Your Car or Your Life – with WSJ infographic

Just came across this very telling infographic and accompanying Wall Street Journal article detailing the true cost of owning a car.

More and more, people are waking up to the fact that car ownership is a raw deal!

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With the eruption of car-sharing and ride-sharing companies and services, car manufacturers should take heed.

Of course, this is just the very beginning of what I believe is a necessary societal adjustment away from motorized travel and toward human-powered and mass transit.

It’s not the car company’s fault. It’s nobody’s fault, per se.

This is the accumulation of subsidized cost over several generations that really came to full maturity with the rise of an affluent middle class.

In post WWII America, our country was very much an open landscape of trade, commerce, and industrialization.

That party is officially over, however, and now it’s time to pay up.

…if you’re like 76% of Americans, you drive to work alone and it takes you about 50 minutes a day round-trip on average. Your driving costs are counted in AAA’s estimate, but what about the value of your time?

Let’s say your time is worth $25 an hour. Add up that 50-minute commute every weekday for all but two weeks a year and you’re spending about $5,200 a year.

After 10 years, that’s $52,000 worth of your time, gone, not to mention the $94,500 in direct car costs, without even including your garage financing costs.

Dollars aren’t the Only Cost

If you read this blog regularly, you’ll hear me tell you that cars are a great thing!

It’s all the driving that’s really killing us — literally.

Check out these maps that I lifted from the outstanding source,


We’ve been hearing about obesity rates in the US for years now, so this should shock absolutely nobody. What is very enlightening is when you compare the above map to the below:


I’m no expert, but I detect a pattern here.  Knowing that correlation is not causation, my common-sens-o-meter is still pinging pretty hard, and it’s spitting out an equation that looks a bit like this:

Driving to Work = Increased risk of Obesity

Is there a real cost to obesity?

According to some wicked smart dudes at Harvard, that cost can actually be quantified and classified as direct and indirect costs that headed north of $190 billion in 2006.  Yeah, that’s a lot of lettuce.

Fortunately, there’s something we can do about it.  Since this problem is the accumulation of habits over time, the easiest and most joyful solution is to reverse this accumulation by opting out of driving as much as possible.

Notice I didn’t say sell your car (although this is certainly a way), but that’s simply not practical in a car-centric society. Instead, dismantle your car habit in increments. It’s actually very easy and enjoyable, believe it or not.

Start with your commuting habits. Pretend you just got a DUI (just pretend), and now you no longer have an automobile to get around in…. now what? You’re a creative person, so my guess is that you can come up with half a dozen options in the next 20 minutes.

If you can’t, I did it for you.

If you already do, then please drop a comment for all 16 of our fellow readers!  We’re counting on you.

Remember – incremental change over time wins everything in the end. Happy Cycling!

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