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The cost-saving benefits of cycling during the cost-of-living crisis | UK cycling

12 December 2023

Written by Katie Rollin

|  5 Minutes

Icon indicating that transport costs have risen

Increased energy bills and rising inflation have raised the cost of living in the UK. Transport is responsible for significant monthly outgoings for most Brits, with the predicted average cost of £112 per month in 2023. In fact, 70% of Brits said that travel costs had increased and 40% considered changing transport options as a result (ALA, 2022).

One of the most significant changes that could save money on transport costs is to switch to cycling or walking. Not only will you save money cycling to and from work, but you can help to reduce air pollution in your city and lower your carbon footprint. Daily physical activity is also excellent for your health, and you may even find that cycling is more convenient than driving in your city.

Here, we will cover how much it really costs to cycle in the UK and how much you could save by cycling compared to driving or public transport. We also address some barriers to cycling that a person might face and the importance of cycling insurance, especially for frequent cyclists.

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How much does it cost to travel by bike?

It costs very little to cycle day-to-day because your bicycle uses no fuel (unless it’s electric), you rarely have to pay for parking, and you are never taxed or charged for cycling in the city, even in an ultra low emission zone. Here, we explore what cyclists need to pay for.

  • Safety accessories & tools – you will need a cycle helmet, bike lights, reflective gear and a secure bicycle lock. You may want to purchase some cycle tools to save money on maintenance, but this would incur an additional upfront cost. You may only need to buy these items once (unless stolen, lost or damaged).
  • Maintenance – depending on how much you use your bike, you will need servicing every 3-18 months, which can cost £30-£160. If you use your bike professionally, maintenance will be more expensive. However, the average commuter will need to spend less on maintenance (around £90 per year – three basic services per year).
  • Repairs/replacement – if something happens to your bike and you need to repair or replace it, this can sometimes come at a significant cost without insurance.
  • Unexpected costs – unexpected cycling costs could include needing a temporary replacement bike, public liability costs or legal fees. Without specialist bicycle insurance, unexpected cycling costs could be significant.
  • Insurance – Insurance can cost from £21 per year with ALA, which can help to cover your investment if you are concerned by unexpected cycling costs or accidental damage or theft.

Icon to describe that people have started to cycle more as a result of rising costs

Cycling may cost you as little as £7.50 per month for running costs (excluding one-off purchases); while the cost of insurance will vary, the average standard ALA Cycle Insurance policy starts at £6.75 per month. In fact, 40% of cyclists have decided to cycle more to save on transport costs (ALA, 2022).

How much money could you save by cycling?

Nonetheless, significant savings can be made by switching to sustainable transport such as cycling as your primary transport. Here, we explore how much money you could save by making the switch.

How much money can you save by Cycling instead of driving?

The vast majority commute less than 10 miles to work, so considering average fuel consumption for a 1.4l, car journeys cost on average £17.00 per week for 10 miles to work and back (petrol cost only). Additional costs include parking, toll roads, congestion charge, maintenance, road tax and MOT. Experts conclude that it costs £250 per month to run a car (including the cost of insurance).

Icon to describe that some people choose to cycle to save money

Does cycling cost less than public transport?

On average, Brits spend £6.80 per week on public transport, which is more favourable than driving. However, commuting on public transport in London can cost around £23-38.5 per week based on TFL fare caps in the city (Zone 1). Cycling in London Boroughs could save you 85-92% on transport costs. Even those commuting outside of London will spend twice as much as those who cycle.

Possible disadvantages of cycling

Cycling to work in the UK is not the easiest option. Here, we explore some reasons you may choose not to cycle.

Icon to describe the possible dangers to cyclists - the top reason to avoid the activity

Safety concerns

The number one reason Brits choose not to cycle is the worry that cycling on UK roads is unsafe. According to the UK Government, cyclists are among the most vulnerable road users. However, there is safety in numbers. Cycle accidents have been declining over the years, and getting Cycle Insurance may give you greater peace of mind over accidental damage or theft.

Not having a bike

One primary reason not to cycle is not owning a bike and perhaps not believing a bicycle is worth it. However, switching to cycling in the UK can save you enough money to get a complete return on your investment within months. For subsidised cycles, use the Cycle to Work Scheme if this is available to you. Finally, if you are worried about protecting your new bike, you may want to consider taking out insurance and paying monthly to help with cash flow.

Weather conditions

We are all aware the UK weather can be unforgiving, and although you’ll warm up when pedalling, the idea of cycling to work in torrential rain or frost is not pleasant. Unfortunately, insurance can’t protect you from the weather. However, investing in good quality cycling equipment and waterproof clothing can make cycling in the winter months more tolerable. Cycling accessories can even be insured for up to £900 with ALA; you can also get peace of mind with your cycling gear.

Why do you need insurance for your bike?

Bicycle insurance is not necessary in the UK; however, it can help protect your investment and avoid any financial implications from unexpected cycling costs. Two-thirds of cyclists are uninsured, and many are unaware that this cover is available (ALA, 2022).

Icon describes that only one in three cyclists are insured

Standard Cycle Insurance from ALA covers accidental damage, malicious damage and theft; we also cover you for 30 consecutive days outside the UK. Additional coverage options include Accessory Cover for your cycling gear, and Cycle Hire Replacement, for your temporary bike (if yours is being repaired/replaced). We also offer Public Liability and legal fee coverage, in addition to Personal Injury compensation, should the worst happen.

The average ALA policy costs from £6.75 per month and is entirely buildable to suit your cycling needs; your quote will depend on your cycle value, you chosen excess and any additional coverage options you want. You can save 50-94% on transport costs by cycling, including cycle insurance costs.

Build your policy and get a quote today!

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