Sunday, March 20, 2022

#CarFreeFamily 2021: How Much Does it Cost?

Here we are in March 2022 & I still haven't actually calculated our transportation totals for last year. Heh. This was still not what I'd consider a "normal" year for us, as we have continued to stay home more than usual due to COVID, but it's also been two years of pandemic, so what even is normal anymore? ANYWAY, on with the numbers...

Taking my ecargobike to the shop
on my other cargobike
Again, like 2020, we used no taxis, no ridesharing, no car rentals, & only a single trip for me on a ferry. We decided not to renew our Mobi Community passes, as we weren't using them enough. We got around by bike the vast majority of the time which is practically free.

The main transportation expense for our household was bike maintenance. We had a bit of work done on the Bakfiets, a part replaced on my 21-year-old Diamondback, a cassette, front chain ring & chain replacement on my Tern GSD, plus a flat fix & some brake pad replacements, as well as having the studded tires put on for me. Though I know how to do some of my own bike maintenance, I rarely do anything myself except oiling the chain--it's just so much quicker & easier to pay someone else to do it. Total cost for 2021 was $619.12.

Our next biggest expense was Modo bookings for the rare occasions we needed to drive. That averaged out to about once a month, interestingly, ten of eleven bookings were trucks or vans this year. We used pickups to take large items to the recycling centre, or pick up things like a yard of compost soil, & a friend's broken cargo bike, & we went on a few daytrips hauling all of our bikes in the back, to Hope to bike the Othello Tunnels & up to the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve Trail in the summer. Four trips were driving a friend to some appointments using the Modo accessibility van. Click on the previous links to see Twitter threads & lots of photos of our Modo excursions.

Modo truck loaded up with our bikes to go to Hope
I did drive a handful of other times for work, but those trips are paid for by my employer, so I don't count them here. Also when we got rid of a bunch of mattresses with a friend, she split the cost. Our grand total for these 11 trips was $544.51.

I went on a bike camping trip to the Sunshine Coast in the summer last year, which cost a grand total of $14 in ferry fare.

Electricity costs are a bit harder to calculate, because it's only a few cents each time we charge our bikes about $10 on electricity charging my Tern GSD & Oliver's Tern Vektron. I estimate about 60 full charges of the 900Wh of batteries in the roughly 5000km I rode. Oliver rides much less than me, as he's been working from home 99% of the time, so I doubt he needed a full charge more than once a month.

Transit was the smallest percentage of the pie in our 2021 transportation budget. We took one transit trip in 2021, on the Seabus to a Brownies event with Bronte. She was free & I got a free ticket for the ride home, so I paid only one way, $2.45.

Sometimes biking can be chilly, but with the
right clothes, it's fine! 
Our transportation costs were about 15% higher than 2020, with a wee bit more local travel. 2018 was our last typical year without a pandemic, new jobs or injuries that limited our travel, with some trips in BC, Washington, & Oregon, including a few bike camping trips & visits to the Okanagan to see family there. 2018 transportation costs came out to more than triple what we spent this year. 

If you're curious about the numbers you can check out my posts on the breakdown for 2018 here2019 here, & 2020 here.

So, now, the moment you've been waiting for... the grand total transportation costs for our #CarFreeFamily of four in Vancouver in 2021 was...


With friends at the Fancy Woman Bike Ride 
It's eight times less than the average British Columbian spends on owning one car in a year. Possibly even better than eight times less, given what gas prices are like these days. Just the insurance would be more, whether we drove it much or not. Being able to bike instead of drive most of the time & use Modo rather than owning a car makes such a huge difference to the affordability of living in Vancouver. 

The downsides--getting a bit wet or cold occasionally, dealing with shitty drivers--are outweighed by all the other upsides--built in exercise & fresh air, more social interactions (not to mention so many opportunities for two-wheeled hijinks like in the photo to the right), easier parking, near zero carbon produced, often faster. Still pretty happy to be a #CarFreeFamily. 

So, how about you? What did you spend on transportation last year? Do you total it up annually? What are the upsides & downsides of how you get around?

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