Friday, May 6, 2011
The Ultimate Fuel-Efficient Vehicle
Last year, I wrote about my intention to walk occasionally to my second-shift job. That idea worked for a few weeks, until we went on vacation and I hurt my knee doing so much touristy walking. (My knee is great that way. I can dance competitively and spend the weekends hauling compost to the garden, but it will balk at too much low speed walking. Go figure.) That was the end of the walks to work for the summer.
The walk is nice, but there was another reason that it wasn't working as well as I would have liked: it took about a half hour each way on the mile and half trip. This meant that I needed to find an extra hour in my schedule on days I wanted to walk, which philosophically shouldn't be a problem, but in reality meant that I couldn't walk on days that I planned to leave work at 5:30 and be at a dance class at 6:00, for instance. It also limited the distance I could "commute" by walking. I could make it to the college, but it wasn't terribly realistic to walk to the grocery store that is less than a mile further on, then make a 45 minute trek back home carrying a bag of frozen food.
Enter my new bike! Those of you who live in biking-friendly communities already know how absolutely cool it is to do your local errands by bicycle, but Midwest suburbs are not particularly known for creating an environment that encourages biking. I understand that; these suburbs are built to be fairly spacious, and bike paths and bike lanes cost money, but it means you have to get creative about your routes. I actually sat and read Ohio law until I was confident that I was OK riding on the sidewalks.
Anyway, the biking is working out beautifully when it is not raining, which has not been very often recently. However, every day that it is 60 or above and I need to go to the college or grocery for a few things, I ride. Since those two errands constitute about 50% of my time driving a car, I'm substituting a little bit of fresh air and emissions-free exercise for the cost of gas and wear on my precious, almost-but-not-quite-a-classic car.
Fast: It takes about 5 minutes to drive to the college, with most of that being taken up backing out of the driveway and parking once I get there. It takes 10 minutes to bike, with 7 minutes of that being actual ride time. (Yes, I timed it.) Even on the busiest days, I can find an extra 5 minutes on each leg of the trip so that I can bike.
Cheap: The last time I was at the gas station, gas was $4.14, so a 3-mile round trip saves me 52 cents. It will be a long time to pay for my bike this way (which was $165, including the snazzy basket, bell, and water-bottle holder). However, this is more about the principle of the thing.
Good: I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying the little mental break that biking affords me. I put my iPhone in the bottom of my basket with the volume at full blast so I can hear a little bit of music while I ride, and I take off and enjoy the scenery. It is a good lifestyle improvement, and I think this one will stick.
Posted by Jennifer Lorenzetti at 9:42 AM