Biking and Budgets: Saving (and Making) Money on Two Wheels in Oakland
NewInTown · September 11, 2015 ·
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We all know the various benefits of bicycling: health, convenience, decreasing environmental damage and, of course, saving money. They all matter, and as a new resident in an increasingly expensive city, spending as little as possible on transportation can definitely help.

Below we’ve outlined some cost-effective benefits of biking in and around Oakland, as well as a few options to even make money cycling in the Bay.


The cost of a minimum ride on BART is currently $1.85 and $2.10 on AC Transit, and while this relatively small amount may get you from home to work, it definitely adds up (especially if you’re doing daily round-trips). A round-trip BART ride between 12th St. Oakland City Center and MacArthur is $3.70. And if this is your method to and from your place of employment, you’re looking at $18.50 weekly and $74 monthly (five rides a week, twenty a month). This monthly total is no joke, and the yearly cost is almost $900. So while using BART for this daily commute may seem fast, it certainly isn’t free.

Now, that same trip on your bike is just over two miles one-way, and at an average speed will take less than twenty minutes. If you factor in waiting for your train, stops, and getting in and out of the station, BART might not even be that much faster. There’s nearly an additional grand in your yearly savings and your legs look like Michelangelo carved them from stone. It’s almost like saving money on a gym membership. Win-win.


As of September 2015, the current annual average price for a gallon of gas in Oakland is $3.15. That’s almost the cost of your daily round-trip on Bart right there, not to mention pollution, yearly car insurance/trips to the mechanic, and parking meters. The average parking meter hourly rate in Oakland is $2 an hour, assuming you can find a spot, certainly not a viable option if you’re paying metered parking for a nine-hour day at work. And if your meter expires? The City of Oakland website lists the expired meter fine at $58. If you’re caught parking in a residential parking permit zone, the fine is $83. Five outstanding parking tickets and on the sixth offense your car gets booted.

A decent U-lock and cable combo will run you anywhere from $50 to $120, depending on the quality and brand, and if you’re locking your bike in a populated area during the daytime and storing it safely at night, your chances of being a victim of theft are significantly lowered. Bike parking at the myriad city-constructed lock-up racks around the city is, of course, free, and many businesses even offer their own secure and enclosed parking areas. By riding whenever possible and the occasional use of BART or AC Transit, a car in the East Bay is by no means a necessity, and local car rental businesses are there for the occasional trip to the furniture store (i.e. Zipcar).


For the hardcore cyclists, Oakland and the surrounding area even offers employment options based on two wheels. Here are a few for those of you who just can’t get enough cycling:

Food delivery service in the Bay Area with bike delivery positions available.

East Bay bike messenger company.

Deliveries and messages delivered locally by bikes.

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