Home > Complete Streets, Cultural Movement, Economics, Public Transit, Walking > Calculating the miles…Part II: The cost of walking

Calculating the miles…Part II: The cost of walking



…Or, rather, the savings

Here are the trips left out of yesterday’s post

First, the big hit…The two jet plane trips this year. One, completed back in March and another coming this May. In one aspect, reducing the miles I drive locally allowed me to more readily afford a plane ride, theoretically at least. It’s also interesting to point out, that these two trips flying were really a means to get to more walking opportunities.


Made for walking

Your 20-minute walk commute?

One way I’ve been able to reduce my motorized miles is that I’m able and willing to walk pretty much anywhere within a mile and half radius. That ability was a key factor for making the choice to live where I do. This happens to also be just under the 2-mile trip length of 40% of car trips in the United States (Bike League). I’m also able and willing to bike my fair share of trips within a more expanded radius. The bike radius on average is anything within 5 miles, but can expand to 15 or 20 given the right circumstance.

The estimates below don’t take into account two-wheeled joy rides up and down the peninsulas or walks in the woods. I tried to stick strictly to average weekly miles where I’m on a task above and beyond exercise.


External costs for biking and walking are 0.9¢ and 0.2¢, respectively (Whose Roads?-PDF)

Missing from this chart is the cost of shoes and a bicycle, so to be honest let me knock off $200 from my private savings, because over a 5-year period I’m sure I spend $30 annually on transportation shoes and another $170 on new bicycle gear. Still, that’s a nice $1,000 savings for simply choosing to walk and bike around my community.

Interesting to note that my estimated $398 cost of driving that I externalize, is more than off-set by my willingness and ability to walk or bike 1,770 miles. Those miles, if driven, would cost society $513 (29¢ a mile, see yesterday’s post for explanation), so I’m willing to call it even if you are….Now, what to do to off-set my carbon footprint (GHG) for flying?…Ideas?

To close, and since I’ve used his research on the costs so heavily, a quote from Todd Litman about reducing our miles driven:

A gallon of gas saved by reducing driving is worth an order of magnitude more in terms of consumer savings, community savings…in terms of economic development than that same gallon of gasoline used to get someone to drive a more fuel-efficient car.”


Are you saving money because of reduced miles?

How are you doing it?  



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  1. April 25, 2013 at 9:28 am

    Interesting! If one is shopping for a used car, “highway miles” is deemed as a “plus”, as we all know “city driving” (start stop), short trips, barely gets the car warmed up. We use the brakes much more in town, the transmissions, clutches, steering gear, dodging other “drivers”, all these components get much more of a work out…then add the local pot holes versus generally much smoother highway surfaces and “city miles” really start to add up financially. I’m not anti-car. I have a small sedan and a work truck in our garage. I’m quite certain I do not rack up 1,000 a year running errands around town by car or truck. I go months sometimes, without having to fuel a vehicle…what does THAT cost? (save). If “stuff” has to be hauled, the car or truck comes out. But if it’s commuting to work, shopping, errands, etc., a bike equipped with fenders, baskets and lights is my go-to transportation of CHOICE. And we all HAVE choices. Especially if you DRIVE to a health club.

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