Having a bike to ride my entire life has helped me get around everywhere. Since just before my move Toronto, it's been my default option for commuting around, saving me hours of time and thousands of dollars -- not from not owning a car -- from public transportation! If I took the subway each time I used a bike, the most economical option would be a monthly pass. These climbed from $108 when I first moved out, to when last in Toronto at $138 (about 4-5 years time). At an average price of $122/month, over 48 months, total transit costs would equal $5856. Assume I purchase a monthly pass 3 months of the year X 4 years for a total of 12 monthly passes. This still means I saved $3400 (not including the odd taxi fare each month).
In Tianjin, taking a taxi is much cheaper when comparing dollar/km, and not accounting for relative costs of living here and in Toronto. However, having to pay 40¥ simply to get downtown and back eats up 80% of my daily budget (you get live on a surprisingly little amount of money here)! As a result doing a bunch of inexpensive things downtown not viable as cost of access (the taxi ride) renders them uneconomical when all costs considered vs daily budget. This makes days off challenging as it limits exploring to a significantly reduced travel radius. This confinement is also having an affect on my writing creativity for my blog and reduces my cultural exposure
Last summer, back in Toronto, a friend came over and showed me his electric scooter (or e-bike). Loving the Bixi/Bike Share Toronto program I subscribed to for 5 consecutive years (at $99/year for unlimted 30 minute travel), and logged several thousand rides, and many more kilometres, I never paid much attention to electric scooters. My friend convinced to me take it for a spin on the road way behind the building -- I was instantly in love! With my interest in the environment at its peak, and an appreciation for electric transportation thanks to Elon Musk, I was impressed by its instant response to "jumping on the gas" or should I say "current"? The bike effortlessly brought me up to 50km/hr within seconds, and his battery model would whisk him around for an astounding 75km!
Had I not moved to China, I likely would have started considering one for purchase... But alas, the destination has changed -- the consideration hasn't!
A buddy here just purchased one the other week. He's one of the guys who lives downtown with the other expats. Each day, they take a taxi to work and back and share the cost. Last night, a group of us went for Korean BBQ and Ian drove us over on his electric scooter. As per the test drive last summer, it was a blast and astoundingly economical.
He purchased his scooter for 2,500¥ ($500). It has nice lights, a big comfortable seat for two people, handles well and has great acceleration! It's a no-brainer, distances to POI's are within the range, especially since it can be charged up easily, is really fun to drive, keeps up with, and sometimes is faster than, traffic, next to zero maintenance, and no additional costs (insurance, fuel etc.).
Currently, I use a taxi at least twice a week at a cost of 28¥-45¥, round trip, with an average of 72¥/week. Assuming small travel would increase to at least double equal to the current taxi cost per week, making weekly travel costs valued at 144¥ and drivable weeks estimated to be 41-43 weeks per year (based on weather data). 144¥ * 42 weeks = 6048¥. Lets take off 1000¥ as a broad guess when a taxi would still be required (go to airport, train station, rainy weather etc.). This still leaves 5048¥ in projected transportation costs. The ebike price of 2500¥ is under half the total transportation costs, allowing for a large margin of error on taxi fares while and still have significant transportation savings. Furthermore, knowing I won't be able to take Chinese class on one of my weekly trips downtown (for yoga), I'd have to make regular third weekly trip downtown. Assuming the additional travel mentioned above, the bike saves me even more, and the additional day of going downtown only shortens the break even period.
Being in chat groups where expats regularly sell items as they arrive and leave the city (myself included), I know the bike can be resold. Ian said he expects to get approximately 1500¥ back for it next summer when he leaves the city with his partner. Considering these assumptions, I could save half my travel costs, while doubling local travel, and recoup ~50% of my upfront costs back! I'll also be checking the expat group if someone is selling one. Getting a ebike at 1500¥ would be a steal and simply double/half my aforementioned projections.