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LJWorld.com weblogs Rolling along

Spendy rubber vs. really pricey gas

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The other day I looked at my back tire and saw the pink casing was showing through the black tread.I needed new rubber, badly, so I stopped off at the friendly local bike shop, where I picked up two new hoops. As I made my way to pay, I glanced at the sticker and paused: $44.95. Each. Gulp.I tend to spend a little more on my tires. To me, the extra coin is worth it for my [commuting tires of choice.][1] They don't ride the best, but they're tough. I'd guess I've put more than 5,000 miles - maybe a lot more - on my current rear tire without a flat.Since I ride in the middle of the night, in all sorts of weather, I'd gladly pay a couple of extra bucks for the extra puncture protection. I don't want to fix a flat in a questionable 'hood or a rainstorm.Still, I was moderately chapped to shell out 90 bucks for a pair of new tires.Coincidentally, later that same day, my wife found some cheap gas and decided to fill up her car even though she still had gas to last for a few days. She dropped $43 on the partial fill-up.So I started thinking. My wife spent two fewer bucks on gas than I spent on my new rear tire. If she gets 20 mpg in her relatively new, modest, four-door sedan, her 43 bucks will last her just over 200 miles. If I get 5,000 miles out of my new rear tire, I'll be happy. Suddenly the 45 bucks didn't seem so expensive.But gas for a car doesn't equate to rubber for a bike, so I started considering the overall expense of commuting by bike versus car.Over the past year, I've spent 90 bucks on tires, about 50 bucks on a new chain and chainring, maybe 10 bucks on chain lube. And I just dropped $75 to get my headlight's battery fixed. Throw in another 20 bucks for miscellany - AA batteries for my blinky light, grease, etc. So in the past 12 months, I've dropped a grand total of $245 to rack up 5,000 miles on my commuter bike.Now the car.Let's say I had driven those 5,000 miles instead. Again let's assume 20 mpg (although that's high for my four-wheeled clunker in town). That's 250 gallons of dead dino juice. Gas only recently hit $4, so let's say it averaged $3.20 a gallon over the past year (that's just a guess). That's $800 in gas alone.I would have needed, say, three oil changes in that span, so there's another 60 bucks. My insurance runs 35 bucks a month, or $420 bucks for the year. Plus another $150 for the license and registration.Car total: $1,430.I'll admit, though, that's not really fair.I paid the insurance and license and registration fees anyway and got at least one oil change.So this comparison works only if I used one method of transportation exclusively. And it also didn't include "fuel" for the bike - food for me.But I suddenly don't feel so bad about dropping less than a C-note for new rubber.In response to my last entry, alm77 wrote: Andrew, how far do you bike? both to work and just as a total for an average day? ALSO, what is your take on my experience as follows: One afternoon, when traffic was high (so probably 4:30 or 5:00) I was going west on 6th street at 35 MPH when the car in front of me suddenly changed lanes and instantly I was a few feet from a sweating, struggling cyclist. The passing lane next to me was not clear and I managed to slam on my breaks in time, to which cars began to line up behind me. At every opportunity, the cars behind me would swing out into the passing lane leaving me trapped behind the cyclist. My heart was racing, first and foremost because I almost hit the guy and secondly, because I was afraid that someone was going to be rear ended (probably me) for going 10 miles an hour (or less, boy, was this guy struggling) on 6th street. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for cyclists, but I'm also all for bicycle LANES, that particular experience has made it difficult for me to have "bicycle friendly" opinions when it comes to policies and rules of the road. Any thoughts (go ahead, win me over.) ? ;)My commute is about five miles each way. I go home for dinner, so I make two 10-mile round-trips daily, for 100 miles a week just riding to work. I also ride to racquetball, the store, the bank : you get the idea. And I ride recreationally. I try to ride about 300 miles a week in total, though my mileage has been down a bit this year.Now, about your encounter : I'm not sure what I'm supposed to win you over to, but I'll give you my take.The cyclist you encountered had every legal right to ride on Sixth Street close to rush hour. Assuming he was as near to the right as practicable, there was absolutely nothing illegal about what he was doing, and you, as a driver, were obligated to drive behind him until it was safe for you to pass.That said, I almost never ride on Sixth Street. There is a one-block stretch on my commute where I do ride there, but it's only because my beloved Seventh Street is blocked off for construction. I said my commute is five miles, but I only live four miles from the office. The extra mile is the result of choosing to ride on wider, safer, lower-traffic roads. I particularly like Fourth Street.I don't like impeding traffic. Sometimes it's unavoidable, but I go to great lengths - literally - not to make cars poke along at my pedestrian pace. So, while the cyclist you encountered had every right to do what he did, you'd never catch me in that situation.I'd vigorously defend any cyclist's right to ride on Sixth Street at any time, but I'd urge equally vigorously anyone who'd ask or even listen not to.I like bike lanes, too, and use them whenever I can. Sometimes they're full of glass and rocks and an occasional jogger, but when they're kept clean, they're just dandy. Unfortunately, there aren't enough of them. If I rode only on roads with bike lanes, I wouldn't make it anywhere near my workplace, and I work downtown. [1]: http://www.specialized.com/bc/SBCEqProduct.jsp?spid=35690

Comments

Dan Alexander 5 years, 9 months ago

Nice blog, personally I try to ride to my full time job when I'm not feeling lazy or running late which is frequently for those tri-weekly meetings at 9. My part time job is very close and now that I have the new bike it has to be pretty stormy to not just glide down Mass. One of the biggest reasons I weak out on riding out west is the many hills. I used to take 6 th street sidewalks/roads all the way to the west side. With the new bike I have all gears at my disposal so I choose to get the hill out of the way by riding up 14th to campus and then riding the crest of the hills towards the west(eventually down 9th and then to 6th). I don't ride on 6th for very long and so far the cagers have been fairly considerate compared to some of the flack I've taken riding North on Kentucky. I know 6th is a busy street, but rush hour is pretty much over by then, and my speed would not be safe for the pedestrians if if I wasn't on the road, also its pretty in-efficient on some of those sidewalks with sewers sticking up and the waving back and forth. I used to think bike lanes would just be the answer and then I read some well educated opinions about the subject in US towns that had many bike lanes. What they found is that they had given up their rights to the road. Roads, no matter what some say, were made for all transit not just cars. Highways that are marked are not bike-ways but bedsides that we were there first and will probably outlive the car as we know it today. I'm glad I haven't been cursed at yet on my new bike. I rarely break any rules of the road, certainly way less than most cagers that I see. Having been a commuter cyclist for a good few years, I would say that I feel there is a little more understanding now. I've had much fewer run-ins with the blue collar/country men whom I've always respected. There were times in the past that dual-ies seemed to see scaring cyclist as a favorite past time. Now they probably understand the reasoning better than anyone for riding a bike. It would suck to be a good ol boy that was forced to give up their beloved truck for something they never would have thought to have driven.

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