Cost of Living Hack: Switching from Cars to Bikes

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We’re living at times when even the smallest savings can make a big impact on our budget. The cost-of-living crisis is putting a toll on our finances, and it’s important to see where we can make adjustments in order to save some money.

Switching from your car to a bike is a great change you can make today. It has many benefits not only for your budget but also for your health and the environment!

To put things into perspective, we’ve looked into how much you can actually save if you ride a bike instead of driving a car. 

Parking endeavours

Debunking car parking fees

One of the biggest inconveniences of driving around the city is finding a parking spot, and it often comes with a cost. New research by Moneybarn has revealed the cities in the UK that have the most expensive parking. Top of the list is Edinburgh, with a whopping fee of £7.78 per hour, followed by Cambridge (£7.76) and Norwich (£6.73).

Availability can also be an issue, especially in busier cities and at peak times. The cities that have the most NCP parking spaces per car, according to the Moneybarn research, are Manchester (37.77 spaces per 1,000 registered cars), Cambridge (35.92) and Colchester (28.08).

Given the economic downturn, car parking fees can take a toll on your budget. While you have to pay for most car parking spots in the city/downtown, you can find free ones if you plan your route in advance. Freeparkingspots.com provides drivers with information about free parking spots and their schedules across the UK. However, these options are limited.

Parking spots for bikes 

The parking situation for bikes is much more favourable. There are various free parking spots around schools, stations, shopping centres, and other public spaces, from ‘Sheffield’ racks to two-tier racks that are popular around railway stations. Most workplaces also offer parking spots for bikes.

If you’re looking for a parking spot in advance, OpenStreetMap provides information on bike parking around the UK and provides the exact number of spots. The best thing about cycling is that parking in a public location is free.

The same bike parking options apply to electric bikes as well. Nevertheless, you should take safety as a priority, given that e-bikes can be attractive to thieves. If possible, park off the street or at least in a well-lit area. Use a high-quality bike locker and remove the battery as an extra precaution.

A fee can occur if you decide to store your bike in an at-home shed safely and securely. Prices for a wooden bike shed start at £299, with the average price being £313. Metal sheds cost an average of £426, while Perspex sheds can be found at about £1,570. Some neighbourhoods also offer paid residential parking.

Charging 

As of October 2022, fuel prices soared after three months of decreasing prices. The average price of a litre of diesel increased by 10p to 190.51p. It now costs about £105 to fill up a 55-litre tank of an average family car, which will last for about 375 miles. This is the third-highest increase on record after March and April this year.

Alternatively, a bike costs nothing to fuel – only your own energy and enthusiasm! Even an electric bike is cheaper to run than a car. It costs about £0.0015 per mile to charge a 10-amp battery in an area where electricity costs £0.09 per Kilowatt-hour. In retrospect, with distance, it will cost £0.5625 for the bike to last 375 miles – significantly cheaper than a car.

Insurance

Getting insurance on your vehicle is a great way to ensure that in case of an incident, your vehicle is protected, and you won’t lose a ton of money. According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), comprehensive car insurance in the UK costs an average of £419 a year, based on data from the second quarter of 2022. There are a few factors that determine the price, such as the insurance market, the cost of repairs, and the wider economy. 

While it’s not mandatory to insure bikes and electric bikes, it’s definitely recommended, given the rise in bike thefts that can end up costing more in the long run, especially for our electric companions. Insurance company Admiral Insurance reported that claims for bike thefts have risen by 40% between 2019 and 2021, and claims in the first two months of 2022 alone have also increased by 56%.

When it comes to bikes, there are various insurances you can choose from. The price is determined by the value of your bike. For example, if your bike costs £300, you can insure it for as little as £24.90. For a bike that costs £3,000, you can get premium insurance for as much as £170.

In order to be eligible for electric bike insurance, your e-bike must have a maximum power output of 250 watts, a top speed limit of 15.5mph, and it needs to have pedals alongside the motor. The average price for e-bike insurance for a bike valued at up to £1,500 is £47. Bicycles valued between £1,500 and £3,000 cost an average of £117.20, and those valued over £3,000 cost about £200.13.

Road tax increases

In 2022-2023, road tax, or Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), increases. Band A vehicles that were registered between 1 March 2001 and 30 March 2017 will now be moved to Band B. Instead of being qualified for free road tax, they will now have to pay £20 per year for VED, and the discount for hybrid cars will end too.

The standard rate of road tax VED for cars registered after 2017 has also increased by 6%, meaning that the tax you pay after year one has risen from £155 to £165. The road tax for cars from various polluting groups has also increased. To top things up, electric cars now also have to pay road tax for the first time ever. The bigger the vehicle is and the more emissions it produces, the higher the road tax rate is. The changes to road tax came into force on April 1, 2022.

On the other hand, bike owners aren’t required to pay VED because they’re classed as ultra-low emissions vehicles.

Based on the road tax law changes, as of 2025, electric bikes will also be taxed a VED. They will be classed in the lowest tax group and pay £22 a year.

Riding a bike is one of the cheapest modes of transportation and a great alternative to driving a car if your circumstances allow it. If you’re looking for a faster but still efficient and budget-friendly way of commuting, then an electric bike might be your best option!

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