A little more than a month ago, Sherri Thiessen pulled up to the gas pump and decided she’d had enough.
A little more than a month ago, Sherri Thiessen pulled up to the gas pump and decided she’d had enough. The price per gallon was $3.50, and she was tired of feeling that kind of pain.“I started thinking there was no reason I couldn’t start riding a bike,” Thiessen said. This is why she and her three kids are now primarily pedal powered. Her high-school-aged son only has a few blocks to walk for school. Her daughter has a bike, and her toddler son now rides in a trailer behind his mother. She bought her bike second-hand for about $15, the trailer for her son cost $100. The investment paid for itself quickly. “Since I started biking, we have saved $100 on gas,” Thiessen said. “I couldn’t believe the savings. I looked at the first bill from the gas card, and I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t think it was right. I only bike about 25 miles a week.”But that 25 miles is all in-town, which in a car means start and stop driving, which gets the lowest gas mileage. Thiessen works part time at the Newton Recreation Center, a place she bikes to. She also bikes to the grocery store, with her daughter to school and to run routine errands. Aside from a weekly trip to Wal-Mart or the occasional trip to Wichita, her Saturn stays parked in the garage. “Most of the places we go are within a couple of miles,” Thiessen said. “Newton is not that big of a town, and I see people who live closer to the school than me driving.”She said when it rains, she and the kids get into the car, but despite a fairly wet May, they have still saved quite a bit of cash. And they will be saving even more soon. She and her husband used their federal stimulus payment to buy a scooter he can ride the five miles to work — another investment she said will pay for itself. “The scooter gets 80 miles to the gallon,” Thiessen said. “The care gets 20 or less in town. It’s won’t take long to save money. ... My ultimate goal is to get rid of one car.”And while she hasn’t completely abandoned the car, she’s getting smarter about how she uses it. “We combine our errands,” Thiessen said. “Plan things out, it doesn’t take very much time, and it helps.”The side effect — a positive one — of getting on the bike is better physical fitness. Thiessen is already a runner, but biking works other muscles.“I feel a lot stronger,” Thiessen said. She knows parking the car in favor of a bike or walking isn’t for everybody — but she is hopeful there will be more people who look for options to save on the gas bill. “If everyone would do just a little bit, that would be huge,” Thiessen said. “It’s demand that pushes the price of gas up. ... If people would car pool, even just two people, that would cut the expense in half for both of them. ... Or if you could just bike one day a week. We have this mentality that it’s all or nothing. But just start slow.”