Posted by: kendra | May 3, 2008

Bikes, Cars and Money

I sometimes meet people and act like I’m all green and environmentally responsible and whatever, but like I’ve said before, I am just very cheap. I do not like to spend money on things that are not fun, I find it very annoying. It just turns out that a lot of behavior that is motivated by being a tightwad is also good for the environment. My last car was an Oldsmobile that towards the end of my time with it seemed to cost me $1000 every couple of months for some sort of repair or another. I am sure the First Choice Motors guy had to cut back after I gave it up.

If you live in Morristown, it is very easy to get around without a car, and now there are zipcars at the train station, for times you really need one. Here’s my guesstimate on what it will cost you.

Bike: $1000 (Breezer Uptown)

Yes, that seems like a lot of money for a bike if you are a cheapskate like me. Yes, you can build your own or get a cheaper one, but I think this is a good commuter bike, and for people who don’t want to mess around with fixing a bike, it’s totally setup. I do not take care of it at all, and it has lasted 4 years.

Bike Repairs: $150

Flats, tuneups, whatever. I made this a little bit high, because since I don’t take care of it, now I need to get the internal gear hub replaced. If you plan on totally ignoring maintenance on your bike, I’ll stick with this number.

Zipcar: $3000

Zip cars rent for$65/a day or 8.50 /hour. Let’s say you spend 3000 a year on your car, just for gas and insurance. Maybe your insurance is less, but New Jersey is crazy expensive for car insurance. So for $3000, you can rent a zipcar for 352 hours a year, that’s 6 1/2 hours a week, if you go for an hourly thing, like you just need to drive to Route 10 and get the new GTA. Or if you rent it by the day, you could take the zipcar for 46 full days a year. You could use those 46 days to drive to work one day a week and drop off clothes, if you want to change when you get there. (I know 46 weeks is not a year, but I just gave you a European style holiday break).You apparently don’t have to fill it up, or anything.

If you do give up your car, I think you will not spend $3000 on a zipcar. I think I have rented a car to get around to local places about 5 times in 4 years. I’m only including it to make you feel better if you are nervous about giving up your car.

Special Biking Clothes: $0

You can go out and get fancy shoes and padded shorts and whatever, but who cares? If you are using your bike to get around town, you are not going that fast and you are not going to get sweaty. I’m sorry, you just aren’t. Ok, I guess I do have some raingear, but that was about $100, and you could take the zipcar on rainy days, so that’s part of the $3000 for car.

So that’s $4,150, for the first year. After that, the $1000 for the new bike is gone, and it is $3,150/year. If you only get the zipcar a few times, you can get down to much less than $500. I really have no idea what other people spend on their cars, but I cannot stress enough that if you switch to your bike how much cash it frees up. Seriously. I had a little bit of a sketchy credit history, to be honest, but after I got rid of my car, I was able to quickly pay off some old debt, and all my student loans and start my new money collection.

When my Oldsmobile left me, I totally intended to get another car, but just spend the summer on my bike. If you give up your car, and find it annoying, guess what? You can get another one! True fact!

Here’s another person who had a crappy Oldsmobile and traded it for a bike! If you want to trade your car for a bike and not pay anything at all, check out this New Belgium Brewery Tour de Fat.



  1. Here’s another blog post on how not having a car saves money, so it’s true!

    Also note that the money amounts in this post are totally made up guesses.

  2. heh, thanks for linking me 🙂

    i totally agree with this post. i’ve been thinking about signing up for zipcar but it is outrageously expensive in comparison to mass transit and bikes. my husband and i also used to have a car and we were just pumping money into it, while it seemed to only break down more and more. we’ve been so much happier since we sold it and moved to a walkable/bikeable city, i just wish more people could realize that there’s life beyond cars!

  3. Since everyone is out riding their bikes in nyc today or at the tour de montclair and I’m still drinking coffee, I will go ahead and continue using this blog to yammer on about how bikes change things and work through my emotional issues, and instead of starting a new post all about me, I’ll just make a comment here. You’re welcome.

    I am a total messy, a big packrat and really hold on to stuff once I have it. When I had a car, first the geo, and then the oldsmobile, dave always said they had “geo disease” which mean you couldn’t really sit in the back seat because it was packed full of stuff. I am always really flattered when people come over right now and say our place is clean or spare or whatever, because I know I am messy. Ask my parents or one of my old roommates, and they will laugh and tell you what it was like. Altho when they had to live with me, I don’t think that they thought it was that funny.

    Anyhow, we moved last year and had to get rid of about one ton of stuff, via the thrift store and curb alerts. I hung out on Apartment Therapy. But the biggest change is once I started getting around on my bike, it was harder to pick up trash or buy crap I didn’t need (which prolly helps save money on it’s own). If you want to bring something home on your bike, you really really have to want it. I think the only big thing I’ve brought home so far is one eames chair, but I don’t end up with bags of crap from marshalls, or a broken-down clock that I’m never going to fix, and all of that. I remember being in a store one time, and looking at something and saying to the random next to me, “this seems like a good deal, but I think my husband would freak if I bought one more thing home,” and the woman said “hide it in your trunk! that’s what I do!” And I couldn’t because the trunk was full! That is not a healthy way to be.

    Dave would not really freak when I brought things home, so I don’t know why I said that. Prolly some sort of shopping bonding lingo with the ladies.

    Ok! I think I’ve worked out all my issues now, and I’m heading out into the sun! Back to your regularly schedule bike rant!

  4. Everything you have said is totally true!
    Only problem is – I am totally afraid I am going to get run-over! I even saw to BIKE COPS riding on the sidewalk on Morris Ave today!

  5. Yep, whenever I’ve seen bike cops around Morristown, they were riding on the sidewalk. I’ve had coworkers who are casual riders tell me how strange it is to see bike cops on the sidewalk.

    I ride to work 5 days a week and as long as you practice common sense while riding, like staying to the right and ride in a predictable manner, you won’t have any problems.

    Unless you’re just rolling along at only a few miles/hour, its probably a good idea to stay off the sidewalk, you’re probably more likely to hit a pedestrian or get hit at a intersection or driveway.

  6. I saw a bike cop on the sidewalk today too; maybe we should ask if they could sometimes ride in the road? It seems like if they did ride in the road, it would make people slow down and make other people feel like it was safe to ride in the road.

    I do ride on the sidewalk on morris street sometimes, but only coming up it, for some reason riding towards washington headquarters doesn’t bother me, but the riding towards town, section from the traction line to just past the train station does.

  7. This post is pretty popular with people looking for info on first choice motors. I can say if I did have a car that is where I would take it for service. They are very honest, and if I did get another car, which is unlikely, I would go back there without hesitation.

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