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The bicycle is simply the greatest invention to come to human transportation, ever! Invented back in the mid-1800s, it reached something similar to today’s machines around the end of the 19th century with the safety bicycle. The bicycle is the most efficient form of transportation ever invented and allows us to travel huge distances with minimal energy expenditure. The automobile, on the other hand, wastes most of its energy in the form of heat that goes out the tailpipe.
If you are on your way to financial independence, you should be riding a bike. So without further ado, the top 12 reasons you should be riding your bike towards financial independence.
1) The bicycle can be quicker than a car.
Have you ever been stuck in traffic? Here in lies one of the best uses of a bicycle as transportation. You can weave between cars, ride next to them, ride off the road, or however else you desire to pass all of the cars on your way to getting to your destination. Bikes are still hampered by traffic somewhat, but we have the ability to bypass it much of the time.
When I was in Switzerland a few years ago, I got my first taste of riding down the middle of the road, down the yellow line, between traffic. This is the accepted method of bypassing traffic here and the cars even leave space for you to fit through.
2) Bicycles are cheap to buy and maintain.
Bikes are cheap. For most people, there is no need for a $1000+ bicycle because they are just using it to get from point A to point B. A commuting bicycle just needs to withstand the rigors of daily use and riding short distances. These bicycles can cost anywhere from $50 to $500 depending on your desires.
Once you own your bicycle the maintenance cost is very, very low. The average person who rides their bike less than 1,000 miles per year will not have to replace any parts in a year. Most tires get 2,000 miles before needing to be replaced and chains, sprockets, cassettes, chainrings, etc can go 5,000+ miles before they need to be replaced. Higher end performance machines require these parts to be replaced more often, but then again, they are generally ridden more. My bikes get ridden about 10,000 miles per year currently. Yearly maintenance on a bike should be $100 or less if you stay true to utilitarian parts.
3) Bicycles do not take gas
Because a bicycle is human powered you do not have to buy gasoline for your transportation. If you eliminate 20 miles of commuting per week from your car, you are saving 0.5-1 gallon of gas each week. Assuming you have a fuel efficient 40 mpg car, that is $1.25/week at $2.50 per gallon. Totally, you save $65 per year on for every 20 miles you cut off of your car. If you drive a less fuel efficient vehicle the savings only go up. This does not even take into account the wear-and-tear savings on the car. Twenty miles per week is a very reasonable amount to ride your bicycle.
20 miles of riding per week could be:
- 1 commute to work
- multiple short commutes
- a couple trips to the coffee shop
- a couple grocery store visits
- trips to your friend’s house
Reducing your car mileage and replacing it with bike commuting is easy and can quickly add up to significant savings. Almost all trips around town can be done on the bike. You just need to commit.
4) Bicycles are free to enjoy
So many activities charge you a fee to enjoy them. While you are living a frugal life and pursuing financial independence, we should be trying to minimize the activities that cost money for participation. With a bicycle, you can step right outside your door and head out on a bike ride. Granted the bike riding may not be very good next to your house, but you can make your way through town and get the chance to explore the surrounding area. You can also explore your town by bike and see many things you have driven by before and never noticed. We pay taxes in the US which pay for the roads, so we are making use of the taxes that we pay. Mountain bike trails are also usually free to ride on, but many times require driving to the trailheads.
5) You do not need insurance for your bicycle.
Unlike cars, you do not need any special insurance to ride a bicycle. It is smart to have health insurance, currently it is the law for everyone, however, no insurance is required to own a bicycle. Insurance cost for a car can be $600+ per year per vehicle, but if you ride a bike and substitute it for a car you can save that $600 bringing you closer to financial independence. Even if you do not forgo a car, your annual mileage will decrease which can be used to get a deduction on your insurance. Never forget the low mileage discount on insurance. It is never advertised but is there nonetheless.
6) Your commute to work sucks. Use that time to exercise!
I for one, hate the morning commute to work. My current commute is 27 miles and takes 45 min – 1 hour by car. I usually ride my bike for this commute 3 times per week, which allows me to get in some much-needed exercise. It ends up being 2.5 hours of exercise 3 days per week just from commuting. I am by no means saying everyone should replace their long commute with bike riding as much as I do. However, any amount that you can replace is a step forward. A car commute is a colossal waste of time, but if you can transform it into your daily exercise, then you just bought yourself extra hours in the day. You no longer need to schedule the time to exercise after work is over because your transportation to and from work is your exercise. This is a huge win and lets us spend more time with our family.
7) Save money on healthcare.
