After years of vehicle ownership, I decided about 3 months ago it was time for a change of pace. Literally. Tired of the plethora of (and seemingly continually rising) costs associated with owning a vehicle (parking, maintenance, insurance, repairs, registration fees, gasoline, etc.), I sold my car and used part of the funds to purchase an E3 Vibe electric bicycle (e-bike) for $1,500 from Currie Technologies. An e-bike is a traditional pedal bicycle with a battery pack that stores electricity, an electric motor for propulsion, and a user control attached to the handle bars for modifying the level of electrical assistance.
(Source: Currie Technologies)
Living in Boulder, Colorado certainly makes this transition much easier than in most U.S. cities. An excellent bicycling infrastructure, a local carshare program, and comprehensive transit system all contribute to an excellent environment for going car-less.
With an upfront cost of $1,500, the e-bike will pay for itself after one year of avoided car insurance and gasoline expenses. My monthly gasoline and insurance charges were about $130 combined ($80 for insurance, $50 for gas), totaling $1,560 per year. This is more than the brand new e-bike cost itself, without even delving into the additional avoided costs of vehicle registration fees, parking, maintenance, and repairs. Just as an example of potential additional costs of owning a vehicle, it’s estimated that in Colorado, the average cost of a common car repair (parts & labor) was $348.17 in 2011.
What about the operating costs for e-bikes? While many organizations estimate the cost of fully charging an e-bike from $0.10 to $0.20, other conservative estimates project that it costs just under $0.25 to charge an average e-bike battery from empty to full. For me, this would happen about twice a week, since I’m usually charging the battery from half to full power 4 times per week (a 6.3 mile commute round trip usually drains the battery to a little over half power). Using the conservative estimate of $0.25 to fully recharge the battery, electricity for recharging my e-bike would run about $26 per year ($0.50 multiplied by 52 weeks). This (wishfully) assumes no winter in Colorado. With a more realistic projection of biking to work three-quarters of the year, this reduces the annual charging cost to under $20.
When the weather isn’t suitable for biking to work, I take the bus with a complimentary bus pass from my employer. However, since I do need access to a vehicle on occasion, I have become a member of Boulder’s carsharing program, eGo CarShare. So far, I am averaging about $20/month in rental fees, amounting to $240 per year.
Overall, becoming an e-bike owner has not only provided significant financial relief, but has also been an incredibly enjoyable experience. I bike more often and travel longer distances than I would typically go on a traditional bike. In addition, I get to confuse other cyclists with the humming sound of a 250W electric motor.
Tags: Clean Transportation, E-Bikes, Electric Vehicles, Smart Transportation Program
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