The average American family spends about $10,000 a year for transportation, according to Author Elly Blue’s new book Bikenomics. By biking, walking, and riding public transportation, a great deal of money could be saved by consumers. Blue’s insight rings true: I had a co-worker who had not owned a car for many years, and she said she saved about $10,000 a year each year of being carless. In other words, she saved over $50,000 during that time.
Since most of us are in the habit of driving cars, we may assume that is the thing to do and overlook the costs due to the extra convenience. If a family in an urban area could save $100,000 in ten years of not driving a car, however, that money could be used on education for the children. Today, one of the major costs and concerns for parents is how they are going to pay for higher education. (Typically, it is through loans, some with high interest rates, and today’s economy is not making it easy at all for young college graduates to pay those off, or to even begin.)
Still, young adults most likely want a car, even if they also have loans and credit card debt. This desire is partly due to the general consumer culture we live in, but also simply due to the habit of being car dependent, though they are alternatives.
If the average American has about $8,000 in credit card debt, then reducing or eliminating dependence on a car could help pay that balance off fairly quickly. Getting out of debt has benefits for the future — especially with credit card debt because of the interest rates which can be over 20%. So, getting out of debt eliminates all the interest that would have been paid, if the debt had been carried forward.
Of course, there are other benefits to bicycling such as weight loss, increased fitness, stress reduction, and enjoyment. Also, regular cardiovascular exercise is one of the best natural antidepressants.
The collective benefit would be seen in reducing the obesity epidemic and the high rate of heart disease. Both of these medical conditions cause a great deal of suffering and nationally are very costly. Biking has also been shown to boost local economies by increasing human traffic to businesses, even if parking spots for cars are full.
If you are interested in bikes, check out our bicycling channel for much more along these lines!