Friday, January 11, 2019

#CarFreeFamily: How Much Does it Cost?

I love riding my bike & there are so many reasons why. I'm happier & healthier when I ride regularly. I feel more connected to my community & I've gotten to know my city so much better because of biking. But living in such an expensive city, the money we save from using our bikes as our main form of transportation is a big factor.

On Twitter recently, I came across this, which inspired me to open up a spreadsheet & tot up our transportation costs for the year too.

After about an hour of logging into online banking, sifting through my email for Square receipts, checking each of our Compass card usage records, browsing Modo invoices, & calculating ferry fares, I came up with a good picture of our transportation costs for 2018.

Photo Credit: Flickr via Compfight cc

Here's the summary for you:

Bike repairs, parts, & accessories: $1357
Modo car sharing: $1213
Car rental, insurance, gas: $400
New (used) bike for Linnaeus: $300
Ferries: $238
Poparide ride sharing: $207
Transit: $105

Total: $3820

This transportation includes the daily commutes to work & school (when I take transit or use carsharing to work it's paid for by my employer, so that isn't included in the above), all the errands & socializing, appointments, recreation, & whatever else we do around the city. It also includes three camping trips, three trips to the Okanagan to visit family, plus a road trip to Seattle & Portland during Spring break.

*Womp womp* flat tire #2 on the bakfiets
The bike repairs & parts total was higher than I expected, but this is for four different bikes, including paying to get flats fixed four times. I will sometimes fix my own flats, but it just isn't practical a lot of the time. When I'm on the road with the kids, I can't really keep them safe while concentrating on changing a flat. Our cargo bikes are a bit more complicated than a regular bike when it comes to flat fixes. With the bakfiets, we have a dynamo hub & disc brakes on the front, roller brakes & an internal gear hub on the back. If I can just pull the tube out & patch it, it wouldn't be too bad, but we usually need to replace the tube, which means half disassembling the bike.

We spent less than I thought we had on transit--this total represents an average of one round trip each per month. Our Modo bills are a little higher than previous years because used car sharing for two of the road trips, but we spent less on car rentals because of this. Overall, I think we spent less on car travel than previous years, & less than half what we spent per year than we did when we owned a car from 2006-2008.

It's hard to say exactly what our costs would be if we owned a vehicle. The average vehicle in BC costs $9,500 per year, according to CAA, but we tend to drive less than the average family. I used the CAA car cost calculator, assumed we owned something like the Honda Fit that we often drive from the Modo fleet. Looks like we'd be spending around $5000 annually in payments, gas, maintenance, insurance, parking, etc. However, owning one car wouldn't cover all our transportation needs. I assume we'd still make at least some trips by bike & transit, plus the occasional Modo booking to use larger vehicles or when we need a second car. My guess is we're saving $3000-4000 per year by not owning a car.

Have you ever sat down & calculated every cent of your transportation costs for the year? I highly recommend it--you may be surprised at what you find!

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1 comment:

  1. You've inspired me to track our costs for 2019! We have a reunion planned for this summer so our costs will be higher than average, but that's good. We should travel more.


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