When I first moved to NYC, I remember being told over and over that it had one of the best subways in the world. It is pretty convenient, but over the years there have a been a bunch of times where the train broke down, or the next train didn’t come for the longest time. Well, a CitiBike is available all the time, and saves considerable time and money.
I mostly walked as everything I usually went to was within a mile, but any distance longer than a mile would be a 20+ minute walk, so I would Uber or take the train. When Uber became cheaper than the train (if you had 2 people in your group it would sometimes show up as $4 for 2 people, even with tip it was cheaper), I started taking Uber.
Fast forward 2 years and I’m at dinner with a couple of friends at Chick Fil A. A friend mentions he spends less than $20 a month on transportation. Seriously? I ask him to explain. He says he rides his CitiBike to work 5 days a week, and that when meeting for friends, if it’s less than a 2 mile distance, he’ll take the CitiBike as well. I pepper him with questions, “What happens if there’s no CitiBike that day in a station?”, “Isn’t it cold outside now?”, and “Are there a lot of stations for you to get bikes at?”
Guess what? The CitiBike is the cheapest, fastest, and healthiest way to get around NYC. If you’re in another metropolitan or High Cost of Living (HCOL) city, there’s probably a bikeshare as well. Check it out to save you time, money, and burn calories! While you’re getting your transportation in order, get your financial life in order.
What if there aren’t any bikes at this station? Are there a lot of stations for you to get bikes at?
There are Citibike stations within a 3 minute walk anywhere in Manhattan, and a lot of stations in the borough edges to Manhattan as I’ve come to learn. There’s also an app that you can quickly check to see how many bikes and how many empty docks there are at a station.
What if it’s cold?
You’ll find yourself overheating a bit if you zip up your warm jacket. I tend to leave my jacket unzipped and the body heat I generate from biking warms me up and the warm gloves I wear get my hands feeling very cozy. I have a plaid fur cap that I wear so my head stays warm. It looks cute! I have a scarf I would wear anyway.
How much does it save you? $1,000 a year!
Now, let’s calculate how much you would save if you had a Citibike or bikeshare vs used public transportation. Let’s assume you ride your Citibike 9 times a week during M-F, as on Friday you’d like to go out with your friends. You ride it four times during the weekend to do errands or meet friends and take another subway ride on Saturday when you are too drunk to ride a bike.
That comes out to 13 times riding a Citibike per week instead of taking the subway, and leaves you with taking public transit 2 times a week. I’m not going to include Uber rides here, because Uber rides and riding a bike are not interchangeable. Odds are, you take the Uber when you’re so drunk you just need to get home, or your company is paying for it, or your friends and you are carpooling to a place (and then it probably costs as much as the subway per person anyway).
The subway in NYC costs $2.75, and the 30 day unlimited pass is $121. For you to break even on the 30 day unlimited pass you would need to ride the CitiBike 44 times during the 30 days, which you do in our example.
If you have a CitiBike Membership, transportation costs you $463 over the course of the year. If you just use the 30-day subway unlimited membership, you end up spending $1468 a year. So, you save roughly $1k every year! *But Olivia, that’s not that much money! 1k barely makes a dent in my FIRE plan!* Oh, young firebird, how wrong you are. Look below as I show you how much that 1k becomes in a few years.
If you’re 22 and you use the CitiBike or bikeshare instead of taking the subway, you’ll save $360k throughout your working years. Maybe you’ll have a little extra for those everyday luxuries. To those who are looking to retire early, take a look at the “Years to retirement” column. Looking to save even more? Well, you can do that, and retire in less than 10 years.
Is it really more healthy and does it burn calories? Losing 15 pounds a year sounds great.
Riding a CitiBike burns roughly 50 calories per mile, and it gives you a chance to get fresh air. Go, bikeshares!
Siting in the dirty subway worsens my mood most times. People are pushy when it’s rush hour, there’s nowhere to sit at times, and it’s just dirty. Look up at the ceiling in the subway in NYC, and there’s fungus and mold there! There’s trash on the track and just breathing in the air makes me feel like I’m breathing in carcinogens or something terrible. It also burns 0 calories.
My average work week bike ride is 1.5 miles, and my average weekend bike trip is 2. Assuming a 50 calorie/mile burn rate, I burn roughly 1,000 extra calories per week for riding a bike, and 15 pounds a year! Get a head start on your weight loss bet, and make money while saving money on your weight loss journey!
Is it faster?
If you’re comparing walking to biking, it’s roughly 2/5 of the time to bike somewhere as to walk. In terms of the subway, my biking has always been at most 3/4 of the time it takes to travel by subway instead. So taking that 3/4 number, I save roughly 2 hours a week, or 112 hours a year!
Some special ways to save for the Citibike (I don’t qualify for these, and I feel most people won’t, but hey, someone might)
BikeShare List for Cities
DC – Capital Bikeshare
Boston – Hubway
Above are the list of big cities with bikeshares, but Wikipedia here has a giant list with small cities as well.
Extra spreadsheet rules
Only consider a ride trip if you would NOT be walking. Walking is free, so you shouldn’t compare it to the subway/Citibike in terms of cost. You can compare riding to walking in terms of the bike, they are pretty similar, so it doesn’t save you that many more calories to walk instead of ride or vice versa.
Since I got a Citibike, I’ve gotten a:
Bike Helmet – I believe in mitigating my chances of death or injury. You can get a free helmet at a NY DOT meeting, but those are about an hour away from me by train so I just ordered mine off of Amazon.
Bike mirror – clips on to the helmet so that you can see the cars behind you. These were the best I could find, if you have a better suggestion please let me know!
So, how much time and money would you save by switching over to a bike system, and how many extra calories would you burn? Use the spreadsheet and let me know with your comments below!
Optimizing your life is about taking those everyday moments in life and finding a better solution in one fell swoop. Because that’s where you’ll get the most bang for your buck.
As always, let me know what expense/savings you’d want me to analyze next!
Olivia worked in finance and wants you to learn the secrets of financial independence. She believes there are so many ways to monetize your life and make money doing the things you're already doing because so many companies offer free money.
The average savings account rate is 0.1%. The big banks have incredibly low savings accounts rates. CIT Bank offers a 1.75% savings account. You can open an account with just $100 and no monthly fees or charge . Tired of being charged fees and getting peanuts in interest at your current bank? Open a CIT Bank savings account in less than 15 minutes online.
If you have a car, Rideshare apps allow you to pick a direction you want to go twice a day, so you can get extra money going somewhere you were driving to anyway at least twice a day. Get a $300 sign-up bonus with Lyft.
One of my favorite ways ways of monetizing my life is via credit card bonuses with cards that give you cashback or rewards. Check out our review of the Chase Sapphire cards, which give you at least $500 in cash or $625 in travel credit.