Yesterday a friend informed me that she's purchased a Schwinn bicycle, and she's loving it. It looks like this:
We talked bicycles for a bit, and she said her father once did a value exercise: he figured out how much we paid per pound for bicycle technology, then contrasted that with the per pound price of automobile technology. Strictly on this basis alone, the car is a vastly better value.
Here's how this exercise works in my circumstances, in Canadian dollars: the sticker price for a new Toyota Yaris is $14,995. Its curbside weight is roughly 2,080 lbs. That works out to about $7.20 per lb.
The sticker price for a new Fisher HKEK is $1,299 (Cdn). Let's say it weighs 50 lbs (bearing in mind it's probably a shade lighter). That's a value of $26 per lb.
Of course, the sticker price is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to automotive costs: it doesn't take long for gas to add up, and were we to keep our car for 20 years it's likely the cost of maintenance would exceed the sticker price. Still, if we contrast the resources that are poured into a car's manufacture vs. that of a bicycle's, this is quite a staggering disparity. (Tangential note: using the Inflation Calculator, the bicycle I bought for $900 twenty years ago ought to cost me $1600 today. So it could be argued that bicycle values are improving, albeit very slowly.)