Neighbors: Cycling for Dollars---Slashing the Cost of Travel!

Jul 23, 2008

Once upon a time—one year ago, in fact—a Poplar Bluff man bought a bicycle in the hope of getting a bit of exercise.

Little did he know that his purchase, along with a recent move to a new job, would position him in the best way possible for the economic nosedive the nation entered several months back. “I did buy a bike for fitness, and so I could ride it to work sometimes,” he recalls. “At the time, it was five miles, one way—doable.”

The bike is, as he explains it, “a 15-speed hybrid…a cross between a mountain bike and a street bike. It’s got tires for riding on the street, so it’s really common for commuters to use”. He adds that, though he paid $500 locally for this particular model, “similar bikes can be had for less”.

The sudden leap in fuel prices got our hero to thinking about making his new toy pay for itself by using it to cut transit costs. And when an unexpected job opportunity resulted in his coming to work only a mile away from home, he became all the more determined to cycle the distance.

“I’m hoping to get to the point very quickly where the only time I drive my car to work is when it’s raining,“ he states, adding that walking to work is now an option as well.

What is this man’s basic take on our national fuel drama? “Over the years,” he begins, “we’ve developed a lot of bad habits. And the war in the Middle East certainly hasn’t helped…And for years now, we’ve been buying bigger and bigger vehicles, which is wonderful if you have a cheap source of gas…”

As it happens, there are no huge vehicles to cope with or get rid of in his family’s case: “We’ve always just preferred smaller cars,” says he. But now that he’s all fixed up with his own alternative transport, he notes, his wife has been “admiring those motorized little electric scooters, so she may be thinking along similar lines”.

Has the Jessica Fletcher routine resulted in major razzing from co-workers for our new cyclist? “Everybody thinks it’s great,” says he. “They’re all pretty impressed.”

When asked how the U.S. lifestyle might be transformed by the current economic picture, this information technology specialist has these thoughts to share: “I think you’re going to see fewer people living outside of town. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but it’ll be an economic necessity, as people need to move closer to where their jobs are.

“So I think you’re going to see fewer outlying communities, and more people living in the cities.”

He hopes to see more transportation options being pursued in due course. “I won’t be holding my breath for the first Poplar Bluff light rail system; I’m not sure we could support that.

“But I think maybe expanded bus service…And I’m seeing people carpooling already.”

So for one man, it all started with a simple fitness goal; eventually, a new work situation—and a bleak economic picture—gave him even greater zeal for the objective, as he was now able to equate burning calories with concrete financial rewards.

What a neat feeling, especially now, to know that every single mile pedaled or walked, for greater vigor and strength, literally winds up being money in your pocket!

Now, that looks like something we could all take to the bank!

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