The 2015 Bike Experiment

How much money I saved in 2015 by cycling

It’s pretty much the end of the year, so I’ve got my final figures for my Great Edinburgh Bike Experiment. I’ve been doing posts quarterly on this, and by my last estimates in August I was up £653.77 against the fictional car. I’ve now totted up the remaining year, give or take a few days as it’s the 27th today and there are a few journeys left in December.  But hey, what are a few days? Let’s tot up September, October, November and December…

Autumn and winter’s numbers

  • Total journeys: 101
  • Total distance: 855 miles
  • Total calories: 27,719 kcal
  • Total climb: 22,702 feet

Bike expenditure in last four months

As it turns out, riding the same bike almost every day over two and a half years means that things need replaced. And so it was over autumn and winter, when all the proverbial buses came at once and I had to replace both gear cables, both tyres, chain, cassette, two brake block sets, one brake cable, and the rear brake completely due to it being cheap to begin with and eventually falling off. Combine that with a service to get everything sorted and I was down £130. Ouch. That’s a big wedge out of my potential savings.

However, when cycling thousands of miles over bumpy, pockmarked Edinburgh roads you’re going to have to expect wear and tear. This is now my third chain and cassette and umpteenth brake block, so it goes with the territory.

As for bus fares, I have been spending a bit more on buses these last few months due to some rotten weather. So I am down £30 for this, too.

Total expenditure – £160

Public transport equivalent

  • I substituted £142.50 worth of bus fares in  September, October, November and December. It wouldn’t have been more economical for a Ridacard over these months, so let’s just go with the total.
  • Public transport cost = £142.50

Car equivalent

  • Monthly car running cost – £39.16
  • Petrol cost for 855 miles – £73.92. The majority of journeys I’ve been doing are in the city, so I’m going to round it up to £80 to account for congestion.
  • Total running cost = £230.56

Gym equivalent

  • Total cost – £122

Grand totals!

  • Public transport (£142.50) + gym (£122) – expenditure (£160) = £104.50 savings
  • Car (£230.56) + gym (£122) – expenditure (£160) = £192.56 savings

2015 grand totals

  • Bike vs Public Transport – £633 in pocket

  • Bike vs Car – £846.33 in pocket

  • Total miles cycled – 2,454

So that’s it, folks! Over the course of the year, I have managed to save almost £850 against my fictional car. I am pretty happy with that, especially as my fictional car has been perfect and required no repairs or anything on its fictional MOT.

In conclusion

I think I will write a bit more about this over the next week or two. It’s been incredibly interesting to tot up my cycling and compare it against potential spends on running a car. Of course, this crude experiment has done nothing to try and understand the other amazing benefits afforded by cycling. No mention of:

  • carbon savings
  • societal benefits by riding a bike (bike riding offers a wealth of plus points in this sense)
  • my physical health and fitness
  • my mental health
  • the “feelgood” factor

More on this soon.

 

 

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The Great Edinburgh Bike Experiment – June, July and August

Summer has been and gone, and with it three months of my Great Edinburgh Bike Experiment. At the end of May I was up £331 against the fictional car, so let’s see where I’ve managed to get to with warmer weather and more favourable cycling conditions in June, July and August.

Summer’s bike numbers

  • Total journeys: 116
  • Total distance: 737 miles
  • Total calories: 29,925 kcal
  • Total climb: 27,088 feet

My bike and I managed to climb to the peak of the south summit of Annapurna in the Himalayas this summer by visiting friends, getting to work, going to yoga and so on. The 10th highest mountain on our planet, Annapurna stretches 26,545 feet to the heavens, so I’ve also started a 500 foot decent. This is considerably more climb than the last quarter – over 11k feet in fact. Just goes to show that summer is the cyclist’s friend.

