Opinion: Invest in your community, ride your bike & share your car!

By Jeffrey Stern

Our generation may be bonkers about the “van life”, but what about that bike life?

In this continually overcomplicated, technology saturated world that seems to grow by leaps and bounds with each passing day there is an urge to escape. Escape our screens, our over-connected lives and responsibilities and trade them in for the open road, adventures and explorations of the unknown.

Although the idea of trading in rocketing rent prices across the country for life lived out of the back your Subaru or foam mattress pad in the bed of your Toyota Tacoma sounds appealing, the question of sustainability is clearly evident. Although some people can, and will, it’s hard to imagine spending your whole life living that way.

Believe it or not, for vehicles driven approximately 15,000 miles a year, the average cost of ownership equal around $8,500 per year in 2017, or roughly $700 a month according to AAA. That doesn’t even take into account the initial purchase price, the rising fuel prices and the of course the fact that because everything in the world is getting more expensive that each oil change, or trip to the mechanic gets progressively more expensive (unless of course you know how to change your own oil, but we’re millennials, so that’s pretty much a lost art).

How about investing this saved money in your community? Laying down roots somewhere that feels like home, building a garden, taking pride in your home however big or small it might be. There are so many ways to travel using public transportation with your bike. Once you’ve arrived at your destination, the journey can really begin – and there’s no reason to not enjoy a route home that takes you off the beaten path.

Yes, this $700 per month is unlikely to cover the cost of mortgage to buy a house in most places in the country, but it is a stepping stone. Inevitability over time your car will try to suck the life out of you, not to mention all the cash you have.

Bikes do nothing but give back. They open your eyes to the world around you. New people, places and experiences by bike are without a doubt some of the best connections you can make. The simplest things can become so fascinating with a bike as an integral part of your life.

When have you ever met a bike touring group with road rage, in a hurry to get nowhere fast that won’t stand for anything in their way? I’ll answer that for you: never.

The van life has its perks, don’t get me wrong. Everything self-contained in a vehicle, with complete mobility to go off the grid. The thought is nice, for a time, but there is comfort in feeling settled. What sounds even nicer though, is ditching the car, embracing the beautiful things we already have around us (more is not always better) and riding our bikes more.

A happy medium may be a car share with a few friends. Imagine the money you’ll save, the relationships you’ll foster and freedom you will have; quite literally the best of both worlds. Van, bike and home, now that’s the kind of life I want to live.

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