As you may or may not know, I don’t have a car. Ever since I left Los Angeles, I said adios to cars. Living in New York without a car is a no-brainer. Portland, while being pretty good on the public transportation spectrum, still isn’t as easy.
I don’t want a car for a variety of reasons. Truth be told, I’m not the best driver. I had an at fault accident a few years ago, which was pretty pointless and stupid. It would actually make a pretty good blog post if I weren’t so embarrassed about it. It cost me a lot of money, my dignity and I totaled my car. Thank goodness I didn’t hurt anyone. I recovered from it, but decided I didn’t want to have to drive all the time.
In addition to not wanting to drive all the time, I don’t want to fork over hundreds or thousands of dollars a month towards something that is always depreciating. I have over 50k in debt and I want to throw all my extra money towards that.
Lastly, not driving is so environmentally friendly! For the past three years, I have taken public transportation, walked and biked almost everywhere. It’s also a great way to get to know where you’re living and explore new things.
Last year, after walking to work for about three months and realizing how much of a bicycle culture there actually is here, I thought I must get a bike. What kind of Portlander would I be without one? I started doing research and all the new bikes were also several hundred to several thousand dollars! PDX is a serious bike town and some people do spend thousands on their bike. If they have the money, good for them, but I’m not spending that kind of money on something that could easily afford me a car. So I searched Craigslist. Good ol’ Craig can be hit or miss and I was seeing half broken, janky or just plain awful bikes. But I knew that my bike was on there somewhere.
Then I saw it: a turquoise mountain bike for $50. WHAT?
I emailed them right away, as I know first hand that it’s a numbers game when it comes to finding good deals on CL. They got back to me and I met the owner at her house. I thought for sure something would be wrong with it. She said she hardly used it, but wanted to upgrade to a fancy road bike, so no longer wanted a mountain bike. I rode around the block and all the gears were fine, tires were in tact and filled with air. SOLD.
Now that I had an almost new, awesome bike for $50, I knew I had to get some gear, even as minimalist as I am. I know this might be nasty to some, but I bought my helmet at goodwill for $5. I splurged and got a (new) bike lock for $25.
All in all, I spent $80 for my new ride and gear. Now that I work 4 miles a way, I save $5 a day by riding my bike and get 8 miles of riding in per day. I feel great and feel like a true Portlander. Although I do take the bus occasionally, last month I spent $35 on transportation. A monthly bus pass is $100, an expense I don’t want to add to my budget. Riding my bike will save me hundreds of dollars this year, while getting my workout in! The bike has more than paid for itself at this point.
Do you ride your bike to work? Do you live in a bike friendly city?