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People turn pedals to save money on commute

Posted May 7, 2008
Updated May 8, 2008

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— At the pump, gas prices rose Wednesday for the first time in a week. The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is about $3.62.

“Takes a chunk out of your check,” Mark Tull said about spending more than $50 to fill up his truck's tank.

The rising cost of gas is fueling a boom in bicycle sales.

“It's a plus for us,” said Chuck Nelson, of All-Star Bike Shops. “It seems to be partially related to people riding their bikes more to get around and not just for pleasure."

Mark Tull is among Triangle commuters looking to pedal away from the pump.

“I work locally. I live locally. So, I can get around (by bike) to most places, grocery store, my job, within 15 minutes,” Tull said.

The average commute to work is about four to six miles.

“Two and a half miles one way,” Richard Mowat said of his commute.

Mowat is ahead of the bike boom. He has commuted to work by bicycle for more than 30 years.

“The goal was to find a house that was in commuting distance,” he added.

As for Tull, he just relocated back to Raleigh. Making his paycheck stretch is a priority, he said, and riding his bike helps with that.

“The way gas prices are, anytime I can get around (by bike), weather permitting, it's a much better way,” Tull said.

Industry figures show 19 million bikes were sold over the past 12 months in the U.S. That is close to the 20 million sold during the oil embargo in the early 1970s.

Bike To Work Week is May 12-16. Smart Commute has several events planned in the Triangle for cyclists.


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  • Southern Fried Yankee May 8, 2008

    Now if they's just make a bike with four wheels, a windshield, roof, doors, comfortable seat, 50hp engine, air conditioning, radio, and cup holder....................oh, and sell it for about $8,000.

  • homebrewer May 8, 2008

    "The drivers in this town will run you over if you ride a bicycle. My life is worth more than gas."
    Amen to that. I have a bike but it will never see the likes of Falls, Six Forks, or any other roads that I would need to take in the morning. Too many distracted drivers, and the roads are not designed for cars to be able to safely go around them. If I cause everybody to slow down then while I am saving money they are using more fuel to try and accelerate around me.
    Get a motorcycle. You can keep up with traffic and have the same maneuverability as a bike. At 50+ mpg you are not breaking the bank either. Oh and insurance for a year on mine is what I spend for a month on my car.

  • eric52272 May 8, 2008

    i don't walk across the street....i say burn it up while we still have it

  • Rob E. May 8, 2008

    But I do take Mr. Iowa's point that you shouldn't exaggerate the saving. I'm all for biking for a number of reasons, but bike-commuting is not the same as living car-free. If you could sell your car, you could buy a bike with money left over and be in the black from the get-go, but that's not realistic for most people. Most people will still need a car with the associated taxes and insurance, so for them savings would be slower to appear. Even if you drop from two cars to one, you still need to insure two people. But if you make a commitment to bike, you should recoup your losses eventually. And if you make a point to bike instead of drive whenever you can, you'll save that much more quickly. A twenty mile commute might not be reasonable for most people, but what about those last 4 miles after you get off the freeway? The opportunities are there for most people, and, if gas prices continue to rise, I expect we'll see more and more people taking advantage of those opportunities.

  • Rob E. May 8, 2008

    Mr. Iowa's point is well-taken, but there's more to factor in. Sure, the article mentions buying a new bike, but many people have a bike gathering dust in their garage that could be a useful commuter with less than a tank's worth of gas money. For those people the savings would be almost instantaneous. Also savings based on current gas prices might not be accurate if gas is going to continue to rise. And, speaking from experience, once you start biking to work, you may also start biking other places. I bike for transportation, I bike for recreation. If I bike downtown on the weekend, that's money I'm not spending on gas and not spending otherwise entertaining myself. For some that would also be money not spent at the gym. I haven't given up my car, but the wear and tear and maintenance is way down, and the amount of time before I need a new car is probably less dependent on how much I drive it as it is on how fast it rusts. It's not always a straight $s/gallon to bike cost conversion.

  • ifcdirector May 8, 2008

    The drivers in this town will run you over if you ride a bicycle. My life is worth more than gas.

  • Tin Nutt May 8, 2008

    Dont just think about cost savings either - riding a bike instead of driving is patriotic. Every time you ride your bike that is less money going to terrorist sponsoring countries, Hugo Chavez, etc. Bike commuters are freedom fighters!

  • Shadow213 May 8, 2008

    i would ride my bike to work any day-- but my commute is beltline and i40 to rtp. maybe one day we'll get the greenway to go out there from inside the beltine :-)

  • Rolling Along May 8, 2008

    PaintHorseMares...but they are EXPENSIVE...been there done that.

  • PaintHorseMares May 8, 2008

    Try riding a horse...they are even more versatile than bicycles.