Need for Speed

Yeah, everybody knows traffic is bad. But sometimes it’s outright embarrassing.

 

Need for Speed

 

Especially if you spent $60-90K on your car with the promise of speed, agility, and driver engagement. And have this taunting you the whole traffic jam.

 

Need for Speed

 

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25 Responses to “Need for Speed”

  • <3 Great reason to ride your bike everywhere!

  • Think how much happier we’d all be if people got actual jaguars instead of fancy sports cars..
    My anecdata is that the drivers of really fancy cars (like Jaguars or ferarris) are more civil drivers than the drivers of one tier down luxury cars like Mercedes and BMW. Something about compensation maybe.

    • Lonnie L. Jones

      The worst drivers are the ones in the diesel pick-ups.

    • Donald

      Maybe that is because when their cars cost as much as a house, they are a lot more concerned about dents and scratches.

    • Alexander Torres

      Too true. They are all weasels, though.

  • Alan (Uncle Robot)

    Best is passing the Hummer & Cadillac Escalada drivers as they sit high on their thrones and watch me speed away

  • Moopheus

    Who knows? Maybe that guy has a Pinarello in the garage at home he’s afraid to ride in traffic.

  • Ethan Fleming

    This is so true. I also notice drivers get upset when they can not go the speed they want to (or the speed the commercial say they can) because of traffic. Although when Im on a bike passing car after car in a traffic jam it makes me feel wonderful.

  • Daniel Winks

    What most drivers don’t bother to ever account for is the amount of “latent” time spent driving. Sure, the average commute takes 25 minutes to travel 16 miles. So that’s 25 minutes behind the wheel, but driving isn’t free. The average cost, per mile, is around $0.60 (according to AAA and the IRS). So that 16 mile trip costs $9.60. That’s money that needs to be made just to pay for the trip, and as such, that’s time spent working to make that money. That time is effectively time spent solely to pay for getting from point A to point B, so it’s effectively no different than time spent behind the wheel and as such it should be added to the total amount of time needed to get from point A to point B.

    The average wage in the US works out to just over $18 an hour. After taxes, health insurance, etc, the average “take home” wage for someone making $18 an hour would be between $13 and $14 an hour. Let’s use $13.50 as a relatively average take-home wage. In order to make the $9.60 needed to travel the 16 miles to or from work, one needs to work for 0.71 hours, or about 43 minutes.

    So we’ve got 25 minutes for the 16 mile commute from direct “behind the wheel” time, and another 43 minutes for the commute as “behind the desk” time, but both are required in order to cover that 16 miles via car. That works out to a total of 68 minutes to travel 16 miles, or just a hair over 14 MPH (14.12 to be exact). So the average driver making the average wage driving the average car on an average distance commute in this country (USA) is getting to and from work at just barely over 14 MPH. This is pretty close to the speed a relatively fit bicycle commuter travels.

    Now for the super pathetic part of driving. Driving isn’t exercise, I’m sure we can all agree on that point. I’m sure we can also all agree that bicycling is exercise. Now how much exercise one should get each week is debatable, but the Mayo clinic and CDC both suggest 150 minutes per week. That works out to 30 minute per day, 5 days a week. Now since bicycling is exercise and we’ve exceeded 30 minute already, the cyclist is already done with their recommended amount of exercise just from commuting. The driver, on the other hand, still has 30 minutes a day to complete. Since the choice of driving compared to cycling has created a deficit of 30 minutes, 5 times a week of time the driver needs to make up, we can simply add that to their total ‘commuting’ time. This is fair and reasonable since the cyclist’s ‘commuting’ time also includes 30 minutes a day of exercise.

    So let’s add 15 minutes to the driver’s commute, since the average 16 mile commute is only for one way, and most people drive both to and from work each day, so 15 minutes added in the morning commute and 15 minute to the evening would add the recommend 30 minutes a day spent exercising. Now we have 25 minutes directly behind the wheel, 43 minutes behind the desk to pay for driving and another 15 minutes spent exercising. This works out to a total investment of 83 minutes on the part of the average driver for their daily 16 mile commute, each way. 16 miles covered in 83 total invested minutes works out to a “true average” of just 11.57 MPH. or a mile an hour or two slower than a fit bicycle commuter, and about the same as a fairly relaxed ride for an average commuter.

    All factors considered, it’s less total time out of one’s day to travel 16 miles to work and 16 more miles home via bike than car. If one has a job that has flexible hours, they works out of a few hours less per week they need to work (driving 32 miles, 5 days a week takes a total of 13.84 hours, biking takes 11.42, assuming the cyclist maintains a 14 MPH average, which is not all that fast). If one has a job like mine, that requires exactly 40 hours per week, no more, no less, ever, then that it works out to being able to retire sooner, between 10 and 30! years sooner. At an investment return rate of 5% after inflation, an median income of about $32,140, an average car cost of $8,946 (AAA figures), and a savings investment of 10% of gross income, and assuming a “safe withdrawal rate” of 4%, the years to retirement for an average worker would be 51 working years.

