by Steve Waller
If I hear one more person complain about gas prices I’ll scream! Oil company shareholders are too busy cashing big dividends to be sympathetic. Complaining just says you’re grumpy when you fill your tank, but you filled up anyway, didn’t you? Demanding lower prices just says you desperately want to use gas as you always have, you don’t want to change your gas habits and you don’t want to pay so much – you will (but you don’t have to).
Low gas prices don’t make gas more abundant, (it just uses it up faster), doesn’t reduce demand, (so you willingly pay more), and doesn’t encourage renewables. If you really want to teach those gouging you at the pump a lesson, don’t complain, don’t try to lower prices, do what smart consumers do – buy LESS of their darn product! It’s simple math: Buy less = spend less. And don’t say “But I can’t!” because, for many of you, Yes, you can! Here’s how – Go into your garage, basement, shed or storage area. Take a strong flashlight. Look way, way in the back. See that bit of dusty old chrome? Good. Now move all that other stuff out of the way. Grab that shiny metal and drag that old bicycle out into the light of day. Get a few rags and an oil can, (or take it to your local bike shop for a tune up). Find a helmet, a lock and, for considerably less than the price of just one tank of gas, you’ve resurrected your wheels! It’s summer… RIDE!
Get very familiar with the Marquette Police Bicycle Safety Information (mqtcty.org/police_bike.html). Then be absolutely sure to read “What Every MI Bicyclist Should Know” from the League of Michigan Bicyclists (www.lmb.org/index.php/Education/michigan-vehicle-code-pertaining-to-bicyclists.html). Remember, you are responsible for your safety.
Start riding around the neighborhood. Grab your kid’s backpack and bring some supplies home from the grocery store. Log onto the “Marquette Bicycle Collective” on Facebook. The Collective seeks to enhance biking culture in the Marquette area and assist the development of a thriving, diverse bike community. They exist to provide bicycles for rent and purchase, provide bike workshop space, promote bicycle awareness, and provide practical bicycle education.
YES, many of you CAN commute to work. No, you won’t be all sweaty and disgusting unless you make your commute an Olympic event. Actually, you’ll be airing yourself out the whole way! You’ll be an inspiration to your fellow workers. No weather excuses; it only rains occasionally. Consider the wind a challenge. Ride to school, work, to run errands, or just for fun. Whenever you can, ride past the gas station. Then do it again. It feels sooo good! Your gas money stays in your pocket and you lose weight!
An average 150-pound person will burn about 500 calories riding a bike at a leisurely pace, 30 minutes to work and 30 minutes home. You’ll shed 5-10 pounds in about two or three months. By riding your bike or walking to work you no longer need to make time to head to the gym. Just 3 hours of riding per week can slash your risk of heart disease and stroke in half.
Who knows? If you’re already in moderately good shape, ride the Superior Bike Fest, June 24-26 (www.superiorbikefest.com). If you need to get back in shape, maybe by August 13th you’ll feel spunky enough to ride the Ore to Shore (www.oretoshore.com). Keep yourself and your bicycle in good condition and ride within your limits. In any case, when the gas shareholders come after your money, just smile and ride away!
Steve Waller’s family lives in a wind and solar powered home. He has been involved with conservation and energy issues since the 1970s and frequently teaches about energy. He and a partner own a U.P. wind/solar business called Lean Clean Energy. He can be reached at Steve@UPWallers.net.
Marquette Bicycle Collective on Facebook:
Reprinted from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, Summer 2011 issue.