Bikes vs Cars

Bikes vs cars, what is the real effect? In hundreds of cities all around the globe, people are beginning to swap their cars for bikes to pedal their way through the urban jungle. Once you leave your car in the garage and get on two wheels, your life is guaranteed to improve. Biking keeps you in shape, doesn’t emit air pollutants, and you saves time and money. Also, you will no longer get frustrated when you are stuck in traffic.

You’ve heard that all 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 longer would you live? How much CO₂ would you not emit? How much money would stay in your bank account?

The calculator here below will answer all of these burning 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 additional hours of life.

How can I get the most out of this calculator?

This calculator was created for one specific reason: to show 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 your 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, the speed of a car during rush hour traffic our calculator uses is the average of the INRIX Global Traffic Scorecard 2016, a report that analyzed 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.

My car is environmentally friendly

The benefits of swapping your car for a bike are also dependent on your car. You need to specify the following features:

  • Engine type. Do you have a 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 less CO₂.
  • Production year. The year your car was produced will affect the specific requirements regarding pollutant emissions that your car is subject to. 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.
Car vs. Bike Calculator

How cycling helps you, and the planet

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.

  1. 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 your bike won’t mean you’ll live forever, but gaining an additional year or two is worth the ride, isn’t it?
  2. 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? 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).
  3. 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, as well as forming ozone at the ground level. Ozone is very reactive, and can damage your eyes and lungs. In general, cars with diesel engines produce more nitrogen oxides than the ones running on petrol (see the emission standards).
  4. 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 the number of trees that would have to be planted to have the same effect.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 like the calculator, make sure to open the advanced mode for some extra options. This way, you can adjust the calculations to suit 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 gallon (or per liter) of fuel for your car.
  • Other car-related expenses. Set to zero by default, 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.

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