The average annual cost of a car can be a drag on your pocket, but pay attention to the benefits of riding a bicycle and you might save a bundle.

Enjoying the benefits of riding a bike - Bike to Work in Sydney
Enjoying benefits of riding a bike
Bike to Work in Sydney
Photo credits: Vucko1000

If you take a few precautions to avoid problems – preventing bicycle theft, for example – you can turn those two wheels into something you use far more frequently than for the occasional commute by bike.

“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.”

During a time when “despair” is quickly catching up to “hope” and “change” as words chosen to define our immediate future, H.G. Wells provides some food for thought with his take on the least expensive mode of transportation since walking – riding a bicycle.

And for the ladies, Susan B. Anthony shined a spotlight on the bicycle as liberating experience.

“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling,” she said. “I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel.  It gives a woman a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. It makes her feel as if she were independent.”

So, what are you waiting for? Trade four wheels for two – sell your car and save the world…or something like that. Hey, you might even save your own life by living without a car. See our Is Your Car Killing You? Air Pollution & Health Risks article for more information.

It’s not just famous dead folks who realized the benefits of riding a bicycle as a mode of transportation.

Commuting by bicycle - Riding a bike to work
Commuting by bicycle
Photo credits: groundswelldottv

Chatter in favor of a more bike-based culture in New York City is spreading. The buzz is well-deserved, considering that one of the world’s largest population centeres is also one of the best cities to live without a car.

Even the New York Times has launched a series called Spokes, a new feature about cycling in New York, spurred by recent buzz that the Metropolitan Transit Authority is looking to hike fares and tolls. The inaugural installation of Spokes notes that 2008 saw a surge in NYC bicycle riding – presumably in reaction to gas prices above $4 per gallon.

Seeing as how the Times saw fit to create a column dedicated to biking across the five boroughs, 2009 is promising to be a banner year for cycling for both recreational purposes and those who commute by bike.

Transportation Alternatives, a New York City nonprofit that has working for more than three decades to reclaim the city’s streets from cars and provide safer travels for pedestrians and cyclists, has identified several reasons why using bicycles for transportation is the way to go.

From the health benefits of riding a bicycle to the environmental and aesthetic impact of riding a bike, they make a compelling argument:

  • Like walking, cycling is renewable transport, and therefore non-polluting; however, the mechanical advantage of the bicycle allows the cyclist to cover 4 to 5 times as much ground as the pedestrian.
  • With a bicycle, a New Yorker can traverse the metropolis pollution-free — on the energy of an apple tart! On 350 calories — one apple tart — a cyclist can travel 10 miles, a pedestrian 3.5 miles, and an automobile 100 feet.
  • Bicycles are many times more efficient in using street space than automobiles, and roughly comparable to buses operating at high load factors. Moreover, compared to cars, and also to buses and subways, bicycles are blessedly quiet. In crowded, noisy New York, the bicycle’s economy of space and sound is a powerful advantage.
  • Cycling is also personally liberating. Cyclists control their own schedule, largely free of the gridlock, breakdowns and bureaucracies that are the constant bane of motorists and transit riders.
  • Much of the scenic and fun value of riding a bike comes from the ability to experience and interact with the vibrant street life of New York. Unlike motorists, who are separate from (if not intruders upon) the communities their cars rumble through, and transit users who are stifled underground, the cyclist can feel and observe the passing scene and stop casually for errands. And while nothing quite matches the intimacy of walking through a neighborhood, a person riding a bike at least comes close while affording far greater mobility.
  • Many cyclists, especially women, feel less vulnerable to street crime aboard a bike than on foot or on mass transit.
  • Commuting by bicycle or just riding a bike is affordable. Per mile traveled, bicycle riding costs the frequent cyclist less than half as much as mass transit and only one-quarter as much as driving — even assuming cyclists must replace their bicycles every three years due to bicycle theft and bad pavement.

That last one really hits home – especially with unstable gas prices; the average annual cost of a car; and, of course, a whimpering economy.

So, what is the average annual cost of a car? Automobile owners in New York State pay just more than $1,000 per year on insurance. That’s the fourth highest insurance rate in the country. Figures for the average car payment in the U.S. range from about $380 to nearly $500 per month. Vehicle maintenance costs and repair costs (depending on how old your car is), can run nearly $700 per year. Gas prices? Who knows. It’s hard to nail down an average, but most people seem to spend anywhere from $100 to $300 per month on gasoline – again, depending on your car and commute. If you park your car in a garage in NYC, you might pay as much as $300 per month.

How much does a bicycle cost? Most people pay under $1000 for good, quality bike. The cost for bicycle maintenance usually runs about $50 for the year.

Can you spend a lot more on a bike? Sure.

Would you still save thousands of dollars per year even if you went bananas on all the bells and whistles for the most expensive bicycle you could find? Definitely.

So, now that you’ve been worked into a frenzy and are heading out to sell your car and buy a bicycle, keep in mind that it’s easier to secure your car than it is to prevent bicycle theft. We’ve been conditioned to expect our cars to lock and activate an alarm with the push of a button. Bikes require a little more care.

Protect your investment and your means of transportation by taking a few precautions against bike theft (found on bikeforums.net). After all, bicycle theft occurs in New York City at a rate nearly 4.5 times more than cars:

Bicycle theft accours at a very high rate
Take precautions against bike theft
Photo credits: ibcbulk
  • Sacrifice the easiness of quick release levers, and get a pair of bolt-ons. A thief doesn’t carry an Allen wrench, it takes too much time.
  • Make sure you lock your bike to a solid, thick post directly mounted into the ground.
  • When leaving your bike locked outside, take of anything that is removable. A thief won’t want just a bike frame. They go after anything available.
  • If the place you’re going to has a front window with a solid post in view, lock it to that post and keep an eye on your bike.
  • If you go to a friend’s place, ask them if you can bring your bike inside. If not, ask them if you can put it inside their garage or shed with the door closed.
  • When locking your bike, use more than one lock. A chain or cable to lock onto the pole or bike rack, and a U lock to lock the wheels and frame together.
  • Register your bike with town, state, and national databases. If it is stolen, you have a better chance of recovering the bike.
  • Inside the handle bars or seat tube put a laminated piece of paper with your name; bike serial number; date bike was purchased; and where it was purchased. If your bike is stolen, tell the police where this piece of paper is. If they find a person with this bike that matches your description, they can check for the paper and confirm that it is your bicycle.

If you are looking to get rid of your car and join the ranks of bike riders across the five boroughs, be sure to check out our piece on not getting ripped off when selling your car privately.

The days of ignoring the many benefits of riding a bicycle are over. With the exorbitant average annual cost of owning a car, it makes sense not only to commute by bike if you can, but to consider replacing your car with a bicycle all together. Just remember to make sure you protect your investment and prevent bicycle theft when you can.

Learn more about why you should choose Big Bucks Auto to buy your car and call us today at 1-888-44-BUCKS or 1-888-442-8257.