How I’m Paying for my Bike: Part 1


I recently purchased a new bike from my friend Mary at Boulevard Bikes. After doing a bit of research on my own and asking her tons of annoying questions, I decided that the Bianchi Iseo was the bike for me. Along with a helmet and some additional accessories, my total bill came to roughly $714.00. Not an incredibly expensive bike, but a significant chunk of change to spend in one afternoon nonetheless.

The good news is, biking in the city saves money. The more time I spend on my bike, the more money I save on gas or CTA fare. But I wanted to figure out exactly how much I would save, and more specifically, how long it would take for my purchase pay for itself.

First I checked out the specifics on the gas mileage my car gets. It’s hovering around 18 miles to the gallon in the city. Not good, I know, but it’s an older car so it’s not entirely surprising. Then I checked out this site that determines average gas prices in the city. I’m paying about $4.35 a gallon for premium gas. Again, not a happy number. At these prices, my Bianchi cost me the equivalent of 164.14 gallons of gas, which would get me 2,954 miles in my car.

That sounds like a lot of miles, but when you consider that the average car is driven 15,000 miles a year, it really isn’t much at all. If a person who drives the average amount uses a bike instead of a car for just 20% of their travel, they will pay for a bike like mine within a year. In the city, you also have to factor in the CTA. If you don’t have a monthly pass, this means a $4.50 round trip. By my calculations, any CTA round trip is roughly equivalent to a tank of gas.

I’ve calculated some rough numbers, but I want the facts. I am a lawyer after all. I have already started keeping track, using Ride the City to map out my routes at home before I head out on my bike, and the Map My Ride app to keep track of the total distance I’ve traveled. Each time I choose to ride my bike instead of drive or take the CTA, Ill track it on Map My Ride and either record the miles I would have driven in the car, or credit myself with one CTA ride if I would have taken the CTA instead.

I plan to add up my totals each month to see how much I’ve saved. Maybe I’ll even make a fancy chart. Stay tuned for updates!