Nov 10, 2008

Two Ways Biking Substantially Improves Your Life

I mentioned before that I would be getting rid of my car and instead buying a bike. It turns out that I couldn't wait before selling my car and I got the bike anyway. (Don't worry, I shan't be keeping the car, she'll still be sold when I planned, I just so happened to buy the bike a bit earlier.)

So far, the bike has been a revelation to me. I have been out on numerous occasions, done some things I have never done before and even taken part in some crazy shenanigans. After only a month of having the bike, I am completely devoted to it, the lifestyle it creates for me and the way it makes me feel.

But let me tell you about the two ways I think it has already brought me a lot of joy and happiness and how getting a bike can do the same for you.

Saving Money
Me Mountain Biking
Photo: brimelow

I wondered whether this was too obvious but then I figured out the something which was not quite as obvious. It is all about how much money you'll actually save rather than the fact that you'll be saving something.

You'd be surprised at the amount of money you do actually save by not having a car (or should I say how much you spend by having one). The outlay required to just own a car seems to keep getting larger and though petrol prices are not as high as they once were, it is still a huge outlay even for someone like me who hardly ever drives anywhere.

Taking a look at my approximate outgoings for the car on a monthly basis:

  • $20.00 - insurance
  • $6.00 - breakdown cover
  • $17.50 - road licensing
  • $12.50 - Warrant of Fitness
  • $80.00 - repairs (from the last two bills)
  • $7.50 - residential parking charges
  • $70.00 - petrol (one tank)

I'm sure some of these figures (apart from the repair bills) are quite low in comparison to other peoples' cars but you can see that it's over $200 per month just to keep her ticking over. I haven't included things like covered parking charges either. Even if I were to give my car away, I would still be better off after only 4.5 months! I am hoping however that selling the car will actually cover the cost of the bike even though it is crazy to think how low it has deprecated to (though I did buy it 4th or 5th hand).

By not having the car, that's an almost automatic saving of over $200 a month. Of course, this savings figure would depend on whether I need to hail a cab or hire a car during the month but I suspect those jaunts will be few and far between. Averaged out over the year, I expect to save well over $1500 if not closer to $2000. It could also be much higher if you take into account that I would probably fill up way on average more than one tank a month.

Go ahead and make a list of your own monthly expeses. It doesn't even have to be that detailed. Write down all the charges you pay for over the space of a month or a year. Divide it all out to a month and take a note of what you'd be saving. Sometimes even doing it in small steps helps.

Another aspect you should also look at is the lifestyle saving not having a car gives you. You wouldn't have to remember such things as paying road licensing, insuring yourself, obtaining breakdown cover, getting the car checked and having any repairs done. Even paying for or washing the damn thing seems like too much hassle to me so I'd rather not do it.

All in all, removing the car simplifies your life further and for me, that's one of my current goals.

Getting Fitter

There's no doubt that I have already noticed my fitness and health is improving. Whilst I used to run around on an indoor soccer pitch and get worn out, I can already run around for pretty much the entire game without getting as tired. The longer bike rides have given me more stamina which is also improving my other exercise activities.

We all know that exercising is good for us but in many cases, we don't listen to the advice our internal mind is telling us. By not having a car, it almost forces us to play by different rules. Walking, running or biking to your destinations becomes a part of your life rather than a part of your exercise regime and is therefore easier to keep up. For example, last week I rode to my friends' house to play Ultimate Frisbee and rode back again afterwards. It didn't take much longer than it would have in the car yet that was an extra 30 mins of exercise (around other exercise) that I wouldn't have otherwise had.

By making exercise a part of your life, forcing you to do it by not having a car, improves your fitness, health and wellbeing without even thinking about it.

Of course, public transport is also an option but if you're trying to spend less and save more like me, then the bike wins for those closer destinations.

Other Advantages

Owning a bike has other advantages too. It uses up less raw materials, it's greener to run, the more people have bikes means that the drivers are more aware of them and plenty of other reasons too.

Anything to add to either of these ways biking improves your life? Any other reasons you can think of how that you'd like to share, please comment below?

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2 comments:

Lance said...

I'm always grateful to read of stories like this Andrew. I am a fellow biker (although I haven't ditched the car). I bike during the nicer months of the year to work. I've just put the bike away, and am back to the car. But you've hit upon many ways a bike can be so good for you. Financially, health-wise, and environment-wise -- bikes are great. I've been doing this for the past two summers, and one other big benefit for me is how biking mentally prepares me for my day. Having some solitude out on the bike path before I start my work day just really gives me an extra boost. Good luck in your pursuits!

retire-at-40 said...

@lance:

You're right, it's amazing how many different ways biking (or walking or running) can help ourselves, others around us and the environment.

I'm guessing you're in a climate which turns pretty cold in the winter. Here in Wellington we're lucky that our winters are quite mild (but can be crazily wet and windy). I'll deal with that problem when I come to it though!