Switching short journeys can really add up, claims Sustrans Scotland
New research has revealed that ditching the car and getting in the saddle for journeys less than five miles can save Scots up to £2,000 a year.
The findings released by Sustrans Scotland are based on the standard running costs of a car and bike. They compare the direct cost savings made if existing car journeys were replaced by bike for trips less than 5 miles, 10 miles and all annual travel.
The research shows that for households who already own a bike, as well as saving £1,959.16 per year, when swapping four wheels for two for short trips, £2013.49 can be saved for journeys of 10 miles or less.
Sustrans Scotland says even households which don’t own a bike are able to save if they make the switch to cycling for trips of less than five miles, and can put away up to £1,874.16 in their first year, after the cost of buying a bike.
It claims that with the average salary in Scotland, these savings are equivalent to more than an 8% pay rise in take-home salary.
Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said: “By choosing to leave the car at home for short trips, people can make significant financial savings. This research highlights the importance of people in Scotland making smarter travel choices for more of their everyday journeys.
“The Scottish Government will continue to invest in infrastructure and behaviour change programmes to ensure people have the widest choice possible for their journeys and encourage more cycling and walking for shorter everyday trips.”
John Lauder, National Director from Sustrans Scotland, said: “What makes this study so special is that the savings don’t rely on people on giving up their car for good, a decision which simply isn’t realistic for many households.
“Not only is cycling good for your physical and mental health, but it also helps people save money for journeys which typically take no more than 30 minutes by bike.
“We hope our findings will encourage Scots to think twice before taking their car out for short trips if they don’t have to.”
Rachel Ducker, 29, works for the University of Edinburgh.
Until two years ago she lived in London, but was always felt apprehensive about cycling to work. Instead she took public transport and hated her commute to work, as she felt it was too expensive and take a long time.
When Ducker moved to Edinburgh in August 2015, she made the decision to start cycling to work.
Depending on her day, she can be based at one of a number of university locations across Edinburgh, Little France or the Kings Buildings. And, even though she owns a car and is able to park on site if needs be, Rachel says she chooses to cycle instead.
She said: “I like the fact that I don’t have to rely on public transport or worry about getting stuck in traffic,” she says. “As my job is really desk based, I know that by cycling to and from the office every day that I will get a little bit of exercise.
“I also think that cycling is a far quicker way of getting around than by car. I don’t have to worry about paying for parking and I know I’m saving money that would otherwise be spent on petrol or bus tickets.”
Although money was a contributing factor in her decision to cycle more, Rachel says that wanting to be more active and caring about the environment have also been huge incentives.
“Cycling for short journeys has now become an everyday habit,” she notes. “We are thinking of moving house and a major influencing factor in where we decide to live will be if my husband and I are able to commute to work by bike.
“And, even though we have a car, when it comes to planning activities we can do from home, decisions will be based on if we can cycle there or not.”
Billy Rosendale, 41, is a web developer for University of Edinburgh. He moved from Edinburgh to Doune in February, to be closer to his family.
However with the move, came the dilemma of how to travel to work. Rosendale had to make the decision as to whether or not he should buy a car for his commute, or if he would cycle and take a train instead.
He said: “I knew there would be environmental and physical benefits to cycling and taking the train, however I wanted to weigh that up against the cost to my personal time and my wallet.”
As a result, Rosendale signed up to Sustrans Scotland’s Workplace Journey Challenge. By logging his journey to work every day, the free, month-long challenge helped him to calculate the cost savings he was making by cycling 3.7 miles from Doune to Dunblane, taking the train to Edinburgh Waverly station and then cycling 3.1 miles to his office.
“According to Sustrans’ Journey Challenge I saved around £450 by cycling and taking the train in March.
“And when I did the maths I realised that I couldn’t get cheaper than cycling and train,” he said. “I worked out that the cost of my season ticket would be £10 a day. Compared it to the cost of running a car and fuel costs, it was a total no brainer.”
Rosendale says he is putting the money he is saving from his commute towards a holiday.
“Although I know my journey to work is now an hour longer than it used to be, but as the cycling sections are much shorter, even though the total commute is longer, it’s a less arduous trip.”
“In an ideal world, I wouldn’t choose to live so far away from my work, but family commitments mean that I don’t have much of a choice.
“Having a bike fits perfectly with all aspects of my life be it shopping or activities with family or friends. I’d like to think that now I have made the switch I won’t go back to owning a car.”