Tag Archives: cycling

Data Nerd: Transportation Expenses Updated

My 2012 post analyzing my transportation expenses is making the rounds on twitter again, so I thought I’d update the charts.
Transportation Expenses by Year Chart

Although the cost of driving in Canada has steadily risen, my transportation costs are flat. I spend $1200 a year split between car rentals, car sharing, cycling, and public transit.
Transportation Expenses by Year Pie

Living Car-Free Saves Me $7000 per Year

Modo Car with a Bike Rack
When I moved to Vancouver six years ago, I made two crucial decisions that have saved me thousands of dollars – I bought a bike and joined the car co-op.

Being a data nerd, I’ve kept detailed records of all my spending for the past decade (first in a spreadsheet, then in Quicken, and now in mint.com). I went back through my records to see how much I’ve spent on transportation since moving to Vancouver. In six years, I’ve spent nearly nearly $8000 getting around by bike, public transit, taxi, car sharing, and car rentals. That’s less than what most people spend on their car in 1 year.

Note: Updated charts with 2013 data are available here

According to CAA, the annual cost of owning a car (driven for 12,000 km per year) ranges from $7,723.72 for a Civic to $10,465.12 for an Equinox. When you don’t drive much, 80% of the cost of car ownership is fixed costs (insurance, license and registration, loan payments, and depreciation). Only 20% is proportional to the distance driven (gas and maintenance). CAA doesn’t include the cost of parking, which can be quite expensive in Vancouver. In my building, it costs $100/month for a parking spot.
Transportation Expenses by Year Pie
My expenses have averaged $1257 per year since I moved to Vancouver, almost equally split between car rentals, car sharing, cycling, and public transit (including taxis).

Transportation Expenses by Year Chart
Cycling is my main form of transportation, and most years it costs less than $200 to service my bike (new parts and maintenance). I purchased a bike in 2006 and 2009, spending an extra $500 (my commuter bike isn’t that expensive).

Bike LineupNormally, I don’t use the bus that often (it’s faster to bike), but in 2008 and 2009 I was working in West Vancouver and commuted a lot by bus (2 zones), which explains the higher public transit costs those years. Otherwise, I spend less than $200 per year on bus tickets and cab rides.

Living in Vancouver, the times I need a vehicle are rare. When I’m buying furniture or playing in the North Shore mountains, I often use a car sharing vehicle from Modo. In the past year, I’ve started using car2go for short trips when public transit and biking are inconvenient. For traveling around BC, I often rent a vehicle from Enterprise. car2go VancouverThe cost of each car trip is high (a car rental for a long weekend is between $100-$200, plus gas), but I only rent a car once or twice a year. My car sharing trips with Modo average $30 (including gas). Even though I only drive a few times a year, the cost of renting a vehicles and using car sharing accounts for more than 50% of my “car-free” transportation budget. But I appreciate the flexibility I have to get a car when I need one, and it is still way cheaper than owning a dedicated vehicle.

Now, it can be argued that living close to downtown Vancouver, where a car-free lifestyle is easy, is costing me more for rent. Which is true, but it’s an easy tradeoff to make for a healthy lifestyle. I’m willing to spend my transportation savings on more expensive rent so that I can replace hours stuck in my car with minutes on a bike and pleasant walks to the grocery store any day.

Backpacking Vietnam – Hoi An

Japanese Bridge
Hoi An is a tourist paradise – a compact city centre with well-preserved historic buildings, great restaurants, twisting alleys, and no cars (a blissful change from Vietnam’s other cities). The only downside is its overrun with tourists. The lack of cars and abundance of tourists made it often feel like you were in a sterilized version of the real Vietnam, but I still loved it.
Primitive Vehicles Only
We only spent two days in the city, and I wish we would have spent a few more. We saw most of the sights in the city, took a vegetarian cooking class, road bikes through the countryside, but we never got to the nearby ruins of Mỹ Sơn or took advantage of the hundreds of tailors in the city.
Hoi An Temple Rooftop Statues Fetsive Dog
Deep Fried Banana Fritters Tree Hugger Bananas Texting Monk
Hoi An has a great market and lots of yummy street food. We found an amazing vegetarian restaurant, hidden in a tiny alleyway, that served plates of amazing food for $1. It was so good we back for a second meal. We couldn’t believe how tasty and cheap it was.
Little Alleyway Vegetarian Vietnamese Buffet Quan Chay Co Dam
We splurged in Hoi An and stayed at a resort along the river, it was our Christmas present to ourselves, even if it didn’t feel like Christmas. It was too cold to take advantage of the pool, but the breakfast buffet was impressive.
Merry Christmas from Vietnam Vinh Hung Riverside Resort Emily Chillaxing
Continue reading Backpacking Vietnam – Hoi An

Voting advice from Dan Mangan

Here’s some video advice from Dan Mangan:

I would urge you to look at the candidates and choose ones that have decided to not go with attack ads, to not go with the low road, to not go with lowest common denominator politics, to not go with strategic griping, but sort of a politician who perhaps actually has passion, who takes into consideration a lot of issues that are on all of our minds.

And some advice from Vancouver cyclists:

I’m really going to vote for a bike-friendly candidate because this is amazing. To see how many people are getting out, to see the healthiness that we’re inspiring in Vancouver, to have safety, I think, is really key, and we want to support those in city council that are going to support cyclists.

