A barren bike rack at Salt Lake Community College is rarely seen, even on the chilliest of mornings. Many SLCC students rely on the power of their own two legs to get them to class on time.
English major Chip Evans makes his 2.5 mile trip to school by bicycle to save money.
“Motorized vehicles are pretty expensive. Not only does the cost of the vehicle impact a person financially, but the regular maintenance, insurance and gas costs are fairly unmanageable unless you have stable work, decent income and generally low costs of living,” Evans said. “I have a theory that cars are often the first reason many Americans get into debt. I’m not a fan of debt and I can live without a car for now, so I choose not to get one.”
Other bicycle commuters ride out of necessity. Brandt Bastow admits he’d drive to school if he had a car, but has learned that with a little extra preparation, he can use a combination of his bike and public transportation to get anywhere he needs. The 33-year-old chemistry major will even impart, if asked, that there are indeed perks to his mode of travel.
“I lost some weight riding my bike,” Bastow said.
Students looking to save money, or the earth, but who’d rather not have to pedal anywhere can follow in Jeremiah Forsett’s footsteps.
Forsett equipped his bike with a 48cc engine purchased from online. His bicycle turned moped gets almost 100 miles to the gallon and can maintain 25 miles per hour without much effort.
“It really is a great alternative to driving,” Forsett claims.
Commuting by bicycle does come with its share of obstacles, however.
“The first and foremost are bad drivers,” Evans explains, recalling many of his close calls on busy Redwood Road.
Evans continues, “Another downside to biking is weather, especially in Utah. Winter is a
pain and not enough people clear their walks. While bikers are generally supposed to be on the road and not the sidewalks, this can be very dangerous sometimes, so we often get forced on the sidewalks.”
If you’re considering getting around more often by bicycle this year, you might do well to accept advice from the regulars.
Bastow encourages “buying after market fenders during the wintertime” and “getting a bus pass from the school,” which allows for a discounted rate.
The Internet also provides many features to give you a safer and more efficient ride. Google Maps has a new bicycling option when planning routes, and websites like worldcommute.com can help you keep track of mileage ridden, money saved and your personal reduction in greenhouse gases.
Additionally, Evans offers a few tips for comfort and protection.
“Get a good bike and invest in a good seat. Take some time to learn about your bicycle. Be a defensive biker and watch out for cars.” And finally, “Get lights if you plan on biking at night.”