Thursday, June 14, 2012

Get rich slowly riding your bike to work!

by Michelle Stenzel

I donated my trusty red balloon-tire Schwinn cruiser to Working Bikes Cooperative a few weeks ago and was sad to part with it. The bike had served me well commuting to work as well as running errands in the neighborhood for many years, but I had purchased a more lightweight one that was more suitable to my height, and space considerations forced me give the Schwinn away. It helped to know that Working Bikes would fix it up and provide it to someone in underserved communities within the Chicago region or internationally.

My beloved Schwinn bike helped me save more than $3,000 by transporting me to work for nine years.

Although I knew the cruiser had been a reliable mode of transport for me for nearly 9 years, I didn't realize how much money I had saved until I crunched the numbers, and that figure turned out to be more than $3,000!


Here's how I calculated it:  I had commuted to work on the bike instead of taking the CTA for $2.25 a ride, at least a few months a year, for the past nine years. At first I only rode the bike to commute about 4 months a year, and worked up to 12 months a year for the first time from 2011 - 2012. I averaged 5.5 months a year of bike commuting over that time, and estimated that I rode it 4 days a week during those months (although it was likely more). So the numbers are:

  • 1,607 = estimated number of work trips I took on the bike instead of the CTA
  • $3,615.75 = what it would have cost me on the CTA
  • $550 = what I spent buying the bike and total repairs during that time (I'm not great with the whole "tune ups" thing -- you can judge me -- and the bike cost about $450)
  • $3,065.75 = amount of money saved!

OK, $3,065.75 is not going to fund my retirement completely, but it's real money that's in savings due to my bike commuting. These figures don't even consider all the leisure trips that I made on my bike instead of taking the CTA, or driving my car, with all those affiliated gas and parking costs. 

Saving money is not the primary reason that I ride my bike for transportation, but it's a nice perk along with all the others! 

You're on Twitter? So are we, @BikeWalkLP !


  1. Hi
    Based on my experience , I think your overall benefit from this is greater (note: I'm not using the word 'more') than the $3000+ you've saved on transport. ;)

    Ps: Love your posts!

    1. Thanks for commenting, and I'm glad you enjoy reading the blog! Yes, bicycling is good for pretty much everything that ails us, personally and as a society. -- Michelle