Pros and Cons of Cars vs. Bikes


  • Pros:
    • Can travel long distances;
    • Requires little effort to drive;
    • Can be very comfortable to ride;
    • Control of environment for passengers – temperature, noise, smells, sunlight, sounds (music), lighting, shelter from precipitation and wind;
    • Can be used to carry typically 5 passengers;
    • Can carry moderate loads.
  • Cons:
    • Uses fuel to run;
    • Produces large amounts of heat;
    • Produces pollution and greenhouse gases if fueled by gasoline;
    • Very heavy requiring motor/engine to run and causing road wear;
    • Relatively large requiring wide roads and parking spaces;
    • Causes high number of serious injuries and fatalities and associated burden on society;
    • Limited view of surroundings;
    • Expensive to buy;
    • Expensive to run: fuel, maintenance, insurance, license and registration fees;
    • Requires the utilization of resources to build, fuel, and for road infrastructure;
    • Major source of traffic congestion;
    • Often difficult to find convenient nearby parking;
    • Overall economic impact in term of personal expenses, environmental impact, and taxes are considerable.

Bicycles (including 3 and 4 wheel cycles):-

  • Pros:
    • Require no fuel to run;
    • Produce no heat;
    • Produce no pollution or greenhouse gases;
    • Very light resulting in almost no road wear;
    • Small taking up almost no room for roads and very little parking space;
    • Cause few serious injuries and almost no fatalities;
    • Relatively inexpensive to buy even for a very high end bike;
    • Cost almost nothing to run and maintain;
    • Uses very little materials to build;
    • Excellent source of exercise helping to reduce obesity and diabetes;
    • Does not cause traffic congestion;
    • Brings the rider close to nature and ones surroundings;
    • Easy to find convenient nearby parking;
    • Overall economic impact in terms of personal expenses, environmental impact, and taxes are negligible.
  • Cons:
    • Limited range typically 10 miles (though much longer distances can be achieved);
    • Requires effort to run (but good exercise);
    • Less comfortable to ride than a car;
    • Little protection from the weather.  There are bikes with protective shells but they are still somewhat open to the environment at the bottom;
    • Typically limited to on person or 2 people.  Some bicycles with 3 wheels can carry 3-4 riders;
    • More limited carrying capacity.  With trailer attachments can carry light loads.  However there are special purpose cycles capable of carrying heavy and large loads including RV cycles.

The primary advantages of cars are range and comfort.  However bicycles utilize few resources, provide a good source of exercise, and are sustainable as a city grows into the distant future without creating traffic congestion and dangerous roads.

If I have missed anything significant please Comment about it.  Thank you.

About Frank Geefay

Sustainable Bicycle and Smart Growth Advocate
This entry was posted in Considerations and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Pros and Cons of Cars vs. Bikes

  1. Pingback: Car-Centricity | Biking Cupertino

  2. Kelly S says:

    What about electric pedal-assist bicycles? Greater range, faster speed (unless you’re a super athlete) and easier for people that may have knee issues that would make riding a normal bike difficult.
    Cons are that they can be a bit heavy, and you have to charge the batteries. They’re still WAY cheaper to run than a car though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Frank G says:

      Thank you for your comment. I own 3 bikes, one being a fordable electrical Pedal-assist bicycle and it is great for going up hills that we have near my house. It greatly extends my range and helps me get started at stop signs and signal lights. One charge last quite a long time as long as I do most of the pedaling. A agree with you that these bikes are great though a bit heavy when folding and putting into the back of my car.


  3. Pingback: The Case for Safer Bicycle Lanes | Biking Cupertino

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