On October 25, Spokes Inc. partnered with the Alexandria Police Department provided free tune-ups and “safety tune” to citizens in Founder’s Park (at the intersection of N. Union and Queen Street on the Waterfront) to promote bicycle safety. Although Steve Beheler, an employee at the store in Alexandria, was not at the event he was obviously pleased with the turn-out. Despite the rain, “a fair number of people showed up” he said.
When crude oil prices broke all-previous records in the middle of the year, Mr. Beheler’s store saw a record number of clients looking to tune-up an old bike. “$4 gas seems to be the tipping point,” he said. While he believes that most of the people coming in were driven by a desire to save money, he minimizes the point in favor of another: personal health. According to Mr. Beheler, regular bicycle users “look better, feel better, and lose weight” when they incorporate cycling into their daily lives. With gas prices sliding back towards $2 per gallon, he does not think the spike in ridership will endure, but maintains the belief that some people will continue to rely on bicycles for commuting and running errands. “After all,” he said, “more and more [bicycle] commuters are doing this every year.”
Not only is $4 gas good for your health, it’s good for Alexandria. Fewer cars on the road mean fewer accidents, less traffic, and cleaner air and water – today and tomorrow. It means you have extra money to take your daughter to The Dairy Godmother for frozen custard (if you’ve never tried it, you haven’t lived) with none of the guilt.
Alexandria needs more programs like this and public-private partnerships are the way to make them happen, especially when the budget gets tight.