I am a bicycle rider. Because of a bad hip, I can’t ride as far and wide as I once did, but I do ride all of the time around Brighton.

As a proud Italian American, I have three very special Italian racing bikes, which I affectionately refer to as my Ferraris with a Volkswagen engine. Anyway, as I have been riding around this season, it has become clear to me that there are many more
“older people" (I can say that because I am 70) walking their dogs than ever before. Surprisingly, many of them are large dogs. I wondered if it was just another one of my senior moments, or whether I was on to something, so I did some research.

According to goodnewsforpets.com (yes, that’s right), a decade ago, 34 percent of adults in the 70-plus age group owned pets. In 2015 and 2016, the percentage jumped to around 40 percent, so it appears that my observations have been validated. One explanation is that there are significant health benefits of pet ownership for our aging population. There seems to be agreement that today, for elderly pet owners — especially those who live alone or in group facilities — pets can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and increase social interaction and physical activity.

However, any benefits have to be evaluated, not only in terms of the day-to-day logistics, but also the costs, because, as we have discussed in this column, pet ownership can be expensive, especially if you see yourself as a “pet parent” as opposed to a pet owner.

On a different subject, the losses resulting from hurricanes Harvey and Irma have been devastating, and I don’t want to diminish those losses in any way. However, some of their effects have brought to mind a number of recent news reports. Harvey has resulted in the close-down of some major oil refineries, and that has increased gasoline prices in the Northeast. That reminded me of some recent reports on the average costs of maintaining a motor vehicle, which may surprise some of our readers.

As I am writing this column, according to GasBuddy.com, the average price for a gallon of gasoline in Rochester, New York is $2.77 per gallon, up from about $2.30 a gallon about a month ago. Even still, it is almost a dollar less than this time in 2015. The cost of gasoline is certainly a major component of the average annual cost of maintaining a motor vehicle, but let’s look into the other costs and the differences among vehicles.

This should get your attention — it got mine. According to the American Automobile Association’s newsroom.aaa.com, the average new vehicle will cost nearly $8,500 annually to own and operate. That is a little over $700 a month for you to build into your budget. The average cost numbers differ of course from vehicle to vehicle, but they include not only the monthly payments, but also, depreciation, fuel costs, regular maintenance and repairs.

First, here are the average annual costs for some popular models: small sedan ($6,354), small SUV ($7,606), hybrid ($7,687), electric vehicle ($8,439), minivan ($9,146), medium SUV ($9,461), and pickup truck ($10,054).

As for those fuel costs, AAA estimated an average fuel cost of about 10 cents per mile (3.68 cents for electric vehicles, and 13.88 cents for pickup trucks), or about $1,500 annually. As we have reported in the past in this column, using a higher grade fuel than recommended is an unnecessary expense, but you should use a good quality gasoline.

When it comes to depreciation, AAA reports that na ew vehicle will depreciate in value and average of $15,000 over the first five years (annually, $2114 for small sedans, $3839 for minivans, and $5,704 for electric vehicles).

Finally, AAA estimated that the average cost of maintenance and repair is $1,186. However, if you own one of those expensive foreign cars — good luck with that.

Next time: the best places to retire, and the Equifax hack, after the dust clears a little. By the way, according to WalletHub.com, before Irma, the top 15 places to retire included five cities in Florida.

John Ninfo is a retired bankruptcy judge and the founder of the National CARE Financial Literacy Program. Find his previous weekly columns at http://www.mpnnow.com/search?text=Ninfo or at http://www.monroecopost.com/search?text=Ninfo