5 Cheap Transportation Alternatives to Cars
Let me start by saying that I love cars. I love driving them, working on them, reading about them — everything. But what I don’t love is how expensive cars are and how they’re kind of horrible at getting you around town. For certain trips, cars are handy. But most often, I find it more fun and frugal to use cheap transportation alternatives.
In fact, I can sometimes go a month without using my car to get around town. That feels good. It’s hard to justify driving a 3,000-pound car 10 blocks to buy a can of chickpeas for my humus. That’s just too ridiculously wasteful. Here are the transportation alternatives that I prefer instead:
1. A Trusty Ol’ Bicycle
Bicycles are fun and cheap. Plus, you get exercise as a nice bonus. For me, I find it kind of hard to have fun while driving a car in the city. There’s just no room on the roads. But on a bike, I’m only limited by my muscle size. Flying down a tree-lined bike path at 20 mph is pretty exhilarating.
|Low cost to buy and operate||Inconvenient to transport by car||Muscles||Muscles|
|Easy to lock up once you’ve reached your destination||It’s easy to go out of control and keep upgrading to better and faster bikes||Exercise and the “runner’s high” you get||Can get stolen easier than a car|
|Low impact on the environment||Parking close to building entrances|
|Can cover fairly long distances|
2. An Electric Bicycle
I once met a guy who owns the oldest electric vehicle blog on the internet. He let me ride four of his bikes, ranging in price from $800 to “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” That latter bike, he said, was designed for Russian special forces.
I loved riding each bike. The torque feels like you’re riding in a Tesla (I rode in a Model S for about 30 minutes once).
Seriously, if you live in a hot climate or want to bike long distances, get an electric bike. You can even convert a conventional bike into an electric one for less than $1,000. It sounds like a lot of money, but you’ll have it paid off in no time, since you’ll be driving your car less. Range and speeds vary, but you will not be disappointed.
|Can bike long distances, even while tired||Expensive relative to a traditional bicycle||Fun for you and for anyone you let try it out||More invested so if it gets stolen, it’s that much more painful|
|No sweat||More things to break||Being able to just cruise||Downing the bike can be painful, since it’s kind of heavy|
|Can easily pull a bike trailer with groceries, children — you name it||Heavier and less nimble than a regular bike||Pedal only when you want to|
3. A Skateboard
I don’t have a lot of experience riding skateboards, but I know a longboard is good for commuting. I know people who do this — it’s just not my style. Although I do want to buy a skateboard to take it with me when I travel. I will strap it to my carry-on and ride it for short distances. It’s more fun and faster than walking.
|Low cost||Slow||The sound they make||Easily getting stereotyped as a punk|
|Easy to transport when not in use||Doing tricks||Getting hurt trying to do the aforementioned tricks|
4. Electric Skateboards
Electric skateboards seem awesome. Heck, anything electric seems awesome to me. The most famous electric skateboard is the Boosted Board. Their cheapest model is $999. It has a top speed of 18 mph and a range of eight miles.
There are several other cheaper electric skateboards available, but they can still get expensive. If you’re handy, you can DIY an electric skateboard for around $300. It’s a little fiddly, though.
|Fast||Expensive||Fun to ride and to let others ride||Expensive. Needs to be said again.|
|Generally good range — especially for campuses||Hard to lock up when not in use||No sweat||When you crash, it’s like being thrown from a car.|
|Big liability if it gets stolen|
5. The Infamous Hoverboard
When I Googled “hoverboard,” the first thing to pop up was a news story about how they can explode. Explosions are exciting news, so I believe the whole “hoverboards exploding” thing was a bit exaggerated. Like when Tesla got heat for having a few cars catch fire. This too shall pass.
Hoverboards are cool. You’ve probably seen them at malls. You can usually find them for about $150 and up. They’re good for small campuses or anywhere indoors. But for city navigation, they’re slow, with a top speed of only six miles per hour. That said, it has a decent range: 12 miles.
|Great for indoors||Poor for uneven surfaces and the outdoors because it’s slow and breakable||Doing donuts on them||You move slowly|
|Relatively low price||Cheap plastic design||Never having to walk again||The startup sound can be annoying|
|Compact design||May catch fire||A burning sensation when it catches fire|