Maybe this is a little politically incorrect of me, this being a cycling Blog and all, but I cannot fail but to be impressed by the internal combustion engine. I mean really think about it, I have on more than a few occasions, as I have been sweating and puffing my way up some steep hill, thought about the fact that I could be reclined in a nice comfortable leather seat – the sound system wafting music set at the right level into my ear and with a little extra pressure from my right foot I will bound up to the top of the hill at 50 mph without a by your leave. Really it is a marvel of modern engineering that my 2 tons of cars can fly up the same hill as I am working so hard to get up on my carbon fibre bike. You may not like the car but you cannot fail but be impressed at how brilliant the engineering is. Two tons of car me and 50 mph – all for ¼ a cup of fuel, and this is before we get into all the safety factors, air bags, crumple zones etc. Sometimes I really wonder why I push myself up that hill when 3 pence of fuel (even at current prices) could do it for me.
Ah what about the cost? Well for sure I seem to be paying a hell of a lot more on my bike right now than my car, also my car doesn’t need me to buy a separate wardrobe to drive it. The fact of the matter is I need a car- I have journeys to do that public transport is never going to be a suitable option to use. 95% though of my journeys are now either by public transport or by bike, but nevertheless I need a car for certain journeys so the fixed cost of tax, insurance and purchasing are always going to be there and these journeys are too many to make the use of a taxi a viable option. When you remove these fixed costs, I would estimate that currently my car and bike cost me about the same mile for mile, that said the price of the bike will drop over time as I will gradually build up a sufficient inventory of what I need. So when looking at the costs in such a way and bearing in mind the a car is such a much easier way to get around in – what exactly is the reason for owning a bike? Now please bear in mind the above calculations are based on my needs i.e. I don’t live in central London so I have less public transport available and it is free for me to park my car in my garage, I also have a family and there are 28 miles done a day as a minimum getting the kids to school.
But let’s get back to the question, why own a bike? Well the main reason for me was exercise, keeping my weight down and just being mobile again. Then there is the costs I save riding into work. If I were to use the bike every day of the week I would save £33 on train fares, the per mile cost of the bike is minimal, bit of tyre and break wear and a mile closer to a service, so if I was to estimate that I would guess a highest figure of £3 a week.
Do you know what though, just forget all of the above about costs etc. There is no rational thinking, the truth of the matter is, as you zip along that road past all the stuck traffic, feel the wind in your face, the total freedom and above all the feeling of being alive – you know that when you love something – money just doesn’t come into it.