Does it cost more to commute to work by car, or by bike?
Seems like the answer would be rather obvious. Gas is expensive and cars are inefficient and heavy--while bikes are cheap, light, and efficient. Surely, then, riding a bike much be cheaper!
But fancy energy foods like GU and Powerbars aren't cheap. One packet of GU (100 calories) costs about $1.35 at REI. How many GU packets do I need to pedal my bike to work?
Time for a spreadsheet. According to my Garmin bike computer, I burn about 1700 calories on my 34-mile ride to and from work (I ride fast, since I'm training for the CTR). That translates into 17 GU packets, for a total cost of $22.95.Yikes!
OK, but what about driving. Between my Honda Element and Honda Fit, I get about 28 miles/gallon. Therefore, I burn about 1.2 gallons of gas getting to work and back. At today's gas prices, that's about $3.95.
So, it looks like riding is WAY more expensive than driving. Even adding in the cost of wear and tear on the car, maintenance, etc., I'd have a hard time stretching $3.95 anywhere close to $22.95.
But I don't eat GU packets for breakfast--or for lunch. How about if I power my bike commute with Cheerios and skim milk (the breakfast of Cat 6 champions)? That comes out to $3.62. Much better!
Lots of college students ride their bikes to work, and they're not exactly flush with money to buy GU. When I was in college, I ate a lot of Ramen noodles. My spreadsheet reports that commuting on Ramen only costs 76 cents. Yeah, WAY cheaper than driving! Maybe I should eat more Ramen.
Now that I've got my nifty spreadsheet, I'm going to plug in some more foods. Steaks, pinto beans, etc...