Home > Advocacy

Web-based calculator puts the reasons to switch from driving to cycling into hard numbers

How much money would you save? How many years might you add on to your life? By how much would you reduce carbon dioxide emissions?

commuter cycling

Cycling, whether in terms of fitness, the environment, mental health, or simply getting around in big, congested Canadian cities, is one of the best things that you can do—something every cyclist knows or eventually learns. But what exactly are the numbers on that?

To answer that question, that’s where Omni Calculator comes in.

Along with a range of other web-based calculators, covering everything from math to statistics to finance, Omni put together its Car vs. Bike Calculator to put the benefits of cycling over driving into hard, irrefutable numbers. How much money would you save in a five-year period, for example? How many years might you add on to your life? By how much would you reduce carbon dioxide emissions in your town or city?

The numbers generated by this calculator paint a clearer picture of why switching from four wheels to two is something that, year after year, Canadians in greater numbers are doing. “In hundreds of cities all around the globe, people swap their cars for bikes and pedal their way through urban mazes,” Omni says. “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,” the calculator’s description adds. A statement to which cyclists everywhere are nodding their helmeted heads.

Car vs. Bike Calculator

10 reasons why you should choose a bike instead of a car to save the earth.

On top of all that and just in time for Earth Day, Omni came up with the following top-10 list of reasons to switch to the saddle, each of them backed by sources.

1) Bikes are the most energy efficient form of transportation

You can move five times faster than walking and go three times as far on the same amount of calories. Cars use 50 to 80 times more energy than a bike to travel the same distance.

2) Bikes require fewer raw materials to manufacture than cars

Building a bike takes only five per cent of the materials and energy required to produce a car.

3) Bikes reduce the demand for new roads, parking lots, that paving the earth with asphalt and concrete

Twelve bikes take the same amount of space as a single car. There are 800 million car parking spaces in the U.S., totaling 160 billion square feet of concrete and asphalt.

4) Bikes save rainforests

Far less rubber is involved in making bikes than cars. The rising need for rubber is one of the main causes of deforestation: plantations need space. The tire industry consumes 70 percent of all natural rubber grown, and rising demand for vehicle and airplane tires is behind the recent expansion of plantations.

5) Bikes reduce air pollution

Bicycle production and maintenance accounts for 5 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre and car production and maintenance accounts for 42 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre. Using our calculator, you can also calculate a tree-planting equivalency. This benefit is directly related to the reduction in carbon dioxide. Every tree can absorb 48 pounds of carbon dioxide annually. Using our calculator, you can not only calculate your emission reduction in carbon dioxide, but also find out how many trees would have to be planted in order to absorb such emissions.

6) Bikes reduce noise pollution

Fewer cars also mean less noise. A Canadian study found people living in Toronto in the noisiest areas for vehicle noise suffered 22 percent more deaths from heart disease than those in the quietest areas.

7) Bikes reduce time spent in traffic

Each auto-commuter in the U.S. spends an average of 41 hours a year in traffic during peak hours (source). According to French study, bikes are up to 50% faster than cars during rush hour. Also, bicycles do not contribute to traffic jams as much as cars.

8) Bikes help us live longer

Cycling improves your well-being: it promotes weight loss, builds muscle and strengthens your immune system. 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. It means that if you never got off a bike, your life expectancy would double.

9) Bikes save lives

According to British Cycling Report, if cycle use in the UK increases from less than 2 percent (current levels) to 25 percent, it could reduce road deaths by 30 percent.

10) Bikes save money

To drive a car you need to spend money on fuel, insurance, parking and expensive maintenance. Once you own a bike, maintenance costs are fairly low, they don’t cost anything to run day to day and the barrier for entry is much lower. The result is extra money in your pocket.