Now that you are commuting by bike your health is improving. You get to exercise on a regular basis and strengthen your heart and lungs. This, in turn, reduces the chances of becoming ill and needing medical attention. In these days of skyrocketing health costs in the US, we need to focus on staying healthy more than ever. By riding your bike, you are taking a step in the right direction to reduce the cost of healthcare. Staying healthy will help us immensely on the journey to financial independence. Nothing else hits quite so hard as landing in the hospital with serious illness or injuries.
Note: Cycling can be a dangerous sport, but if you take the precautions of paying attention and wearing a helmet, you greatly reduce the risk of injury.
We can still contribute money to an HSA to get the tax savings when we are healthy, and if we never have to spend it, we can take the balance out in retirement as another Traditional IRA.
8) It is a great stress reliever from a long day at work.
Ever get stressed at work? I know I do.
A great stress relief at the end of the day is bike riding. Numerous studies have shown that exercise releases endorphins that make us happy and relieve stress. There really is no better way to help relieve that stress than to ride your bike home from work. Letting your legs do the work allows your mind to wander and you can work out all of your stress by the time you arrive home. Many of us have brought home anxiety from work to our loved ones, but cycling can rid us of that problem.
When you drive home, you have to battle with traffic in your car. While riding a bike, you have to battle with the same traffic, but you have more control over your speed than when in a car.
9) You are more efficient than your car.
A car takes gasoline to power its motor. The internal combustion motor was a huge boon to the transportation sector of the economy allowing mass production of cars, but the efficiency of even the best cars is only around 50 mpg. A gallon of gas contains ~130,000 kJ of energy. When I ride back and forth to work, which is about 54 miles, I generate 1,600 kJ of work depending on how hard I go to get there. Since the body is ~25% efficient generating forward momentum from energy stores it takes 6,400 kJ to go 54 miles. So a great car takes 130,000 kJ and I take 5,925 kJ to go the same distance. The car takes ~22 times more energy than I do to go that distance!
In terms of money, the 50 miles cost $2.50 for the car and 50 miles by bike were possibly free. This assumes that you are going to eat anyways. Your food consumption will go up when you start riding more, but it does not have to cost more than gasoline savings.
A bicycle is the most efficient form of transportation ever developed. It should be the most common form of transportation, but cars have brought about convenience. We have to peer through the haze to see that bikes are a much more efficient use of energy and a more efficient use of money.
10) Forget the days when you had to worry about parking.
Tired of looking for parking? Ride your bike and you never have to worry again. Many times there are bike racks for you to park at. If not, you can lock to pretty much any immovable object. I have locked to trees, poles, and railings when arriving at my destination. Sometimes, in a trusted area, I even leave my bike unlocked or just locked upon itself.
11) It provides freedom.
Happiness is the name of the game in the pursuit of financial independence. Freedom is our means of gaining that happiness. Bikes are a means to provide some of that freedom. You are no longer trapped inside a steel cage when you are driving somewhere. If you live in a city, you are no longer on the someone else’s schedule to arrive at your destination. You can leave your apartment on your bike and ride all the way to the destination.
The feeling of freedom I get when I go for a fun ride is indescribable. I really enjoy the wind against my face and feeling of my legs providing all the propulsion I need. It is liberating to provide everything you need for yourself. It is much like running, just a faster more efficient form of it.
12) You can get rid of your car.
If you have read this far, congratulations! I hope I have convinced you of the myriad ways that bikes can benefit your journey to financial independence. The final way that the bike can greatly benefit your journey is the possibility of getting rid of your car. Cars cost a lot of money. Besides the direct cost of gasoline to power your car, you also need to have insurance which is $300+ per year and you need to maintain it. If you can do the maintenance yourself, then the cost is not very high. However, paying the local auto shop to work on your car is outrageous. Every minor repair cost at least $200. For that cost, you could buy a new bike!
The costs of maintenance, insurance, and gas pale in comparison to the initial purchase price of cars. Even if you pay $10,000 for a car, a fairly good deal and you drive that car for 10 years, it still cost you $1,000 per year to just buy it. With all of the other costs, a car can cost between $1,000 and $5,000 per year for gas, insurance, taxes, and car cost!
Just imagine a life without paying for a car. This could be a life of freedom, and you could save an extra $1,000+ per vehicle into your financial independence savings bringing freedom ever closer.
Bikes are a source of fun and freedom. They can set you free from the man and put you on a path to happiness like no other machine. I have ridden for transportation and for fun for 15 years and can’t imagine another way of life. However, if you are just starting out, any riding that displaces the use of a vehicle can set you free. The more you ride, the more you will want to ride. Beware it can be addictive. I hope you can join me on the bike path to financial independence.
Do you ride? How much do you save from your auto expenses by riding? Let me know in the comments.