Tomorrow's National Bike to Work Day is being promoted for its health advantages and as a way to help save the environment. What many folks may be less aware of is how much money they can save with a two-wheeled commute.
Karin Weisburgh, a 25-year veteran of Consumers Union who bikes to work daily, can attest to those benefits. She estimates she saves $1,650 a year by cycling every day to work. Not accounting for inflation and the interest she may have earned on her savings, that's $16,500 in 10 years. That's more than enough for two years' tuition at a public, four-year university or a luxury bike tour for two in Tuscany (airfare included).
Since 2000, Weisburgh has been biking a 20-mile round trip each day from her home in Larchmont, N.Y. to our Yonkers, N.Y. office. Little deters her—not snow, rain, slush, mud, traffic, gasoline slicks, potholes, or nasty dogs. Typically, her commute takes one hour each way, two hours total.
While that may sound onerous, consider that she might otherwise spend one of those hours each day at a gym.
Here's Weisburgh's estimate of the major costs and benefits of bike commuting. (Costs are in parentheses.)
Now for the environmental benefits: By burning 150 gallons less per year, Weisburgh saves 2,850 pounds of carbon annually, by one estimate.
Weisburgh hasn't used one sick day in her 25 years here, save after her two pregnancies. While some of that has to be attributable to her genes—her mother's still playing tennis at age 86—Weisburgh credits a good deal of her health to fitness from cycling. Our human resources department didn't quantify the monetary value of those saved sick days, but a recent report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that sick days cost companies an average, 23 cents per hour worked; for professional types like Weisburgh, that figure is 53 cents per hour worked. Using that estimate, annual savings on Weisburgh alone is at least $830.
Our intrepid commuter has her own reckoning of the value of increased energy, well-controlled weight and continued good health.
"Priceless," she says.