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High gas prices drive some Ohio State students to ride bikes

Gordon Gantt / Lantern reporter

It’s not easy to walk into Revolution Cycles in the Short North neighborhood of Columbus these days. The custom bike shop and Segway dealership is packed with bikes, and it isn’t just because spring is in the air.

Gas prices are on track to set records this year and continue to rise. After news of Osama bin Laden’s death on Sunday, gas stations near Ohio State raised prices for regular unleaded by about 5 cents to about $4.20 per gallon.

These high fuel prices have some OSU students thinking of trading four wheels for two.

“Every time the media reports on fuel prices going up, we see a spike in business,” said Jared Cavalier, owner of Revolution Cycles.

Besides selling and fixing bikes, the shop is the only independent Segway dealer in the state of Ohio.

Segways are two-wheeled electric vehicles that the rider stands on and controls by shifting his or her weight.

“We’re selling as many (Segways) now, if not more, as when they first came out,” Cavalier said.

But bicycles are still the most popular means of transportation at Revolution Cycles. Cavalier said his shop is full of bikes in for a tune-up.

“A lot of them are bikes that have been in the garage for a couple years,” Cavalier said. “We’re getting a lot of people who forgot they had bikes.”

With many analysts predicting that gas prices could reach $5 per gallon by this summer, a lot more forgotten bikes might soon get some use.

“Oh god, this is terrible,” said Sarah Cheah, a second-year in pre-design, as she filled up her four-door Honda Civic on Saturday.

It now costs Cheah nearly $50 to fill up her compact car. The impact on her budget has her considering alternatives.

“I’m thinking of getting a hybrid or a scooter,” Cheah said.

Wade Killough of Columbus Cycles said a lot of people are thinking like Cheah. Located on King Avenue in Grandview, the business sells both gas-powered scooters and motorcycles and sales are rising with fuel prices.

“We typically sell 14 units a month, but there are days now when we‘re selling four a day,” Killough said.

Riders are attracted by the fun and fuel economy of the scooters, some of which get between 85 and 110 miles per gallon and can be filled with gas for less than $10, Killough said.

But not everyone is racing to get a bicycle or scooter.

Aaron Kersjes, a second-year in aviation, said prices are pretty ridiculous right now, but he isn’t feeling the pinch.

“Right now my girlfriend pays for my gas, because I pick her up from work,” Kersjes said as he topped off his tank on Saturday. “She has a credit card that her dad pays.”

For those without outside help, the price of gas might cause them to find alternative means of transportation. But Cavalier, who has been selling bikes and Segways for nine years, said he isn’t getting too comfortable with the boost in business.

“People have short memories,” Cavalier said. “If prices drop again, they’ll go back to their same old habits.”

It is those old habits that are the real problem, Cavalier said.

“More than half of car trips are six miles or less,” Cavalier said. “If we all used bikes, Segways or other urban transportation for those short trips, we could all drive Hummers on the highways.”

 

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