11 December 2013

The 12 Benefits of Biking: Economics

In the movement to get more people on bikes, experts often note the amount of money a person can save by choosing a bike over a car. And while there are probably many economic benefits that aren't calculated (good health, for example), riding a bike most certainly equals saving money in many circumstances.

In my case, I probably rode between 1,200 and 2,400 miles over the course of the year. Not a record breaking number in any way, but nothing to sneeze at either. But let's assume that I only rode 1,200 (about 100 per month) and let's assume that I would spend about 45 cents per gallon on gas. It stands to reason that I saved $540 in gas money alone. And that doesn't include parking fees, oil changes and other driving-related expenses that I would have otherwise incurred.

Although I've always been a fan of walkable communities and tend to stick pretty close to home when it comes to grocery shopping, dining out, etc. (I call it the 3-5 mile bubble), riding my bike has made me more inclined to shop at small, local businesses - because that's what's in my bubble. This year, instead of driving to the chain grocery store for last-minute dinner ingredients, I was more likely to ride my bike to the local mom and pop grocery store in my neighborhood. It's a bit more expensive than a larger grocery store, but I know that the money I spend there will stay in the neighborhood. Nate and I also went on numerous bike dates around the area (pretty much in a 3-5 mile radius). All of these restaurants are locally owned. So while I didn't actually save money, I spent money knowing that it would benefit my community. Lucky for me, bike lanes typically run along smaller, less car-traveled roads. And that's where small businesses tend to be located. I see a nice marriage here.

At a more macro level, I joined the growing number of people riding their bikes to and from work. With our growing numbers, cities are adding infrastructure to support vibrant bike scenes. That means that less cars are on the roads. It is much cheaper to add biking infrastructure than it is to add lanes of streets and highways to accommodate more cars on the road. That kind of economics helps the greater good, but eventually maybe it will become a benefit to me by way of lower taxes.

There were so many amazing infographics about the benefits of biking from all around the country and world. It is encouraging to see so many cities embrace biking culture - including Atlanta!

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