Car vs. Bike Calculator
By Bogna Haponiuk, Omni
In hundreds of cities all around the globe, people swap their cars for bikes and pedal their way through urban mazes. And for a reason! Once you leave your car in the garage and hop on two wheels, your life is guaranteed to improve. Biking keeps you in shape, decreases the emissions of air pollutants, saves time and frustration when you avoid traffic jams and prevents you from spending your wages on fuel.
You’ve heard all of that before, no doubt. But did you ever wonder what would be the effect of you swapping the car for a bike for, let’s say, five years? How much additional lifespan would you get? How much CO₂ emission would you prevent? How much money would stay in your pocket?
This Car vs. Bike Calculator will answer all of these pressing questions. You won’t have to guess anymore; in just a few seconds, you can determine the effect cycling would have on your life – and convert the hours spent on a bike into trees, or into additional hours of life.
Have fun using the calculator, and remember: bike, don’t drive! ?
Life sucks, and then you bike
We created this calculator for one specific reason: to show you the benefits of switching from a car to a bike for your daily commute. This is why you need to input some information about your daily route and the car that you usually drive. The information we need is:
The distance from your home to work. Remember to measure the distance that is actually driven, including all detours. Input the distance in one direction – our calculator automatically adds the trip back home.
The number of trips per week. For most people, this number will be equal to five. If however, you work six days a week, or if you can work from home once a week, feel free to adjust this value!
Congestion level. By default, our calculator assumes the average speed of a car during rush hour according to the INRIX Global Traffic Scorecard 2016. This report analyzes the effects of traffic congestion in 1064 cities across the globe. If the traffic in your city is much better (or much worse), make sure to select the proper level!
When in doubt, pedal it out
The benefits of swapping your car for a bike depend on your car, too. You need to specify the following features:
Engine type. Do you have petrol or a diesel car? Diesels are usually more expensive and emit more NOₓ, but on the other hand are more fuel efficient and produce fewer CO₂. And make that purring sound that puts kids to sleep. It may not look like it has anything to do with ecology, but it has saved millions of parents’ lives so far!
Production year. Depending on the production year, your car is subject to specific requirements regarding pollutant emissions. Knowing these parameters, we can suggest an approximate level of the CO₂ and NOₓ emissions from your car. If you know the exact specifications, though, feel free to change the emission levels in the advanced mode.
Fuel economy (MPG). How many miles, on average, can you drive on one gallon of fuel? Remember that urban driving is less fuel-efficient that driving on a motorway.
Put the fun between your legs
Now, we’re getting to the most valuable part of this calculator – the benefits of biking! Naturally, we didn’t mention intangible benefits, such as the pure joy of cycling. Still, we’re proud to present a wide selection of bike-related improvements for both your life and your environment.
An increased life expectancy. According to a study “Dutch Cycling: Quantifying the Health and Related Economic Benefits”, every minute you spend on a bike results in an effective increase in your life expectancy of.. one minute. Let’s not get ridiculous here – never getting off the bike won’t mean you’ll live forever, but gaining an additional year or two is worth the ride, isn’t it?
A reduction in CO₂ emissions. That’s right – if you don’t use your car for a few years, you won’t release several tonnes of carbon dioxide into the air. Why is that beneficial for the planet? Most importantly, CO₂ is one of the biggest contributors to the greenhouse effect, which causes global warming. The amount of CO₂ emitted by your car depends on its engine type and production year (source: European Environment Agency Report 2015).
A reduction in NOₓ emissions. Apart from carbon dioxide, your car emits nitrogen oxides that react with water to form acid rains. These chemical compounds also contribute significantly to the formation of smog. In general, cars with diesel engine produce more nitrogen oxides than the ones running on petrol (see the emission standards).
Planted trees equivalent. This benefit is directly related to the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. Every tree can absorb 48 pounds of CO₂ annually. Using our calculator, you can not only calculate your CO₂ emission reduction but also find out how many trees would have to be planted in order to absorb such carbon dioxide emissions.
Time saved. If you regularly get stuck in traffic jams, it might happen that riding a bike will actually be faster than driving! Also, think about all of the frustration you’re going to avoid when leisurely cycling on a bike lane.
Money saved. It’s true that while cars run on money and make you fat, bikes run on fat and save you money! Our calculator takes into account all of the money that you don’t spend on fuel, but you can also include additional car expenses, such as insurance or repairs.
It doesn’t get easier, you just get faster
If you really love our calculator, make sure to open the advanced mode for some extra options! This way, you can adjust the calculations to your situation and get even better results. The additional options include:
Average car speed. Instead of choosing a congestion level, you can enter your average speed while driving through the city.
Biking speed. The default value is set to 15 km/h – according to an analysis conducted in Lyon, this is the average speed of cyclists in the city. This value takes into account the effect of bike trips being shorter than car trips. If, however, you know your average speed on a bike, make sure to adjust this parameter.
CO₂ emissions and NOₓ emissions from your car. Change their values only if you know the exact emission level specified by the car manufacturer – if in doubt, stick to the suggested parameters.
Gas price. You can either use the default value or set the price per one gallon (or one liter) of fuel for your car.
Other car-related expenses. By default set to zero, this value takes into consideration other annual car-related costs, such as insurance. This money can also stay in your pocket – for example, if you decide to give up driving altogether and sell your car.