    Now $32,140 gross works out to an average of $26,394 take home, out of which the average person is paying $8,946 for their “sedan average” yearly cost. This works out to 33.9% of their yearly take-home income. Sure, some people may pay less, but others must pay more, so we’re just going with the average or median numbers based on reliable sources. If one then bikes instead of drives, doesn’t buy a car at all and incurs $0 of vehicle expenses, and instead replaces it with ‘expensive’ bikes which cost $700 a year, which is a LOT for bikes, yearly at least. That’s 31.2% more take-home money that can be used for other things, or 25.7% of gross income. If that 25% is invested into retirement instead of spent, using the same 5% return after inflation, 4% “safe withdrawal” rate, a total investment of 35% of one’s yearly income instead of 10% lets one retire after 25 years instead of 51!”

    I don’t know about you, but being able to get to and from work with LESS total time invested AND retire 26 years earlier sounds like plenty enough reason for me to bike rather than drive!

    • Daniel Winks

      tl;dr version:
      Driving = 11.5 MPH and retire after 51 years
      Biking = 12+ MPH (depending on fitness) and retire after 25 years

    • CPTJohnC

      While your math is probably impeccable, I think you overstate your case, insofar as most people use/need their cars for things other than commuting, so the sunk costs are paid whether or not they commute, and commuting by car actually amortizes those sunk costs over a greater use spread making the perceived benefit of the car greater. I’m not saying this negates what you’re saying, but it probably significantly alters the applicability and cost structure for most people, to the point that the remaining difference isn’t really that interesting in terms of financial benefit.

      Many of us don’t really have the practical option of going truly ‘car free’, and the benefits of ‘car light’ are not nearly as great, financially. Now, if car sharing became a truly practical option outside of major urban areas, I’d be ready to ditch one (or more) of my cars in a heartbeat! I could car share quite successfully in the city, but living in the suburbs renders it impractical.

      PS: where did you get the 16 miles/25 minute average? Just curious, since you cited your sources for most of your numbers :-) For reference, my car commute would be/is just over your 16 miles at 19, so 38 round trip, which involves 80-90 minutes of drive time (it is split unequally, with the drive home taking about 10 minutes longer). Biking takes ~185 minutes round trip (again not quite an equal split).

    • Daniel, that is probably the best dissection of the financial benefits of cycling that I have ever read. Thank you.

  • Remember – Jaguar is (sorta) a British car. So that 90mph label should be spelled as “arsehole speed”.

    Just sayin’. Don’t shoot the messenger, etc.

  • Kevin Love

    Yes, car drivers really travel slowly. So much money, going nowhere, and poisoning children with its lethal pollution. Not very smart!

    And not just in Boston. Here is a rather hilarious newspaper article about Toronto car drivers not going anywhere.

    http://www.torontosun.com/news/torontoandgta/2010/01/09/12401501-sun.html

  • Zack

    Bike messenger speed is probably closer to 30mph ;)

    • Johnluxom

      No it isn’t. We’re talking about an “Average” speed, not their top speed. A good bike messenger will average a 20mph speed assuming there aren’t a lot of hills to skew that number up or down. I’ve ridden alley cats in New York, L.A., Chicago, and Japan. I’m an “Above Average” rider with an average of about 22mph. There are only a handful of guys faster than me that I can name, but there are TONS that aren’t as fast.
      I along with lots of those guys can sprint to 30-40mph on smooth flat ground, but that is NOT our average. (Just for reference the fastest i’ve ever gone was down a 26% grade, and I hit 54mph)

  • MT Cyclist

    The other night while riding my bike I fell in behind a rather large person who was piloting a small motorcycle that was in dire need of a tuneup. I put up with the blue cloud of exhaust for a half block or so, expecting him to pick up some speed at any moment. But that tortured contraption just kept coughing and spewing smoke. Finally I’d had enough, so I flipped on the afterburners and whipped around him, leaving him to breathe his own cloud of exhaust.

  • John

    that feeling you get when riding through a traffic jam and on of those radar speed detectors is on the side of the road and says youre exceeding the limit is the best

  • Steve

    For the most part, most common production cars will not reach “get your money worths speed”.

  • Heather

    The only point of having a higher end sports car is if you live in the country, or use it for road trips or day trips far and away. All the prowess is pointless for city driving. I had a bmw, it was old and not in great shape, but what a car! However, to try drive it in city traffic was a nightmare, it just couldn’t perform.
    In the Vancouver area, there have been gangs of rich people in porches speeding dangerously up and down wild coastal highways for fun. Because they are rich, they just pay the fines. This is happening everywhere. I live in a rural area, so once outside the gridlock of town, it’s open season for speeding. Car commercials promise that you will speed up and down mountain vistas, the only car on the road. And yet, traffic is usually busy, so you can’t go that fast. It still seems to take a long time to drive into town, cycling is not actually that much longer!

  • Hey i love your drawings and i want to print some of your drawings on white T-Shirts

    • bikeyface

      I’m glad you enjoy the blog, but you do not have permission to use or print my artwork. Thanks.

  • nadar

    My best experience in passing a jam was last November as cars lined up for kilometers on ice covered roads. I rode my bicycle (with studded tires) along the empty opposite lane and felt awesome! ;)

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