Cycling down the path of life

Calculate How Much You Save by Riding Vs. Driving

I’ve been a one-car family for quite a while. Back in 2008, we (my husband and I) owned two cars, but as soon as I started riding my bike on short errands and to work, our second car sat, and sat. It sat motionless for so long the tires became flat and weeds started growing up around the poor car. At that point, we realized we needed to sell our tiny convertible and let someone else have fun driving it.

Going from two cars to one saved us money; it saved us insurance and the cost of gas and maintenance. I hadn’t really given much thought to how much it saved us until I came across a nifty calculator. According to The True Cost of Driving’s calculator, I’m saving approximately $3,153 per year by ditching my one car and riding my bike instead.

The calculator factors in direct costs, such as registration, insurance, gas, maintenance and time in traffic as well as indirect costs, such as accidents, noise, pollution, and road repair. The calculator doesn’t factor in heath care savings, since riding a bike is much healthier for a person than sitting in a car. Yet, at a savings of $1.38 a mile, I’m convinced that switching to a one-car family was the best choice for us.

Riding saves money



  1. The direct costs from registration, insurance, gas, and maintenance alone are huge savings to me. The rest of those are just a bonus.

    • @Jeffrey – You’re right – just the basic costs of owning a car add up to a chunk of dough. Riding is so much less expensive!

  2. That’s a smart calculator, I’m going to use it often. The financial benefits are clear, I wish I could make the step to take our family from 2 to 1 cars. If my wife worked closer to us I would feel more comfortable about handling any medical emergencies the kids may throw at us. For now, I need to settle for driving less and save on gas alone.

    Great photograph Jennifer.

  3. You might make a better case to drivers if you were more truthful.For example, will I have real savings, cash-in-pocket, from any of the Indirect Costs if I abandoned my car?
    Of course, you show no cost offsets if I relied only on the bike(taxis, leasing, mass transit).
    I did enter my own real Direct Costs and appreciate your formatting; however, I then asked myself if there were any revenues gained from this auto-use(reliable transport to job located where there is no other mode of transportation). There are, and they more then offset the entire Direct Cost to me. In other words, the car more than pays for itself. Do you have an argument that matches that?

    • I guess it depends on your situation, but I can attest to saving about 10k per year by going from one car to no car and riding a bike. I live in an urban environment and bike all year, never taking the bus. I also have a young child. I live about six kilometers from work and my son’s school is just down the road. I don’t need my car for work, so there is no need for a car once I arrive at work. Therefore, there is no cost benefit of owning the car since my bike is actually more reliable, and studies show that commutes under 10k in an urban environment are actually faster by bike (which my experience has confirmed). As far as convenience is concerned, I grocery shop on my way home from work in smaller daily amounts. I never freeze meat because I can eat fresh every day. Furthermore, if I feel like eating well, I can because I have way more money than the average person due to the fact that I don’t have to maintain a car.

  4. I am still not car-free, but what helped me drive less was getting myself a folding bike. It’s so easy to get around with, even on “longer” trips now, I can drive for part of them, and then ride for the rest. Especially helpful for running lots of little errands downtown.

    • @Chris – That’s a great idea – take a folding bike with you. Like you mentioned, in busy areas with limited parking, you can park and ride your bike!


  1. A Safety Fail From the Federal Railroad Administration | - [...] on the Network today: Bike Lane Living shares a calculator that computes how much cyclists save by choosing not …