Saturday, July 28, 2007

Loss Leader

by Tom Bozzo

Or, now I really need to get rid of my car.

Into every cyclist's life comes a flat tire now and then, by which standard mine was charmed as my bike turned 12 before my first flat. More to the point, the previous two years of regular pounding (*) on the commute to work were trouble-free.

I was just about to cross into the territory where my avoided fuel purchases had paid for the bike's 2007 tune-up and the repair first flat and were starting to recover the cost of some durable accessories when one of my other bike-commuter colleagues broke the news of the second. There was no more denying that my tires were done for. So two Continental Contacts later, I might just re-reach the break-even point on consumables by mid-fall if the weather cooperates. Ah, well. I'm not in it for the money — yet.

(*) In particular, pavement quality in the Village of Shorewood Hills is as crappy as the village is property-rich.

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You didn't go tubeless?
Don't those need special rims?
OK, wait. I am an inveterate pedestrian. I am far too frightened of the massive, gung-ho and near-silent buses around here to brave a cycle, even though there would be better safety in numbers than in many other places ... all of which is a disclaimer, because colour me clueless: your bike's tune-up and flat plus some tires compete with what you would have outlaid on fuel? For your car? For real?

OK so gas is cheap in the US, but jumping gee-willikers, Batman.
Xtin, in my case it's fairly small numbers on both sides of the inequality. The bike repairs totaled around US$120; gas for commuting costs me somewhere in the vicinity of $1/day at present gas prices ($3/gal, or with exchange rates as they are what would probably seem from the UK perspective ridiculously cheap @ 39p/litre or so).

My car is not excessively efficient (but it's still an actual car, and not a fuel-hogging SUV), and the drive to work is only ~3 mi/~5 km. The upshot is that I drive so little now that it's the fixed costs of having the car in the first place that are killing me.

I should add that I'm very fortunate to have bike routes to work that involve very little mixing with the city's bus fleet, or indeed automobile traffic of any sort.
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