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Brown favors pedals over pumps

Published: Thu, April 28, 2011 @ 12:01 a.m.


John Brown, a Warren resident and city councilman, is one person who’s opted to bike to work instead of driving. He’s pedaled his bike to his job at Thomas Steel Strip Corp., a 5-mile ride, for much of the past five years.

By Karl Henkel



While most cringe at the sight of gas prices, John Brown portrays a different expression when he passes fuel pumps on his early morning ride to work.

“It puts a smile on my face,” he said. “I get a little smile when I go by and see $3.89 a gallon.”

Brown is able to smile because each time he passes a gas station, he isn’t driving — he’s riding his bike.

The 53-year-old Warren resident and city councilman begins each morning by pedaling five miles to Thomas Steel Strip Corp., a path he’s pedaled for much of the past five years, weather permitting.

So far he’s totaled more than 4,700 miles on his Trek 7300, equipped with a rack and quick-release bag, so he can transport all of his essentials to work.

Brown, who estimated he’s spent $500 on the bike, accessories and a couple of small repairs, said he originally didn’t look at the throwback form of transportation as a way to save significant money.

But with gas prices nearing record highs for the second time in four years, especially considering his everyday vehicle — a Chevy Venture — gets only about 20 miles per gallon, it’s been an added bonus for Brown.

The gas savings from riding instead of driving? At a $3.90-a-gallon rate (for regular unleaded), Ohio’s average as of Tuesday, it’s more than $900.

Add that to a recent Associated Press story, which found the average American spends more than $8,500 a year on his or her vehicle, based on driving 15,000 miles annually.

As for one perceived downside — that it takes too much time to get from point A to point B — Brown says that’s not the case: It takes him about the same amount of time, give or take a few minutes.

Time, though, is not something Greg Hynes is worried about.

A lifelong biker, he is considering biking from his home in Coitsville Township to his job as a civil engineer at Michael Baker Jr. Corp. in Brighton Township, Pa. — a whopping 34-mile, one-way commute.

Hynes, who went on a 12-day, 700-mile bike ride with friends through North Carolina and Virginia last summer, said he spends about $40 a week on gas for work purposes.

He said he doesn’t plan on making the two-hour, 45-minute ride every day but hopes to do it three days a week to save on gas money.

“It’s not really all about the money,” he said. “But if it’s gonna cost me $40 a week, maybe if I bike a couple of days, I can cut that in half.”

Biking can save money for riders and, in turn, provide big paydays for local bike-shop owners such as Paul Frankford of Frankford Bicycle, 964 N. State St. in Girard, and Augie Thumm of Thumm’s Bike and Clock Shop, 330 West Market St. in Warren.

Thumm said his sales are up nearly 30 percent this year, thanks in part to customers’ frustrations with gas prices, something he correctly anticipated when he bought his most recent fleet of bikes.

He took on about 700 new ones this season, but all in 2010 models. For essentially the same product, Thumm has been able to offer a $400 bike for as little as $250.

Thumm’s savings are passed on to customers through lower percentage markups, and he said his prices are now more in line with chain stores such as Walmart and Kmart.

Add lower prices to a usually busy time of year based on warm weather, Frankford said, and business is booming.

“There’s definitely a noticeable difference,” he said.

The bikes are flying off the shelves; Thumm recently sold 26 in one day and said he expects the shop, in business for 101 years, to have one of its best seasons ever.

“I think I’ve placed us in a position to have the best year we’ve ever had.”


1WarrenRicheyKid(169 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Now if only local governments provided more bike lanes. Seems like the author missed citing the health benefits of cycling.

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2db(280 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

THANKS BARRACK!! Soon we will look like China used to with thousands of Americans pedaling to town...

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3VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

My wife and I bought bikes late last year and discovered how dangerous it is to travel on highways today. Many driviers are actually aggressive against bikes on the road and purposely roar by at close distances, without giving proper right-of-way.

Drivers please remember this...bikes have just as much legal right to be on the right side of the road as you do, so you must give them the right-of-way!

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4lee(544 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Here is your right of way, Who gets hurt in a car, bike accident? Stay out of the way

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5city_resident(528 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

"Here is your right of way, Who gets hurt in a car, bike accident? Stay out of the way"

Who gets hurt in a tractor trailer/car accident? Stay out of the way!
--your local teamsters

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6WarrenRicheyKid(169 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Looking at all the cars go by with only one person in the vehicle.
All that oil consumed.
Not a wise use of God's creation.

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7cav0822(16 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Trek must not be doing to good if they had 700 models left over from last year. Maybe being over-priced could be a factor.

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8cav0822(16 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Your absolutely right youcantsilencetruth!!!!!

I bought a bike recently and done much research before purchasing. Cannondale was the last company to stop manufacturing USA Frames. They did a few of their 2010 Road Racing models in Bedford PA. Trek has been manufactured in China for awhile now.....come to realize that Giant Bicycle Co. makes the Trek line and Giant's are priced anywhere from $30-$50 LESS than a comparable Trek. I am very happy with my Giant Brand Bike purchase and never had any problems with it and since I saved money over the Trek, I was able to buy accessories for the bike

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9cav0822(16 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Surly is an excellent co but does not target the typical youngstown ohio market. They do not manufacture a "hybrid comfort" bike which seems to be majority of the bikes seen on the area bike trails. If we lived in Cleveland where the toe path is half gravel/half paved, then a cross bike would be adequate in that type of terrain. Most of the riders on the bike trail have comfort or recumbents bikes from what I have seen.

@Everyone considering a new bicycle should ask their local shop to show them American made products.....I am sure shops have American made products and I am sure shops can import a frame from china and build with Shimano components.....for $4,000 minimum.....90% customers response is "that is more than what I paid for my first car!"

I am happy with my purchase and I don't look at it as mass produced junk as the Schwinn's, Mongoose's, GT's (Wal-Mart) or Diamonbak's (Dicks Sporting Goods). I found a shop that sold me a quality product and a shop that really takes time with their customers in making the right decision for the type of cycling that I am doing.

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