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Can an Electric Bike Save Me Money? The Gas Prices Are Too D*** High!

Has anyone else noticed that gas prices have gone up recently? I thought I was losing my mind because out here in Los Angeles, I've seen gas prices as high as $7 a gallon. In fact, I was just filling up my tank with craft beers because I think that might have been a cheaper option. If you are a sentient being on planet earth right now, I would imagine you've had some thoughts about the rising gas prices. 

Is There a Better Way to Commute?

I just remembered, "Hey. I work in an electric bike shop. Didn't I used to commute by electric bike quite a bit back in the day, or was it all a dream?" And then I remembered, “nope. It was real. It was very real for me. I used to commute.” So I decided to go back to my roots and start commuting by electric bike for a week to see how much money I save on gas. Then I broke out the old TI-83 calculator to see how much money I saved for the week.

How Did My Week of eBike Commuting Go?

What a week that was. So I would guess this represents pretty much an average week of travel for me. Sometimes I go a little bit further, sometimes I go a little bit less. But we are looking at a total mileage this week of 206.

  • I really tried to say yes to everything and not skip things just because it was gonna take me a little bit longer because I was cycling.
  • I rode the Gazelle Ultimate T10+ so I could get some class 3 speeds and get where I'm going a little bit quicker.
  • Over the course of the week, I rode to and from work, to a concert, to the grocery store, and all the way out to Verdugo to shoot a video.
  • Now that might seem like a lot of cycling for one week, and, honestly, it kind of was. But if you expand that out to a full year, it is actually still significantly less than the average national mileage per year. So to estimate how much money I saved by cycling everywhere for a week, we are going to use the national average miles per gallon.

What’s the Cost Savings on eBike Commuting?

Now there seems to be a bit of discrepancy depending on the sources I was looking at of what this national average is, but I did find it was pretty much anywhere from 18-25 miles per gallon.

  • We're gonna go on the lower side of that because most of the travel I do within Los Angeles is city miles. Even when I'm on the freeway, I'm going pretty slow.
  • To keep things nice and even we're gonna go with 20 miles. So 206 miles divided by 20 is 10.3 gallons of gasoline that I saved by biking.
  • Believe it or not, this week the average price of gasoline in Los Angeles was $5.94. (Ouch!) So 10.3 times $5.94 is $61.18. It feels pretty good to have an extra $60 bucks in my pocket!
  • On a one-week basis that might not sound like too much money to you, but let’s extrapolate out an entire year. If I were to completely get rid of my car and commute by bike full time, I could save $3,181 every year.

What if I Don’t Live in Los Angeles and Gas is Cheaper?

But you might be thinking, “I don’t live in the fine city of Los Angeles aka city of $7 per gallon gas prices and gridlocked traffic.” Hey! We have palm trees too! But, fair. Let’s look at the national numbers.

  • The average national gas price right now is $4.50 per gallon. (Still ouch!) So $4.40 times 10.3 gets us $45.42. Not bad at all!
  • Multiply that out to a full year of e-bike-only commuting and you’d be looking at $2,356. That, to me, is a pretty convincing number.

Is eCommuting on a Bike Worth It?

Whether or not you live in LA, the amount of money saved is almost enough to buy a brand new commuting electric bike every year.

  • And that doesn't even take into account expenses like wear and tear on your car, potential reductions in insurance price for reduced mileage, tolls, parking costs, and other expenses associated with driving your car on a daily basis.
  • But the reason I like looking specifically at gas prices alone is that it still leaves you open to owning a car, but just substituting it with an eBike commute a couple of days a week, maybe every day, and keeping the car for longer journeys on the weekends.
  • I think that's probably the more realistic option for most people. Not everybody wants to completely get rid of their car and substitute an electric bike for all travel, and not everybody can.
  • So if you are one of these people who doesn't think they can totally get rid of their car, it's pretty clear that even when you just look at gas prices you are going to save a lot of money by commuting on an electric bike!
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