I got rid of my car 12 years ago, and relied on transit and bikes. When we had our first kid 7 years ago, we got a bakfiet-style bike (a Cetma Margo). It was $3500 including shipping & taxes. We got it when kid #1 was around 4 months old. The reason we went with that bike instead of a longtail was for weather protection (it came with a rain cover) and because it could fit an infant seat. I’ve always hated trailers (after hitting numerous trail bollards and weird curb cuts), so I didn’t trust hauling around a kid in one of those.
We used that bike for 5-6 years. We live in Seattle, which has pretty awful public transit (it’s slowly getting better as light rail stations come online) and tons of hills. Without that bike, we definitely would have needed a car. I’m not sure what type, but I’d conservatively estimate that the bike saved us at least $40,000. I also do bike repairs myself, which makes it even cheaper.
Then we had kid #2, and kid #1 started kindergarten at the local elementary school. The elementary school is at the top of a massive hill, and we’re on the steep side of the hill. We could bike to the other side of the hill and go up, but in reality what we ended up doing (because we were always late) was just biking to the bottom of the hill and walking up the last 2 blocks. That got old reeeeeeeeal quick, so we upgraded…
I tried having the local cargo bike shop adding a motor to the Cetma, but it was uncomfortable and the frame flexed. So we returned the motor and rented a couple different e-assist bikes. The Packster 80 was my favorite, so we bought one of those. It was very expensive ($8800 after taxes), but I got all the bells and whistles - dual-battery version, etc. It’s incredible, I love it so much. We’ve been using that for the past year. The Cetma’s been sitting in the garage.
My regular road bike is a fixie. I still like the simplicity of that machine, but for hauling 2 kids + random stuff around hilly Seattle, the Packster is amazing.
We’re moving to NYC in a few months, and we’re probably going to sell the Cetma and take the Packster with us. I’m a bit nervous about having such an expensive bike in the city (and NYPD’s ridiculous anti-ebike crusade), but we’ll see how it goes.
Math: 6 years of no car at $9k/yr = $54k. The two bikes cost $12.3k, and I expect to get at least $2k back when I sell the Cetma. The Cetma maintainance was super cheap; brake pads, chain, and lube every once in a while; probably on the order of $100/year. The Packster is proving to be a bit more expensive in that regard. Probably because of the eassist, it goes through brake pads A LOT faster, and I’ve already destroyed a disc brake rotor. I’ve only had the Packster for a year, but so far it’s been like $300-$400 in maintenance.