5 Bike T-Shirts For Bike to Work Week

Monkeys on Bikes T-shirt Take Life by the Handlebars T-shirt Bike Lanes Make Me Hornby T-shirt Bike Vancouver T-shirt Bikefish T-shirt

Monday: Monkey See Monkey Do Better – Monkey 100
Tuesday: Take Life by the Handlebars – Momentum Magazine
Wednesday: Bike Lanes Make Me Hornby – VACC
Thursday: Bike Vancouver – City of Vancouver
Friday: Bikefish – Autonomie Project

Surprise Birthday Weekend to Harrison Hot Springs

Harrison Hot Springs - Adult Pool
Emily likes organizing surprise weekends. Last year for my birthday, we took our bikes on the train to Portland. This year I didn’t know where we were going except I needed a bathing suit and my bike.

On Saturday morning, we packed, jumped on our bicycles, and headed down to Cambie and 10th where there was a Modo co-op car with a bike rack. It took us a few minutes to figure out the bike rack – Emily was searching the car for a manual, I was looking for a video online, but once we took a closer look at the rack we realized it was surprisingly intuitive – and then we were on the road heading east.

It wasn’t until Surrey that I realized we were probably headed towards Harrison Hot Springs, but first we had to stop in at our favourite restaurant outside of Vancouver – Limbert Mountain Farm. Nothing says “local” like eating on a farm, and the food at Limbert is the freshest, tastiest food around.

At Harrison, we spent lots of time relaxing in the thermal pools and exploring the area by bike. Our friend Leanne gave us a copy of Easy Cycling Around Vancouver – 40 short tours for all ages. Cycling is a great way to explore an area – the pace is slower, you’re more likely to stop, and you see more then just the side of the highway. We followed two of the routes listed in the book: Harrison-Agassiz and Seabird Island. Both were flat routes, with little traffic, on nicely paved roads through scenic farmland (including most of the stops on the Circle Farm Tour). The only downsides were the pervasive smell of manure and some brief stretches on the highway shoulder.

On the way home, we stopped in at our favourite road stop tourist trap, Castle Fun Park, and played a round of mini golf and a few games of air hockey.

What a perfect weekend.

Modo Car with a Bike Rack  Fresh Baked Yum  Green Soup  Salad and a Wrap  Biking on Seabird Island  High Voltage Lines  Blue Cow Bike Horn  Tullip Fields  Scenic Cycling  Smooth Riding  Agassiz Cycling  Lunch with a View  Goats  Goat Kiss  Milking Machines  Air Hockey

Dunsmuir Bike Lane – By The Numbers

A few days ago the City of Vancouver posted the daily statistics for the Dunsmuir and Hornby separated bike lanes (available here). I am the self-appointed data nerd at work, and thought it would be fun to apply some of the same techniques we use to analyze building energy to bike trips.

The first thing I did was go through the data to see if I could determine the driving factors of bike lane usage. The data file contains data from several sensors (located up and down Hornby and Dunsmuir) but I focused on the Dunsmuir viaduct because it had the most data (11 months worth). With only 11 months of data, you can’t do any year-over-year comparisons, but you can start to notice trends.

The first obvious pattern is there is a clear difference between weekday and weekend usage, with volumes nearly doubling Monday-Friday. This makes sense, since the bike lanes provide access to the downtown.

There is also a noticeable seasonal difference in the data, with summer traffic (peaking at 2099 trips per day) doubling the December high of 1025. The driver of this is, as you might guess, weather related. Once I added in weather data from Environment Canada, you can see a strong correlation between average temperature and bike trips.

The next biggest driver of bike trips is the addition of the separated bike lane on Dunsmuir. On March 3 a bike lane was added to the Dunsmuir Viaduct. On June 15, the separated bike lane extending from the viaduct to Hornby was completed, replacing a painted bike lane. It really shifted up usage of the Dunsmuir Viaduct, adding about 500 extra trips per day in the 2nd half of June.

You can build a pretty good linear model that would predict bike lane usage based on the day of the week and the temperature. The outliers you’ll notice are holidays (which have very low usage), fireworks (which were the highest used days) and days with > 3 mm of rain (marked with R) or snow (marked with S). I was surprised that holiday volumes are lower then weekend volumes. Rain and snow are obvious deterrents to cycling, but extreme cold apparently isn’t. On days where the temperature dropped below freezing, but were dry, cycling volumes were on par with days averaging +5 C.

The last question to ask is “is bike usage increasing”? There was a definite jump after the Dunsmuir separated lane bike lane was completed on June 15. Looking at data since then, you need to isolate out weather to make a fair comparison. If you look at months with similar average temperatures (July/August and December/January) there is small, but noticeable growth in cycling volumes. However, it is tough to say if it is a trend or not. Another year of data would really help. After July 2011, we’ll be able to compare the data to July 2010 and do a year-over-year comparison where the infrastructure isn’t changing. That is when we’ll be able to spot growth.

Thanks to the City of Vancouver for providing this data and the separated bike lanes. It is really interesting to see the growth of commuter cyclists in Vancouver.

Update: Hirtopolis addresses the issue of data fudging and anomalous readings in the city’s data.