This post was prompted by a discussion between an old friend and I as he was mulling the purchase of a new bike. He admitted to having too many expensive hobbies and couldn’t commit. I can’t argue about his hobbies but I can go toe-to-toe with you if the discussion focuses solely on the cost/benefit analysis of a new bike. Heck, I would say you can’t afford NOT to get one……
Let’s start with the no-brainer. If the bike is for transportation purposes, this discussion is mute. It is mind boggling how much money we spend on automobiles in this country. According to the AAA, the average American spends over 9000 dollars a year per car, and that’s just for the vehicle related expenses. That doesn’t even consider the massive secondary costs related to being a car centric society. Here are just a few examples that come to mind:
- The dollars we spend on highway/road infrastructure is staggering. A close look at the numbers is beyond the scope of this post, but the dollars are measured way into the billions. According to Elly Blue in Bikenomics, the lowest cost of new freeway construction is currently at just over 6 million dollars a mile, while the most expensive is a staggering 1BILLION dollars per mile (Boston’s Big Dig).
- Travel by car, while certainly not solely responsible for our health care crisis, is not doing us any favors. Who doesn’t wish they had a bigger cup holder to hold that 44 ouncer as you passively roll along the road? What would the same amount of time spent in a car per day do for you if you spent it actively engaged in physical activity as a matter of getting from point A to point B? Of course, this is just those of us that survive. What about the 34,000 lives lost yearly in automobile related deaths? And we can’t even realistically measure the cost of injury associated with crashes-especially when you look beyond mere dollars and cents to the emotional and physical cost of injury.
- Traffic makes people irritable and cranky. If you don’t believe me, find a busy intersection and camp out for a bit and watch closely as people come and go. Being able to improve our lives simply by “hopping in the car and running somewhere” just doesn’t jive with what I’m seeing.
From another perspective, what do you get when you buy a bike?
- You give your long-dormant 10 year old self permission to come out and play.
- You engage ALL your senses during a ride. You are a part of the world, not just ON it. This will affect in ways you can’t possibly imagine…until you try it.
- Your perspective changes…a lot. This is a whole post in itself.
- Life (not just human) becomes more important. Since riding by a freshly run-over white-tailed doe with her un-born fawn expelled from her mothers wretched body and laying lifeless beside her, deer crossing signs just arent the same 🙁
- You get to hang out with awesome people.
- You get to quit pouring thousands of dollars a year into your gas tank.
- You can save money on counseling, gym memberships and medication costs.
- I guess the only question I have is, how can you afford NOT to buy a bike?