By KATIE SEMINARA
Vindicator Staff Writer
111Some Mahoning and Shenango valley residents say they are saving more than $100 each month by using alternate methods of transportation such as bicycles, motor scooters and motorcycles.
An average car might get close to 30 mpg, whereas a two-wheeled counterpart could get up to 100 mpg, leaving the two-wheeled commuters with spare cash.
“If I were to be driving to work and back, on average I would spend $30 a week on gas. So I’m saving about $120 a month,” said Nathanael Welch, who rides his bike from the North Side of Youngstown to his job on the Youngstown State University campus.
Welch rides his green Schwinn Varsity about 15 minutes to and from work at YSU each day. Since picking up riding again in May, his trips now include riding to the store and Mill Creek Park.
“I try to ride as much as I can,” Welch said, crediting a loss of 10 pounds to biking.
Although Welch doesn’t wear a helmet, he said: “Riding isn’t scary. I’m always just aware of everyone else.”
Ohio doesn’t have a law that requires bicyclists to wear helmets.
But Mike Kavulla, owner of The Bicycle Store in Hermitage, Pa., thinks helmets are a wise choice for all riders.
His employee, Trevor Lenhart of Sharpsville, Pa., who rides about three miles to the store, heeds Kavulla’s advice.
Lenhart said he saves close to $80 each month by riding to work, but wishes cars were more bike-friendly.
“We are still developing a biking culture, and drivers don’t know how to handle it,” Lenhart said.
Automobile drivers, work places and store owners are not adjusting to the transition of commuting and running errands by bike.
A transition is happening, but happening slowly, according to Ron Glove, owner of Cycle Sales on Market Street in Boardman.
“We are dealing in a community where it’s difficult for bicycling,” said Glove.
Stores are not equipped with bike racks and city development plans do not include adding bike lanes to the roads, he noted.
Mill Creek Park is bike-friendly. According to landscape architect Justin Rogers, bike traffic has increased, and the park is working on surveys to establish solid biking statistics.
Though the park is suitable for riders, Rogers agrees that most roadways are not.
“A major reason is lack of education among motorists,” said Rogers, who thinks adding bike lanes should be considered during roadway reconstruction.
As Rogers has seen more riders on the trails, bicycle shop owners Kavulla and Glove have noticed an increased interest in bikes and an increase in the amount of bike repairs.
Bicycles can start out at around $300 and Kavulla said a customer can get a bike, plus all of the necessities for about $400.
“I think a lot more non-enthusiasts are giving biking a second chance,” said Kavulla of those customers who have brushed the dust off their bikes and brought them in for tune-ups.
Motorcycles are being pulled out of storage as well.
“My husband pulled his 1975 Yamaha out of the garage after 15 years,” said Karen Carroll of Niles.
He switched from driving his Ford Explorer that only got 18 mpg to his bike that gets close to 100 mpg. Carroll estimates her husband, Glen, spent $50 a week on gas before riding again.
“It’s too bad there isn’t like eight feet on the side of the road for bikers,” Carroll said.
She worries about her husband riding, because her brother-in-law was killed in a motorcycle accident four years ago.
Not all riders worry about accidents, but rather unpredictable weather.
“If we were in a different region I would consider using my bike all year round, but I stop riding at 40 degrees,” said Brian Nutter who bought his used Honda Interceptor for $5,300 five years ago.
The Honda gets 40 mpg; his Toyota Corolla, 32 mpg. He also has a sport-utility vehicle that sits in his garage.
Nutter rides from Liberty to his job in Youngstown, weather permitting. “It’s just a benefit I have now,” Nutter said of having a motorcycle.
Motorcycles aren’t the only motorized two-wheelers helping riders save cash.
About a month ago, Marty Yavorcik of Boardman took his interest in motorcycling and made it a reality.
Yavorcik, who works as a lawyer in downtown Youngstown, bought a Vespa GTS scooter that gets 80 mpg. It costs him $8 to fill up.
“I kept my car, but wanted something to zip around to work in,” Yavorcik said.
Scooters and cycles can range in price from $1,600 to $13,000 and can get up to 110 mpg, said general manager Bill Kaglic of Andrew’s Cycles in Salem.
“Our scooter sales have been booming lately,” said Kaglic, who recommends purchasing a smaller scooter for back roads and a larger scooter for highway travel.
Even though Ohio laws do not require riders over age 17 to wear helmets, “we always recommend riders wear all safety gear,” Kaglic said.