Monday, October 17, 2011

A Special Bike To Save Money On Transportation

This is a guest post by my friend Cara. She was a blog reader and emailed my pennilessparenting@yahoo.com address and asked me for some ideas on how to make weddings and set up a home cheaply, as she had just recently gotten engaged. In our back and forth emails, we discovered that we lived in the same general area, and we met up in person for the first time at her wedding, which she made very frugally and beautifully.
About a week after the wedding, while running errands in the city, I bumped into Cara and her husband riding this ultra cool bicycle. Yes, both of them riding the same bicycle! Similar to a double bicycle, only the bicycle originally started out as a regular single bicycle, but with a little fixing up and adding a few extra parts, this bicycle now is much more useful, making it more akin to a car than a standard bicycle.
I think I stood there and questioned the newlyweds for a good half hour, because I was so enamored by the idea. At my request, Cara and her husband wrote a post for you readers about how they use this Xtracycle bicycle to save money on transportation.

My husband and I don’t have a car, though not for frugal reasons—more because we can’t drive! He has an expired license and no plans of renewing it as he’d have to learn to drive all over again in a new country (we’re both immigrants). I have a license but learned to drive really late and as such am a bad/ uncoordinated/ ''-nervous driver even in my native country, and really don’t want to learn to drive here where drivers have a really terrible reputation.

But we don’t miss cars at all. When busing is expensive and walking is tiresome, we have an even better option: a bicycle.

My husband has what’s called an Xtracycle, which is essentially just a regular bicycle with a big platform and bags between the frame and the rear wheel. [Penny- The bike is a regular bike that you jimmy up with extra parts to turn it into this special multipurpose bike.] The platform is built to carry up to 200 pounds, so no more carrying heavy bags. He’s carried groceries, lumber, tools (he’s a carpenter), and I don’t even know what else. Even people can ride on that platform.

I really can’t praise the Xtracycle enough. I myself don’t ride it, but my husband took me for many a ride when we were engaged; we consider riding together to be a romantic choice of dates. When he goes out grocery shopping or to pick up building supplies or something, I don’t have to worry about him straining his back from carrying heavy loads. And if we have children in the future, the whole family can go for a ride, because there are kids’ seats that can be strapped on. It’s about as safe as you can get if you’re a strong rider and everyone is wearing helmets.

Notice I’m wearing a skirt. That’s right—you can ride this even in your Sunday best or to a wedding (which we did last week)!

The initial investment might put you off at first, but its still tremendously cheaper than purchasing and running a car. Once you have it up and running, it costs next to nothing, except materials for the occasional flat tire repair. Compare to the cost of cars, or even buses, and it easily pays for itself.

For more information on the Xtracycle, see the website here for even more detailed information.

No, I do not work for Xtracycle nor are they paying me to advertise for them, I'm just sharing what works for us and helps us save money.

I'm really toying with the idea of getting an Xtracycle at some point for my husband. There are so many trades he could learn; he's very handy and could easily work as a fix it guy, electrician, carpenter, plumber, or anything of the sort, but he's put off learning that because we thought it would mean he'd need to invest in a car and its upkeep in order to transport his work tools. With an Xtracycle, he'd be able to work in that type of field, just like Cara's husband does, and we still would be able to live extra frugally by being a car free family. 

Do you have a bicycle? Do you use it as an alternative method of transportation, or just to exercise? Would an addition to your bicycle that would allow you to carry tools or groceries easily, as well as an additional passenger (either adult or child) be something that you'd like?
How do you save money on transportation? Do you go car free? Are you a one car family? Do you try to walk, ride bikes, or take a bus instead of driving, even if you have a car?

Linking up to Frugal Friday

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