Annapurna's south summit

I cycled to the top of Annapurna’s south summit. Thanks to creative commons twiga269 for the use of the image

Bike expenditure in last three months

  • No bike maintenance over the summer period – the bike was happy as a clam, just like me.
  • £21 – Bus fares in total. I didn’t take the bus much over summer at all because my knees have been behaving.
  • Total = £21.00

Public transport equivalent

  • I substituted £219 worth of bus fares in June, July and August so the £51 monthly Ridacard would have been considerably more cost-effective.
  • Ridacard cost = £153

Car equivalent

  • Monthly car running cost – £39.16
  • Petrol cost for 737 miles – £91.82. The majority of journeys I’ve been doing are in the city, so I’m going to round it up to £95 to account for congestion.
  • Total running cost = £251.64

Gym equivalent

  • Total cost – £91.50

Grand totals!

  • Public transport (£153) + gym (£91.50) – expenditure (£21.00) = £223.50 savings
  • Car (£251.64) + gym (£91.50) – expenditure (£21.00) = £322.14 savings

Year to date totals

  • Bike vs Public Transport – £528.50 in pocket
  • Bike vs Car – £653.77 in pocket

To the end of August I am up over £650 on the car. That is definitely not to be sniffed at, especially with four months to go. The summer period was always going to give numbers a boost because of the better weather, longer days and any excuse to get on the saddle. I’m starting to wonder if I might hit £1k savings by the end of the year?

With £650 in pocket, I could buy an old banger of a car to wipe out my gains from cycling, pay half of my yearly council tax bill OR buy the EBC Revolution tourer for £550 and have £100 left over to buy a nice wee lightweight tent and a couple of nights’ campsite pitch fees…

revolution-country-traveller-15

Hmmm… 😉

 

The Great Edinburgh Bike Experiment – March, April and May

I’m a bit behind with my Great Edinburgh Bike Experiment. The stress of the house move got in the way of regular updates and I’ve only now looked at all my data.  This is cool in hindsight, because any savings and my mileage will look more impressive…

The bike numbers from the last three months

  • Total journeys: 103
  • Total distance: 490 miles
  • Total calories: 16,102 kcal
  • Total climb: 15,644 feet

This means I cycled to the top of Mount Churchill (a badass volcano in Alaska) while commuting to work, grabbing bottles of milk and undertaking other quaxing activities.

mount churchill

Credit to Game McGimsey and the Alaska Volcano Observatory / U.S. Geological Survey for showing you where I cycled to the top of in the last three months.

I’m not gonna brag or anything, but as mountain climbing goes, I’m not too disappointed with that ascent. I also managed about 6 feet of descent. So I’ll need to get wheeling down it again over the next few months…

Bike expenditure in last three months

  • I heard a weird squeak on the hybrid, so the bike shop guys gave it a wee service. £10 down.
  • £47 – Bus fares in total. Dumb knees! These fares also included journeys I wouldn’t have taken by bike anyway, but let’s just leave it at that to make things easier…
  • Total = £57.00

Public transport equivalent

  • I substituted £162 worth of bus fares in March, April and May. So the £51 Ridacard would have been marginally more economical.
  • Ridacard cost = £153

Car equivalent

  • Monthly car running cost – £39.16
  • Petrol cost for 490 miles – £47.83. Now, the journeys I’ve been doing are in the city, so I’m going to round it up to £55 to account for congestion. I think that’s being generous.
  • Total running cost = £165.31

Gym equivalent

  • Total cost – £91.50

Grand totals!

  • Public transport (£153) + gym (£91.50) – expenditure (£57.00) = £187.50 savings
  • Car (£165.31) + gym (£91.50) – expenditure (£57.00) = £199.81 savings

Year to date totals

  • Bike vs Public Transport – £305 in pocket
  • Bike vs Car – £331.63 in pocket

The first five months of the year have me up just over £330 on the car. Maybe by the end of 2015 I will be almost £800 better off in my highly unscientific experiment. I am being let down by my knees, which are eating into my costs via bus fares…

So far, I could buy a nice new telly with my savings, go on a last minute week-long holiday, eat 44kg of Dairy Milk (it’s 2 for £3 in Tesco) OR buy this Charge Plug…

Charge-Plug-0-2015-Single-Speed-Bikes-Silver-BYCHM5PLUG0XSSLV

Decisions, decisions… 😉

 

The Great 2015 Edinburgh Bike Experiment – February Edition

For those that haven’t read about the Great 2015 Edinburgh Bike Experiment, my plan this year is to calculate how much money (if any) I have saved by running a bike instead of relying on public transport or the car. The rules are pretty unscientific and shoogly, but why should proper science get in the way of fun, eh?

