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Here's How Cycling to Work Can Save You at Least £1,700 Each Year

Bicycling to work not only keeps you fit and strong, it can also make your bank account healthier. Unless you are lucky enough to live within walking distance of work, cycling is by far the cheapest travel option for most commuters. Below we break down the annual costs for a commuter living 7.5 miles from work if they cycle, take public transport or drive.

Cost of Cycling to Work

It costs a commuter around £300 each year to cycle to work. The commuter must purchase a cycle and related equipment, which we estimate at £1,000 to buy a commuting bicycle and a lock, backpack or basket and some rain gear.

While a top-end bicycle can cost thousands of pounds, a budget-conscious commuter can get from point A to point B on a less expensive bike—with the added advantage that a cheaper bike is less likely to be a target for thieves. The £1,000 budget leaves room for a £750 pedal cycle, plus money to buy a Sold Secure Gold standard lock—which you can get for under £100—and some other gear to help carry your belongings or keep you dry.

Assuming conservatively that you need to replace your bicycle and gear every five years, the annual depreciation cost of your £1,000 investment is £200 (£1,000 divided by 5 years = £200 per year). Add to this an estimated annual service and repair cost of £100 and it will cost around £300 per year to cycle to work. If you're eligible for the Cycle to Work Scheme you'll pay even less.

Annual Cost to Cycle to Work
Cost of Bicycle£750
Cost of Lock£80
Cost of Other Equipment (e.g., backpack and rain gear)£170
Equipment Cost£1,000 or £200/year for 5 years
Cost of Annual Bicycle Service and Repairs£100
Annual Cost (assuming you replace your cycle and gear every 5 years)£300

Cost to Take the Tube or Train to Work

Travelling 7.5 miles to work on the tube or train will cost around £2,000 per year, depending on where you live. Those in London would pay £2,020 for the cost of an annual Travelcard for Zones 1 - 4 (which would cover a 7.5 mile commute into central London).

Those living elsewhere in the UK would pay a similar amount. According to research from VoucherCloud, Brits pay £0.55 per mile (the most expensive in Europe). Using this metric, a commuter travelling 7.5 miles by train, twice a day, 48 weeks a year would therefore pay £1,980 per year in train fares.

Annual Cost to Take the Train or Tube to Work
London TubeAnnual Travel Card Zones 1 - 4£2,020
Train£0.55 per mile times 7.5 miles, twice a day, 48 weeks a year£1,980

It's Still Cheaper to Cycle, Even if You Take the Train on Poor Weather Days

Even if a commuter doesn't want to bike on especially cold or wet days, they'd still be better off financially buying the occasional ticket and riding their bike the rest of the time. For example, a London commuter with an Oyster card would pay a maximum of £10.10 per day to use the tube between Zones 1 - 4 when using Pay As You Go on days they don't cycle. If this commuter takes the tube on fewer than 170 days per year, they come out ahead vs. buying an annual Travel Card.

This is because the commuter saves £1,720 per year by cycling instead of buying an annual Travel Card (£2,020 Travel Card cost minus the cost of cycling to work of £300 = £1,720). Dividing this £1,720 savings by the £10.10 maximum cost of using the tube gives us 170 days. Since it only rained 147 days in the UK last year, even someone who never wants to ride in the rain would be better off financially by cycling to work only on sunny days and using Pay As You Go on rainy days.

Cost to Drive to Work

A commuter driving a Ford Fiesta should expect to pay over £2,900 per year to drive 7.5 miles to and from work every day. Driving to work is typically the most expensive commuting option, even if you don't need to pay for parking once you get to work. This cost can be broken down into a lease fee, insurance premium and petrol costs. A Ford Fiesta can be leased starting from £160 per month, which adds up to £1,920 over 12 months. The average cost of car insurance for a 35-year-old driver of a Ford Fiesta starts from around £639 per year. Finally, a driver should expect to pay a petrol cost of around £379 for petrol to drive a Ford Fiesta 3,600 miles per year.

Annual Cost to Drive to Work
Lease Fees for a Ford Fiesta£160 per month/£1,920 per year
Insurance Costs£639
chart comparing the cost of commuting by bicycle, tube, train and car
Erin Yurday

Erin Yurday is the Founder and Editor of NimbleFins. Prior to NimbleFins, she worked as an investment professional and as the finance expert in Stanford University's Graduate School of Business case writing team. Read more on LinkedIn.