No Gas Pains Here

by Joey deVilla on September 20, 2011

No gas pains here

Since May, I have filled the gas tank on my car a grand total of four times:

  1. Once to drive myself and my stuff from Accordion City to Ottawa, where I lived for the summer while immersing myself at my new job at Shopify.
  2. Once to drive from Ottawa to Kingston and back to attend my Engineering class’ 20th reunion at Crazy Go Nuts University.
  3. Once to drive myself and my stuff from Ottawa back to Accordion City.
  4. Once after the return trip from Ottawa. My tank is still mostly full as of this writing.

At this rate, most of my automotive spending has been on insurance and a little maintenance. Gas barely figures into the equation.

It was easy not driving in Ottawa. I lived and worked downtown, and Ottawa’s traffic, especially on the weekends, is positively idyllic in comparison to Toronto’s. Anyone who says that Ottawa has a traffic problem should be hermetically sealed in a dozen layers of bubble wrap for his or her own protection; such a person is too fragile to cope with the real world.

Since 2003, I’ve been riding “The Scorpion King”, my 7-speed Raleigh Calypso cruiser, pictured below:

The red rocket

I bought a new bike in Ottawa and broke with my tradition of buying cruisers. This time, I bought “The Red Rocket”, a deVinci Stockholm hybrid, pictured below, that I bought at the Kunstadt on Bank Street.

The red rocket

I didn’t travel terribly far in Ottawa, so while the new bike seemed appreciably snappier than the old one, I never got a sense of how good a commuter bike The Red Rocket was until I returned to Toronto and started biking from home in High Park to downtown. Hills that took some effort on the cruiser melt away on the hybrid. I zip down straightaways like an eel through a Vaseline sea. This thing is a joy to ride.

Not everyone can do this, of course. I work at a combination of locations: my rather nice home office, the Hacklab and a handful of places where they’re happy to let me “set up shop”. Given the sort of intra-urban distances I travel — about 7 kilometres (4.3 miles) from home to downtown — the bike gets me around about as quickly as public transit, once you factor in waiting times. And those of you who haven’t seen me in a bit have noticed the workout I’ve been getting; you don’t get that on the bus, streetcar or subway.

There will always be times when the car is a better option, and I’m glad I have mine. However, most of the time, the bike, combined with public transit when it’s raining, snowing or drinking, is great news for my wallet and waistline.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne Onimos September 20, 2011 at 7:00 pm

And how about your state-of-mind?

T.M. Barclay September 20, 2011 at 7:23 pm

How I wish I could do this! The ride back and forth to work is much too hazardous where I live…and after pulling a 10-12 hour shift, this old lady might never survive the trip home anyway lol Thanks for sharing though…keep on biking!

Kim September 20, 2011 at 11:29 pm

What about the time we were noodling around Gatinhole in the wee hours of the morning? 🙂 (The highways here are shaped rather like cooked spaghetti, eh?)

Joey deVilla September 20, 2011 at 11:58 pm

Kim: That fill-up in “Gatinhole” (love the nickname) — post-dinner, pre-call to CAA for the late-night battery boost and the drive around Quebec’s Dr. Seuss-inspired roadways — was the one that carried me from Ottawa to Toronto.

Kim September 21, 2011 at 12:42 am

Duh? Of course it was.

I use that nickname for Gatineau quite regularly 🙂 The word simply occurred to me one day, but I doubt I was the first one to dream it up.

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