League of American Bicyclists, Sierra Club, and the National Council of La Raza show that American cyclists save at least $4.6 billion by cycling instead of driving, reports Forbes.

"The average annual operating cost of a bicycle is $308, compared to $8,220 for the average car, and if American drivers replaced just one four-mile car trip with a bike each week for the entire year, it would save more than two billion gallons of gas, for a total savings of $7.3 billion a year, based on $4 a gallon for gas.

Unfortunately, even though 80 percent of Americans believe funding for cycling- and walkability-related infrastructure should be maintained or increased, and even though cycling and walking account for 12 percent of all trips in the United States, support for those transportation modes accounts for only 1.6 percent of federal transportation expenditures.

But comments made by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood indicate that there might be federal government support for changing this basic inequity.

Making it easier and safer for people to walk or bicycle “is a matter of fairness,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood wrote on his blog Fast Lane on Friday. “Many Americans cannot afford a car or are physically unable to drive. According to a recent Brookings Institute report, more than 10 percent of Americans not only don’t own a car, but don’t even have access to a car. In our cities, that number is even higher.”

It'd be fantastic to see similar support for transportation funding fairness here in Canada.

Thanks to RTH reader arienc for linking to this article in a comment.

Adrian Duyzer is an entrepreneur, business owner, and Associate Editor of Raise the Hammer. He lives in downtown Hamilton with his family. On Twitter: adriandz


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By arienc (registered) | Posted May 22, 2012 at 10:06:50

This is the kind of argument that will enable cycling to make the most significant increases in share, and enable policymakers to sell the benefits of providing better cycling infrastructure. It appeals to those who call themselves conservatives as well as those who call themselves liberals. Money is a language that everyone understands.

As it becomes apparant to the typical family that by cycling more, they can rely on their cars less, and save money by doing so, we will see the popularity of utilitarian cycling explode.

While the study did come from many of the usual sources, it was very interesting to see this published by Forbes.

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By Parallax (anonymous) | Posted May 22, 2012 at 10:09:44

In urban areas, certainly.

I imagine that the population divides in Canada, where diffusion can be much more pronounced, would make a level playing field for all intents and purposes impossible. The system seems to exacerbate this divide: wunder the Gasoline Tax Act, for example, only those municipalities that have a rapid transit or public transportation system can seek a tax rebate. If they're working to implement a system, initial financial responsibility appears to fall entirely to the municipality in question. And of course cycling infrastructure is often seen, in large part incorrectly, as being in funding competition with roads, and roads/highways are perennial political hot potato, so it's no surprise to see there being no provincial or federal direction or vision on cycling infrastructure, which (as with transit) is probably the only way we're going to make real strides.

In any event, there's much more that can be done.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted May 22, 2012 at 15:08:40

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted May 23, 2012 at 19:05:22 in reply to Comment 77182

When one takes into account the amount of time spent at work to pay for a car, the average speed drops to about that of the average pedestrian.

Time, after all, is money....

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By Rob Ford (anonymous) | Posted May 22, 2012 at 16:59:13 in reply to Comment 77182

Hey, Cap, man, right on! You all come and run on my program in Toronto next election, buncha lefties here, don't gotta get to work most of them until they got onto council here by fooling peeple so they don't know how hard it is to getaround inna car here when you need to, right? If they got all them pedesrians and bikes of the road drivers could get where they are goin. Every pushy bike takes up two car spaces! I know, I counted. And all them buses in and out of traffic, a wonder any driver can get any where.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted May 22, 2012 at 16:40:13 in reply to Comment 77182

One might be inclined to agree with you.

But then again, one who does not worship at the altar of Mammon might be inclined to believe that health is more important than money.

A key component to health is exercise.

A half-hour cycle commute provides the benefit of moderate exercise. Otherwise, I have to spend that same half-hour elsewhere to get the same benefit (plus time travelling to and from a gym, which I have to work extra hours to pay for).

So, what is gained by saving time driving to work instead of taking the bike, other than additional pounds around the midsection? By including both exercise and commuting in the same minutes of the day, I have saved time, and therefore in Capitalist-speak, saved money.

Why cycling has to be framed as a pursuit of the left-wing is absolutely mindboggling. Next to walking, it's the most conservative method of getting around in existence.

Comment edited by arienc on 2012-05-22 16:42:18

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 22, 2012 at 16:56:08 in reply to Comment 77184

comment from banned user deleted

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted May 22, 2012 at 19:22:24 in reply to Comment 77187

I cycle when I want to get somewhere and time is not issue. When I NEED to get somewhere I drive.

I'll offer a variation on that theme ...

I cycle when I need to get somewhere that's not more than a 25 minute ride away. If I can't get there in a 25 minute ride, I think again about how much I need to go there.

Now, that sounds glib. But what I mean is, if I have to go get something at Home Depot on the mountain, well, that's a drive. But then again, I could just bike to Canadian Tire in Dundas many times - and pay a small premium, but save the gas.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted May 22, 2012 at 19:24:41

Why cycling has to be framed as a pursuit of the left-wing is absolutely mindboggling. Next to walking, it's the most conservative method of getting around in existence.

Hear, hear.

To accuse those who bike instead of drive as being traitors to productivity is to say that those who chose to commute to the suburbs do likewise; ditto those who drive instead of taking trasnit and working on the train or bus.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted May 24, 2012 at 07:08:59

It's Bike to Work day next week. I just got the route map for McMaster to Gore Park emailed to me: 25 minutes via the rail bridge, Aberdeen and a zig-zaggy route to Bay.

When the King St bridge bike lanes aren't shut down - as they have been by construction of many months - it's barely 15 minutes.

The Main Street expressway is just not an option for me, even though I'm a pretty bold and experienced cyclist.

How is that it's so hard to get downtown unless you are driving? We're a (small) big city. Getting downtown should be easy.

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