I claim that even if you don’t “believe” in global warming, you should ditch the car. I’ve reached this conclusion by calculating the effective speed of driving, vs. the effective speed of biking. This argument was initially made by Ivan Illich in the early 70’s, but I put in numbers for 2009 and my own situation. The effective speed is the time it takes you to travel where you want to go + the time it takes you to earn the money needed to afford that mode of transportation. In the case of the bike, we also subtract some time, since it doubles as physical exercise and you really do need about 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day to avoid serious health issues down the road.
These are numbers for Ontario, Canada based on CAA’s annual driving costs model and actual marginal tax rates for 2009.
Assuming a cheap-ass car (the Cobalt LT) and a high annual salary of $100K, you need to drive more than 15 900 km a year for a car to make sense. With my own transportation needs of ~10 000 km (a little less, actually), the cheap car will have an effective speed of a meager 23 km/h, while the bike runs at 31 km / h. Clearly I’m getting around at much higher speeds than those sluggish cars.
But if you make $40K / year and drive a Dodge Grand Caravan (the more expensive vehicle in the CAA example) the same distance, you’re humping along at an abysmal 12.3 km / h.
Feel free to copy my spreadsheet and play with your own numbers. And yeah, ditch the car and take an extra day off every week!
Oppdatering: Om du er interessert i norske forhold, kan du se disse i dette regnearket. En norsk lønnstaker med årlig inntekt på 450000 kr jobber ca. 500 timer årlig for å dekke de årlige utgiftene til en medium bensinbil med nypris 349000 kr. Om den årlige reiselengden er 10000 km, er den effektive hastigheten til bilisten 15,6 km/t. Sykkelen er ca. dobbelt så rask, med effektiv hastighet 30,4 km/t.