So what happened in February?

Last month was typically wintery and horrible, with plenty biting wind, rain and frost to keep even the most hardy cyclist on their overshod toes. I’d love to say I was planted in the saddle for the full 28 days, but unfortunately the knees are still causing havoc so I took the decision to take two working weeks’ off the trusty steed.

Much to my annoyance, the cycling break has done less than zero to improve the joints. They are just as irritated as I am. Every £1.50 in the maw of Lothian Buses has complemented my knee pain and each watery sneeze, sniffle and cough has reminded me of how sharing space with strangers is decidedly unfun. I’d take rain and a headwind any day. So figures this month take a big bite due to public transport use.

The bike numbers

Due to around ten days off the bike, the numbers are a bit slim. Saying that, I still did a reasonable whack so all is not lost.

  • Total journeys: 37
  • Total distance: 168 miles
  • Average speed: 9.4 mph
  • Total calories: 6,140 kcal
  • Total climb: 5,959 feet

I even did a little pie chart so you can see my journey type breakdown:

image

I think it’s interesting to see that so little of my bike use is leisure-oriented at the moment. From a fitness perspective, this breakdown shows just how easy it is to stay fit by choosing the take the bike over other transport modes. Leisure cycling, for me at least, is quite a time-intensive way to stay fit.

Bike expenditure 

  • No bike maintenance costs this month.
  • £24 – Bus fares, due to stupid knees
  • Total = £24.00

Public transport equivalent

  • I substituted £61.60 worth of bus fares this month with the bike. (My bike commutes are often two-bus trips.) So the £51 Ridacard would have been more economical.
  • Ridacard cost = £51

Car equivalent

  • Monthly car running cost – £39.16
  • Petrol cost for 168 miles – £15.12. Now, the journeys I’ve been doing are in the city, so I’m going to round it up to £18 to account for congestion.
  • Total running cost = £57.16

Gym equivalent

  • Total cost – £30.50

Grand totals!

  • Public transport (£51) + gym (£30.50) – expenditure (£24.00) = £57.50 savings
  • Car (£57.16) + gym (£30.50) – expenditure (£24.00) = £63.66 savings

That’s not too bad, actually. I was expecting a lot worse.

Year to date totals

  • Bike vs Public Transport – £117.50 in pocket
  • Bike vs Car – £131.82 in pocket

Nice!

Next month I’m going to try and make this all a bit clearer, maybe with some tables or better graphics to display the info more visually… Happy pedalling until March, folks!

 

The 2015 Edinburgh bike experiment – January edition

I am a self-confessed data geek. With this mild obsession in mind, I decided to embark on a wee 2015 project. I want to record my bike movements so I can see how much physical activity I do, how many miles I cover and the spondoolacks I have potentially saved in comparison to running a car or using public transport full time.

Maybe this little project will encourage more people to cycle. It could help to show the bike as a perfectly viable alternative to cars for getting around Edinburgh for folk with similar lifestyles to me. Hopefully it will be interesting. Who knows?

I am sure plenty of people have done things like this, but they are not me 😉 I am an adequately fit, young-ish woman (but by no means above average fitness-wise), with a very Edinburgh-centric lifestyle. I work, go to lots of places and do lots of things in the city. My average cycle speed is about 10-12 mph. It’s all very relaxed and accessible. So let’s see how we get on!

How it’s going to work

The cycling bit

Recording my activity on the bike is straightforward. I use Strava. You can follow me on it if you like. It is a geolocation service that tracks my miles, elevation, estimated calories and various other bits and pieces. Every time I use the bike, I just turn Strava on and it does all the work for me.

