5 Cheap Transportation Alternatives to Cars

5 Cheap Transportation Alternatives to Cars

•  3 minute read

Why drive when you can save money and have fun? Check out these cheap transportation alternatives!

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.

ProsConsJoysPains
Low cost to buy and operateInconvenient to transport by carMusclesMuscles
Easy to lock up once you’ve reached your destinationIt’s easy to go out of control and keep upgrading to better and faster bikesExercise and the “runner’s high” you getCan get stolen easier than a car
Low impact on the environmentParking 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.

ProsConsJoysPains
Can bike long distances, even while tiredExpensive relative to a traditional bicycleFun for you and for anyone you let try it outMore invested so if it gets stolen, it’s that much more painful
No sweatMore things to breakBeing able to just cruiseDowning the bike can be painful, since it’s kind of heavy
Can easily pull a bike trailer with groceries, children — you name itHeavier and less nimble than a regular bikePedal 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.

ProsConsJoysPains
Low costSlowThe sound they makeEasily getting stereotyped as a punk
Easy to transport when not in useDoing tricksGetting 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.

ProsConsJoysPains
FastExpensiveFun to ride and to let others rideExpensive. Needs to be said again.
Generally good range — especially for campusesHard to lock up when not in useNo sweatWhen 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.

ProsConsJoysPains
Great for indoorsPoor for uneven surfaces and the outdoors because it’s slow and breakableDoing donuts on themYou move slowly
Relatively low priceCheap plastic designNever having to walk againThe startup sound can be annoying
Compact designMay catch fireA burning sensation when it catches fire