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‘Buy this car to drive to work. Drive to work to pay for this car.’

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‘Buy this car to drive to work. Drive to work to pay for this car.’

‘Buy this car to drive to work. Drive to work to pay for this car.’

Repost: Written by me, originally published by Bike Shop Hub (now Campfire Cycling)

A recent post on discussed the economics of car commuting as a function of personal time.

James Schwartz at the Urban Country figures car ownership costs the average American about two hours a day – that works out to about 500 hours each year to buy, insure, and maintain a car. Compare with the 20% recommended for transportation costs by financial planners and the 13% the US Bureau of Labor Statistics says Americans spend on transportation (2009 numbers).

The difference between an hour and two hours might seem like a lot – but compare that against the four minutes Schwartz figures we spend to buy and care for a $1500 commuter bicycle.

The most astonishing thing about this information is that, until now, I haven’t found an excuse to post this video from the Canadian band Metric performing their song Handshakes.

The song is basically Schwartz’ research set to music, including this poignant refrain:

Buy this car to drive to work
Drive to work to pay for this car
(Repeat a zillion times)

“Handshakes” by Metric

This music might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the video and lyrics are safe for work – unless you get carried away and start throwing furniture around. Commute by Bike takes no responsibility for the consequences of your head banging.

Photo: Nicholas Lucien (CC BY 2.0)

2 thoughts on ‘Buy this car to drive to work. Drive to work to pay for this car.’


    May 25, 2011Reply

    I wish Paolo Soleri’s “Arcology” idea would catch on.

    I would definitely have my main residence and place of employment there. And my “retreat” would be a place 10 miles down the road out in the middle of the country.

    Imagine how well bike commuting would catch on THEN!


    May 26, 2011Reply

    I thought the numbers for the car seemed off, so I checked. If you are trying to save money you would want to take the small sedan, not the average of the different vehicle classes. So already we bring it down to $6,758. Then we probably don’t want full coverage insurance and only liability. Which I have to estimate is saving perhaps $300-$500/yr. Then, they factor in depreciation, not sure how that relates when you are already paying financing. So with that in mind it would seem you need to add back in the value of the car itself, but I didn’t see that.

    In the end, I did my own calculations for my costs and I spend about $4.4k/year, which is much more expensive than my bike, but not as bad as the average american. This is for my wifes van by the way, not my car which would be much less. Actually the cost does factor in the gas for my car.

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