Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Alternative to the Gas Tax Holiday

Day 224
Home Base to Golden and Back
Time: 2:43:08
Distance: 28.28 mi
Avg Speed: 10.4 mph
Terrain: Front Range Foothills
Location: American Alpine Club

There has been a lot of press lately regarding the price of fuel. Senator John McCain has proposed suspending the federal gas tax from Memorial Day to Labor Day to give drivers a break during the summer. See this article for more information.
This proposal has definitely worked its way into the latest speeches for the presidential candidates. Regardless of who does or doesn’t support the holiday, you have to question what “relief” the gas-tax really provides.
I put some thought into the issue as we rode our bicycles to Golden to return some library books today. My ideas drifted toward alternative transportation, not temporary financial relief through the price of petrol.
In 2004, Chris and I sold our second vehicle and relied mostly on our bicycles for alternative transportation. During that time we only had to rent a car once, relying on carpooling (with each other) or ride our bicycles. I’ll be honest; our main goal was to gain financially from owning only one car. What we saved in automobile costs was used to help get our finances in order for our ultimate goal (that we are working on now). In addition to eliminating fuel costs, we did away with insurance and maintenance costs as well. Furthermore, the health and environmental benefits we gained were very satisfying. We were able to get in workouts and immerse ourselves in the landscape while riding from place to place.
Some of you may be thinking at this point about the logistics of using a bicycle as a means of transportation. Going for a ride is one thing, but running errands and getting to work is another. What about the cargo; clothes, packages, etc? Conventional methods have included the use of a backpack, pannier system or trailer. Fortunately, there is also a newer and more innovative means for bicycle commuting. Read on.
As equipment manager, Chris is always researching the latest touring bikes and gear. While cruising around on the Surly Bicycles website he found the Big Dummy. This is a frame and fork designed to work with Xtracycle components. What’s Xtracycle you ask? It’s a sport utility bicycle company. Yes, sport utility applies to bikes as well – all of the function and none of the fuel. The Big Dummy is essentially a “long” bicycle that was built to handle a 400 lb load, 200lbs for the cargo and 200 lbs for the rider. It probably works better than panniers or a trailer due to its design. Overall, the bike is easier to handle, can carry a heavier load and puts less stress on the rider.
So really, what’s my point? Simple – let’s think outside the box (or pump in this case) when it comes to the gas tax holiday.

1 comment:

JennSean said...

This is seriously so cool...I have previous experience trying to do grocery shopping with a bike and backpack. Although I got quite good at packing said backpack so that not all of my fruit or bread got completely smushed.
Thanks for the heads up on this!