The Cost Of Commuting By Bike Versus Car

Cyclist riding in sunset
Bike or car?

Whether you’re new to it or an old hand, the benefits of cycling to work cannot be overstated, hence why there has been such a boom. It’s not just health benefits either – the main reason for this new crop of riders – there are many economic and environmental benefits to be enjoyed by ditching your petrol guzzling car for a two-wheeled friend. You never know where commuting may take you, in fact in our recent conversation with Chris Hall, we found out that his cycling adventure began when he took up commuting by bike.

But what are the true costs of going to work on a bike versus in a car? The costs of commuting can be measured in a few metrics, but we are going to focus on the economic and environmental costs, physical and mental health, and then look at how riding a bike will influence all these. Bike versus car? We know the answer but here’s the working.


Economic costs

Cost of commuting by bike vs car vs train
Which mode of transport is the most cost effective?

Let’s start at the most obvious cost: money. Petrol prices aren’t getting any cheaper (we know they can fluctuate, don’t @ us), so the likelihood is, over time you are burning an ever-growing hole in your pocket. There is of course an upfront cost to cycle commuting; purchasing a bike (chances are, much less than the cost of a car), getting the gear you need, investing in a lock, taking out insurance, but the short term cost leads to long-term benefits versus the death by a thousand pennies that fuel costs deal to your wallet each year. In fact, whether it’s fuel or season tickets, paying for your commute is one of the biggest expenses we have.

There are many ways of finding out the numbers behind the various types of commuting. Cycle scheme have compiled a neat little resource on how much you can save and the Omni calculator allows you to put in specifics to see how your car and bike match up. New research from OnePoll for Argos found that cycling to work saves commuters nearly £1,400 a year making it the cheapest, most practical way to commute versus driving. Compare that to a 2015 study conducted in Copenhagen, which summarises that it’s six times more expensive for you to drive to work instead of cycling, and the advantage is clear.

Economic cost of commuting by car vs bike
Bike is best!

Environmental costs

Cyclist riding in the forest
Cycling is far more environmentally friendly (Credit: Nielsen Cerbolles | Close Enough Photos)

That leads us nicely on to the environmental costs, which at this point are very well documented. Cars are bad for the environment; it really is a no-brainer. Cars give off CO2 emissions, a rider on a bike doesn’t, therefore more cars equal more emission and the inverse for more cycle commuters. It’s a tale as old as time but some people still need reminding.

The Omni calculator factors these environmental concerns into their calculations and provide you with your emission stats in terms of the equivalent number of trees you would have planted. Interestingly, in that 2015 Danish study mentioned earlier, the researchers also summarised that driving a car to work is six times more expensive to your community because of the associated health issues brought on by air and noise pollution, congestion and climate change. Not only that but another study, conducted by the University of Leeds in 2018, showed that you are at bigger risk from harmful emissions sitting in your car than you are cycling through traffic.

Physical health costs

Cyclist racing on track bike
Cycling has many health benefits (Credit: Nielsen Cerbolles | Close Enough Photos)

We are more aware than ever about the long-term risks of air pollution and how continued exposure damages our bodies, leaving us more at more risk to respiratory diseases. Yes, you might feel more relaxed, less sweaty, safer and often much warmer when you drive to work, but these very small yet gratifying benefits are vastly outnumbered when it comes to the long-term costs. These include increased blood pressure and muscle problems from sitting for long periods of time (recurring back pain, nerve and tendon issues) and an overall less health conscious outlook. It’s not just physical health that is impacted either.

Mental health costs

Women cyclist riding on track bike
Cycling will make healthier and happier (Credit: Nielsen Cerbolles/ Close Enough Photos)

As well as living in a more environmentally conscious society, we also now have a much better understanding of why mental health is at least as important as physical health. There are few things more annoying than sitting in traffic and constantly checking your watch to make sure you’re not late. Bad moods, stress and higher levels of anxiety can all be caused by a stressful commute. That, coupled with the daily grind behind the wheel, can lead to decreased productivity, poor cognitive functioning and depression. All this while you sit there in your metal box, watching cyclist after cyclist pedal happily on by…

Ditch the car, commute by bike

Women cyclists riding in London
It's a no brainer - commuting by bicycle is the way to go (Credit: Nielsen Cerbolles | Close Enough Photos)

There is an answer to all these issues: commute by bike – the benefits of riding to work are endless. Building on what we’ve covered so far, here are some of the biggest reasons to commute by bike:

· Save thousands of pounds a year on fuel costs, parking and maintenance

· Minimise your carbon footprint

· Bypass traffic and look cool while you’re doing it

· Commuting by bike provides a more predictable journey and adds structure to your day

· A more active brain leads to increased productivity at work

· Live longer with a stronger cardiovascular system

· Protect yourself from respiratory issues by building your fitness

· Join the large and ever-growing cycle-commuter community

The list goes on.

Bike versus car – as we said at the outset, there’s only one winner. Now you are armed with the true costs/lack thereof, you can easily justify why cycling is probably the best way to commute. Start your journey with the proper coverage and join not just the cycle commute community but the Pedalsure community too with comprehensive insurance today. Be sure to tell us why you commute by bike over on out Instagram @ridepedalsure.

Need something to secure your bike? You can now get a free gold rated Hiplok DX D-lock worth £69.99 with any new insurance policy, just one of many ways we protect both you and your bike.


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