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The true cost of automotive freedom: 3 hours /day, 15 hours/week, 750 hours/year

Posted May 10 2011 12:59pm

Numbers to think about this Bike Month

One universal theme of ads that sell cars is freedom. You have the freedom of the open road and the freedom to go anywhere you want when you want. Mobility equals freedom so the thought process goes. But if you are chained to a cubicle and have to put up with horrible commutes to afford this vehicle, how free are you really?

The Urban County recently noted that with the current cost of automobile ownership pushing $10,000/year , the average American worker now has to work 2 hours/day just to have access to this freedom vehicle. Add to that an average American work commute of around 30 minutes each way , and you end up with 3 hours /day, 15 hours/week, 750 hours/year dedicated to keeping and maintaining a single automobile. To put that in other units, that’s almost 21 days each year.

So what could you do with those hours? Spend time with your family and friends? Learn to play the guitar or paint? Write that novel you’ve been thinking about? Just lounge in the park instead of working? The American economy is supposed to make our lives better and give us more leisure time. Instead, our car dependent communities chain us to the high cost of owning a car (not to mention the vast majority of all this money leaves our local economy.)

There is an alternative: the bicycle. It costs a fraction of the car, costs little to maintain, requires no insurance, and makes you healthier. You see the city and interact with those around you in a way that is impossible in an automobile. Talk about a freedom vehicle!

“But I live too far away from work for biking to be practical,” you say. If you don’t own a car, you can afford to move closer to work or find a job that might pay less but is a bikeable distance.

Life is short. Don’t spend too much of it servicing a big, polluting, depreciating machine. Ride a bike instead.

Austin Bike Map with Bike to Work Day (Friday, May 21) breakfast stop locations .

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