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The calculator that works out what you could save by swapping the car for the bike

Joe Robinson
19 Apr 2018

Learn how much money you could save and 10 reasons why riding a bike is better than driving a car

The benefits of swapping your car for a bike to get to work are pretty comprehensive. Not just the personal benefits of improved health and more time and money but also the environmental benefits and reduced wear and tear to road surfaces.

But for anyone needing a bit more convincing, a newly launched online calculator can quantify just how much money you stand to save across the board by making the switch from your car to your bike.

The bike vs car Omni Calculator, launched to coincide with Earth Day this Sunday, asks you to put in some basic information about your daily commute, then gives you a single total of how much money riding to work will save you over a specific period.

The details needed includes your specific distance to drive to work, not just as the crow flies, the frequency in which you commute and the approximate congestion level you endure. 

You then just need to specify the engine type of your car and production year and the car's typical fuel economy. Put in an amount of time you want it the figures for, and it will calculate the benefits.

For example, if I was to swap driving a 2010 plate petrol car at 65mpg at 31km each way, five days a week in rush hour for the next ten years for the bike apparently I would add 449 days to my life expectancy, save 449 hours of travel and be £8,435.50 better off, just enough for a new top-end bike.

If the nifty calculator was not enough of a persuasive argument on its own, Omni Calculator creator Bogna Haponiuk has also compiled a list of 10 reasons as to why you should make the switch, supporting his claims with cold hard facts. 

Here are those 10 reasons:

1. Bikes are the most energy efficient form of transportation. You can move five times faster than walking and go three times as far on the same amount of calories. Cars use 50 to 80 times more energy than a bike to travel the same distance (source).

2. Bikes require fewer raw materials to manufacture than cars. Building a bike takes only 5% of the materials and energy required to produce a car (statistics by People for Bikes, a cycling advocacy organisation, source).

3. Bikes reduce the demand for new roads, parking lots, that paving the earth with asphalt and concrete. 12 bikes take the same amount of space as a single car.  There are 800 million car parking spaces in the U.S., totalling 160 billion square feet of concrete and asphalt (source).

4. Bikes save rainforests. Far less rubber is involved in making bikes than cars.  The rising need for rubber is one of the main causes of deforestation - plantations need space. The tire industry consumes 70% of all natural rubber grown, and rising demand for vehicle and airplane tires is behind the recent expansion of plantations (source).

5. Bikes reduce air pollution Bicycle production and maintenance accounts for 5 grams CO₂ per km and car production and maintenance accounts for 42 grams CO₂ per km. Using our calculator you can calculate also a tree-planting equivalence.

This benefit is directly related to the reduction in CO₂. Every tree can absorb 48 pounds of CO₂ annually (source). Using our calculator, you can not only calculate your emission reduction at CO₂ but also find out how many trees would have to be planted in order to absorb such carbon dioxide emissions (source).

6. Bikes reduce noise pollution. Fewer cars also mean less noise. A Canadian study found people living in Toronto in the noisiest areas for vehicle noise suffered 22% more deaths from heart disease than those in the quietest areas (source).

7. Bikes reduce time spent in traffic. Each auto-commuter in the U.S. spends an average of 41 hours a year in traffic during peak hours (source). According to French study, bikes are up to 50% faster than cars during rush hour. Also, bicycles do not contribute to traffic jams as much as cars (source).

8. Bikes help us live longer. Cycling improves your well-being: promotes weight loss, builds muscle and strengthens your immune system (source).

According to a study "Dutch Cycling: Quantifying the Health and Related Economic Benefits” every minute you spend on a bike results in an effective increase in your life expectancy of… one minute. It means that if you never got off a bike, your life expectancy would double.

9. Bikes save lives. According to British Cycling Report, if cycle use in UK increases from less than 2% (current levels) to 25% up to Danish level, it could reduce road deaths by 30% (source).

10. Bikes save money. According to me, 100% of the population wouldn’t mind having a bit more money. No source needed, you know it’s true.

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