Value for Money: Commuting
Car, bike, e-scooter or shank’s mare? We put four ways of getting to work to the test
You will get from A to B faster by bike than almost all the other forms of commuting. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Prices range from €300 to around €1,000; the one we borrowed from gyrowheel.ie was in the middle of the range. By any measure, that is a significant sum of money, and while we have heard of people buying them under the bike-to-work scheme, a step which would see the cost fall by half and allow you to spread the payments out over a year, we are not sure if the Department of Transport would approve. They are easy to use and will allow you get from A to B (as long as A is not too far from B) without breaking a sweat. As far as we can tell they are no more dangerous than riding a bike – perhaps even less so as you take up less space on the road and have a shorter distance to fall if things go wrong. At 12kg it is pretty lightweight and very portable, which means you won’t have to leave it outside for long stretches where it can fall victim to thieves. Of course, that means you will have to take it with you wherever you go, which can make a shopping experience tiresome. While hand signals are a problem, the people at gyrowheel.ie also sell indicators that can be attached to scooters handily enough.Unlike a bike, there is no capacity to sit or rest and it won’t get your heart racing.
Verdict: Not perfect but a big step for commuters
Star rating: * * * *
The big advantage of walking is the price. It costs absolutely nothing to walk from A to B – save, perhaps, for the wear and tear on your shoes. There is also no requirement for anything more elaborate than a pair of shoes, and it needs no preparation save for the putting of one foot in front of the other. While it is cheap – or free – it is also the longest and slowest form of commuting, and although it can be perfectly pleasant on a nice day when you are not in a mad rush, it is quite a different story if you are running late or it is lashing rain. It is also not great when it comes to covering long distances – a 2km stroll is a whole lot different from a 10km hike.
Verdict: Very cheap. Very slow.
Star rating: ***
€500 per year
Your car is warm and dry and you can listen to the radio or to music as you commute. It will also allow you bring anywhere between four and seven people with you on your journey, and you can stop on the way home and do the weekly shop handily enough. It can also see you snarled up in traffic as you inch from A to B. And unless you are driving an electric car, you are also guilty of polluting the planet. The other big factor is the cost. First you have to buy one. Then you have to pay for the insurance and the tax and the maintenance. And then there is the fuel. The average Irish motorist drives 16,000km a year, and the average family car does around 12.4km per litre. A litre of petrol now costs around €1.36. Based on these numbers, a typical motorist will spend around €1,750 on fuel over the course of 12 months. But if a car owner who lives 5km from their place of work can commute using something other than a car, they could cut distance they travel by 50km a week. Assuming they work for 46 weeks a year, that would see the total distance travelled fall by 2,300km, saving them €252 in fuel costs alone every year.
Verdict: Bad for the environment and bad for you
Star rating: **
Prices vary, but we reckon you can buy a good bike and the kit needed to make it as safe as possible for no more than €500, and if you buy it under the bike to work scheme then it will only cost you half that. Anyone who lives within 10km of their place of work will spend at least €20 a week on commuting if they drive or take public transport. A cyclist spends virtually nothing. And remember that people who cycle every day live years longer than those who don’t. You will get wet sometimes – but not as often as you think – and you will get from A to B faster than almost all the other forms of commuting. There is a danger your bike will be stolen and you are vulnerable in busy traffic, but the same can be said for scooting, walking and driving.
Star rating: * * * * *