A 10,000% return on Investment

Intrigued by the title, are you? Must be a load of bull, right? I mean, a 10,000% return is like multiplying your initial investment by 100! Get excited, because this type of investment vehicle actually exists, and it is quite literally a vehicle.

You mean like a car? Fuck no! A car does nothing but depreciate while it actively costs you money per mile. Not to mention many people finance them and end up paying way above sticker price. To get a 10,000% return of investment, you need a good old fashioned bicycle.

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Excellent view from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, Maryland

If you can’t tell by the swearing, I am a little passionate on the subject. You see, a bike accomplishes many great things for you simultaneously. Actively paying you in both the short and long run. But how could it provide a 10,000% return? Lets do a little comparative analysis of bicycling V.S driving

Bikes Cars
Cost Per Mile $0.00-$0.10 per mile 0.50 per mile
Maintenance Less than $100 per year, or free with access to Youtube and a good DIY attitude Anywhere from $300 to $1000 per year for a typical driver

($300 for a DIY type)

Health Amazing. Fresh air, calories burned continuously, increased lung function, muscle growth, endorphins and countless other benefits Awful. Prolonged trips leave muscles weak from non-use. Stress from other drivers and from paying for tickets
Traffic hah Depends on location. Can be very rough in cities
Time Trips 7 miles of less, about the same

Trips over 7 miles, about an extra 3 minutes per mile

About 3 minutes per mile faster for each mile over about 7
Parking Park wherever the hell you want Varies by area. Often not free
Danger 0.7% mortality rate 0.5% mortality rate

Looking at savings on gas, maintenance, health, parking, and traffic, it is easy to see the monetary benefits of this wonderful two wheeled machine.

A person saves roughly 50 cents per mile in riding a bike vs driving. By replacing 5 miles of your daily commute, you would save $17.50 a week. If your were to say, roll this into index funds, we are talking about  $13,160 after ten years!

From the health side, the frequent exercise would cause a reduction in doctors visits and prescription medications later in life. Lets make a conservative guess that this artery clearing machine saves you $350 a year on health costs, here you have saved an additional $5,000 over ten years.

How much do you spend on parking each year? $50 per year was the norm for me, looking back at my silly car commuting days (for parking garages, meter, and tickets) Here’s another $700.

Traffic. Difficult to put a figure on this…although most would agree that the reduction in stress from traffic would be worth AT LEAST $100 a year. Over ten years we have $1,446

Bicycling Savings rolled into Index funds at 7%

Gas/Maintenance:   $13,160

Health:                     $5,060

Parking :                  $720

Traffic:                     $1,446

Total:                       $20,386

And it can all be yours for about $200 on craigslist for a nice Trek. Turning $200 into $20,000 is equivalent to earning 10,000% on your investment!

Some of these categories on the chart were not mentioned. This is because for these calculations, they  were considered to be a wash. In other words, there is no clear advantage between one or the other.

Time:

This one is a bit deceiving, as bicycling may take more time than driving, however it adds to your longevity, paying you in time in the long run. For short trips within the city, a commuter bike can hold an average speed of 15-20 mph, as would a car with the starts and stops of traffic. Obviously if the trip is long enough, the bicyclist would not hold as high a speed as a car given that we are now outside of the city.

Danger:

These mortality rates are based off the likelihood of a person being killed using each mode of transportation for regular commuting over a thirty year period. So for driving a car, a 0.5% mortality rate means that 1 in 200 regular motor vehicle commuters will be killed over a 30 year period. You will notice that the bicycle mortality rate is higher only by a minuscule amount. If you think about it, this is easily offset by the added longevity. not to mention there are a few factors that could be skewing this data:

  • Wearing a seat-belt is THE LAW. Although some may choose not to abide by it, the vast majority of drivers have the habit of clicking it before they even start the car. This habit is engraved in stone. For bicyclists in most states a helmet is optional past the age of 14. Many foolish pedalists will opt not to use a helmet.
  • Although drivers may ignore this one, turn signals are something we all know how to use. It is for some reason rare to see a bicyclists use them however. Many do not even know what the hand signals are for turning on a bike

How safe you are behind the handlebars is up to you. A little common sense goes a long way. Treat your bike as if it were any other vehicle, and you will find yourself a lower end outlier on the bicycle mortality statistic.

A bicycle really is the ultimate machine for an efficient and happy lifestyle. They only weigh 20-30 pounds and can carry 10 times their weight great distances, running on calories instead of gasoline. While cars gunk up the earth to get where they are going, a bicycle clears your arteries and expands your lung power.

Most respond to this with complaints of “oh, I can’t ride a bike because of my athletic ability, age, climate, or just because I am not happy if I am sweaty!”  To these people I say, just get on the bike for awhile and see how you feel! I guarantee you will feel better, sleep better, think clearer, and look better, just hop on a bike and see. Bikes are a very effective way of getting around. I once rode from Towson University to Ocean City, MD (173 miles) in a day. I ride when it is 4 degrees F and snowing, when it is 104 F and humid, and when it is 75 F with a pleasant breeze.

I arrive when I am going with endorphins rushing and a cleared head. Although I do own a car, it is always the second choice of transportation for me behind the bicycle.

If you truly find yourself having trouble with a transition like this (maybe you have not done any physical exercise in years) I challenge you to take this one step: start getting your groceries by bike. Most of you live very close to where you get groceries, plus you get a rest once you are there and shopping. Start small and consistently build up. Remember that increased effort now sets you up nicely for decreased effort later . Just imagine getting to most of the places you go to anyway while trimming fat and getting paid!

I promise you will not achieve a higher return on investment in anything else in your life, so get pedaling!