We will talk about how many miles they would be riding, where they will go, and what, besides themselves, that they would be carrying. They are typically blown away when I tell them how much to expect to pay for the kind of bike they would need for their life. This is when I tell them that for an upright, multi-speed, urban bike with a rack will be about $500.
That's not a small amount of money, but for a reliable and easy method of transportation, it is amazingly cheap. My bike, a Jamis Aurora, that I bought early in 2015 cost me about $900 (I get a discount with many local shops for being a Bicycle Coalition Member). This is certainly not a small purchase, but I have very large expectations for that bike named Rory.
Just so far this year I have ridden 3,870 miles with Rory, which is mostly commuting from home to class, work, or my internship. This means that Rory has cost about 23 cents per mile so far. But as I continue to put more miles on Rory, that cost per mile will continue to drop. Just at the end of 2016, with all the miles I expect to ride, Rory will have cost 8 cents per mile.
$500 is a lot of money for a lot of people. I completely understand that, becuase it's a lot for me too, especially if you consider a bike a toy. But if you treat it as your primary transportation, you are actually saving yourself a lot of money. Here in Philadelphia, a year of just-in-city public transportation costs $1092, and owning a car in the US costs $8,698 a year and comes to 58 cents per mile. With all of that considered, the $500 for a bike that will last years, and cost maybe $100 in maintenance per year, doesn't seem so high.
Thank you for your support.