Comparing and contrasting for public transport

Because I record all my cycling activity, I can easily tell by the route if I would have used the bus instead. At the end of the month I tot up how many cycle journeys substituted a bus fare. Easy. If this is higher than the cost of a Lothian Buses Ridacard, I will substitute the Ridacard costs instead of individual fares.

  • A four-weekly Ridacard costs £51. It’s how I used to buy my Ridacard, rather than DD or annual pass. So that’s what I’ll be comparing.

Comparing and contrasting for the car

This is a wee bit more tricky. I’ve averaged out the cost of running a small car for VED, MOT and insurance. I’ve gone for a 2008 1.2l Ford Fiesta – it’s the kind of car I’d have if I decided to buy one. I’ve then used a petrol price checking website to figure out an estimation of the petrol I would have used instead of the cycling miles.

Broom broom, I'm in my imaginary car

Broom broom, I’m in my imaginary car

With my imaginary 2008 Ford Fiesta 1.25 Zetec Blue 3d car, I’ve come up with this monthly breakdown:

  • MOT – £4.58, based on an annual cost of £55
  • VED – £12.08, based on an annual cost of £145
  • Insurance – £22.50 based on an annual cost of £270

That’s a monthly running cost of of £39.16. Petrol goes on top.

For the sake of simplicity, my car will run perfectly for the entire year.

I’ve not factored in the initial £5,000 cost of the car – let’s just say I’ve owned my imaginary motor for a while. As I’ve paid off my £350 bike I will give the car and the bike an even playing field. Just for info, if I was paying the car off with a loan over three years it would be an additional £150 a month. My mind boggles when I think that I’d be paying £189.19 per month before starting the ignition.

All that fitness stuff

I use the bike to keep fit. Sans cycling, I’d have a monthly gym membership at Edinburgh Leisure. So let’s factor that cost into the equation also. A monthly card for classes only comes in at £30.50.

What about expenditure?

I will record any outgoing costs over the month that relate to the bike and any other public transport journeys if cycling is not an option (usually due to extreme weather).

Holes in the argument

I appreciate that this is not scientific. It’s more just for my own curiosity. Some of this will be estimation, but it should give a flavour of what happens when you ride a bike as transport for an entire year. I’m excited! So, let’s get the ball rolling for January…

The January Numbers

I would like to point out that January 2015 has had some really crappy weather. I still did 204 miles on the bike and burnt an estimated 7,300 kcal, the equivalent of 3 1/2 days’ eating or 5 MacSween haggis’ (haggi?).

I cycled away five of these bad boys this month. Via Zoonabar.

I cycled away five of these bad boys this month. Via Zoonabar.

Here is the month’s numbers crunched and presented:

Bike expenditure 

  • £6 – Brake pads
  • £15.50 – Bus fares, due to horrific weather affecting my commute
  • Total = £21.50

Public transport equivalent

  • Bus journeys substituted – 42 (this is the equivalent ticket cost of £63, so the Ridacard is more economical)
  • Ridacard cost = £51

Car equivalent

  • Monthly car running cost – £39.16
  • Petrol cost for 204 miles – £18.20. Now, the journeys I’ve been doing are in the city, so I’m going to round it up to £20 to account for congestion.
  • Total running cost = £59.16

Gym equivalent

  • Total cost – £30.50

Grand totals!

  • Public transport (£51) + gym (£30.50) – expenditure (£21.50) = £60 savings
  • Car (£59.16) + gym (£30.50) – expenditure (£21.50) = £68.16 savings

So January, the crappest month of the year has come out with a £60 margin. That’s better than a slap in the face.

Oh, there is one other thing…

I just bought a road bike. That cost doesn’t factor into this project. I didn’t need to buy it. It was an extravagance. I am only looking at the like for like expenditure of my trusty hybrid, which is the bike I do all my Edinburgh utility and commute riding on 🙂

Stay tuned for February

In which I promise the post will be a much shorter (and hopefully clearer) now that the ground rules have been laid!

If you spot any inconsistencies or I’ve missed anything out, forgotten or otherwise ballsed anything up, PLEASE let me know in the comments.