Future generations will view today’s gas guzzlers in the same way we view the Model T . . . as ancient history. Our inefficient fossil fuel beasts not only pollute the atmosphere, but also make constant demands on our own limited resources. We can lessen this drain by using car pools, trains, buses, bicycles, and even our own feet. Europeans have long used bicycles as a form of transportation, and thankfully, that idea seems to be catching on more in the United States. When I first started riding a bike in my town, it seemed very few adults viewed bicycles as an alternative. In those days, I had the whole street to myself, but today, if I don’t look before making a turn, I might get ran over by a silent and serious bike rider . . . the kind that wears protective helmets, skin tight bicycle pants, and weaves fearlessly through congested traffic. More and more folks are realizing that bicycles aren’t just a mode of transportation, but good exercise as well. So, instead of just driving a vehicle to the gym, ( paying gas and gym fees) doesn’t it make more sense to ride your bike wherever you need to go or just for fun and get your exercise as an added benefit? Bikes can simplify life, whether you live in the crowded inner city, small town, or countryside.
For those who must use a personal vehicle to travel long distances, there are still ways to trim transportation costs. The first way is conscious selectivity when purchasing a vehicle in the first place. Most folks are so conditioned by advertising that they end up buying something overpriced and inappropriate for their needs. Purchase a vehicle that meets your needs, not your neighbor’s. If possible, look for one-owner vehicles with well-kept maintenance records, low milage, and healthy tires. Ask about existing warranties and make sure they are given with the title at purchase. Ask a trusted mechanic to check the vehicle out thoroughly, and pay him well for his experienced opinion. This is one simple, investment that could save enormous amounts of headaches down the road.
Other ways of trimming costs are to learn basic vehicle maintenance, tire changing, and the correct use of jumper cables to avoid high towing fees. Keep a spare key in a magnetic case hidden somewhere under the hood so that when you lock yourself out it isn’t a permanent thing. Locksmiths can charge $40 to $50 dollars per visit, sometimes even more. Besides, having to hire someone to open your door can make you feel really stupid and frustrated.
Tire irons are important, and most folks never give them a thought until they have to use one. From personal experience, I advise all women to carry a cross tire iron as it gives more leverage. It should be carried in addition to a straight iron.
Not long ago, our little family was stranded in freezing weather. Our tire hadn’t just gone flat, but had actually blown off the rim completely. We had to pound a hammer on the straight tire iron to chip away chunks of asphalt from around our tire rim. The straight tire iron was used like a giant nail to pry loose the frozen asphalt so that we would have enough room to get the spare tire on. After an eternity of frozen and half-mashed fingers, an ex-truck driver arrived with a pair of strong, warm hands to finish the job — an answer to our prayers. Although we had gloves, they offered little protection for the rugged job we had to do. From this challenging experience, I would suggest everyone keep a pair of thick leather gloves in the glove box or in the trunk. Does anyone use glove compartments for gloves anymore? Other survival items that should be on board at all times are: maps, a first aid kit, a can of instant flat fixer, a tool box, a flashlight, a warm sleeping bag, warm clothes, a rain poncho, and emergency food and water.
Actually, a stranded motorist in America who can’t afford an expensive tow truck is in a lot more trouble than he would be if he found himself in the same situation in Mexico. Although we have never broken down on our Mexican car travels, we know that if we did, “Los Angeles Verdes” (The Green Angels) would come to our rescue. These government-sponsored crews drive green trucks on all major roads just looking for trouble. When they find a stranded vehicle, they do minor repair work for free or give the unfortunate traveler enough gas to get to where they are going. We actually feel safer traveling in Mexico than we do in the U.S.!
Preventive maintenance, just like preventive health care, is the best policy for saving on transportation costs. The following are a few short tips that not only can prevent accidents and major repairs, but also help the environment:
Where the Amish & other gentle folks find their necessaries!