16 June 2008

Bike/Math Nerd

On my way home, I thought it would be fun to nerd out on math a little bit today. Bear with me.

As of today, I've put 720 miles on my bike (I know this because like a true nerd, I have a bike computer). Now that doesn't seem like a lot, I know many people often drive 1000 miles a month easily, but when you consider that my daily commute back and forth to school/work is 7.8 miles total, you'll realize that means approximately 93 daily commutes by bike, or 3 months. So that's cool.

Now let's think about it in terms of driving.

If we were optimistic and said that gas cost an average of $3.50 throughout those 93 days of commuting, we would see that by not driving a car, I've saved a little bit of money. If I were driving a car that got, let's say, 25 miles a gallon (as my old car did); and I went 720 miles; then 720/25 = 28.8 gallons of gas. 28.8 gallons x $3.50 = $100.80. Which means I've saved about $100 in gas money. This would be great if owning a car only meant putting gasoline in it, but as it turns out in Los Angeles, owning a car costs a lot more than just the gas it drinks. Commuting by bike saves way more money in other ways. For instance, the garage behind my apartment building costs $175 a month for parking. A parking pass at school is like, $380 for 3 months or something similar. Insurance would be probably $100 a month, if I was lucky. And what if I was still making car payments? Let's give my metaphorical self a break and pretend like it's paid off. Added up we have the following situation for 3 months....
Car:
Parking at home for 3 months: $525
Parking at school for 3 months: $380
Insurance for 3 months: $300
Car payments: $0
Gas: $100
Total: $1,305

Now, the bike:
Parking at home: um, free
Parking at school: still free
Insurance for 3 months: also free (helmet costs $30 though)
Payments: none
Gas: about 400 calories per round-trip commute
Total: $0
So hopefully you get my point. If I bike another 720 miles in the second half of this year, I will have saved myself at least $2,610 for the year than if I was using a car for that commute. And yes, that's assuming that I'm paying a premium for parking, but it's also assuming gas is a lot cheaper than it is now, and it's assuming I'm not going anywhere else besides school. I might be a nerd but I do have a social life! Which equals gas, which equals more money.

One last little math problem and then I'll stop.....an average trip on the Metro costs $1.25. The last, highest gas price I saw was $4.97 a gallon. By my generous calculation, and at (a very optimistic) 25 miles a gallon, that's almost $1 for every 5 miles traveled. Which means you only need to go about 6 miles to get your money's worth out of that Metro ticket. The LA Metro Bus and Rail Trip Planner is less generous...they are saying that the 6-mile trip from my place to my nearest Trader Joe's costs $3.12 in gas! That's a whole bottle of 2-buck Chuck! Each way!

Anyway, my brain is fried. But chew on that for a while ;o)

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