While nobody is happy about the soaring prices, the indirect consequence of more attention being paid to transportation options is an undeniably positive development.
"One of the first comments people make is, 'I gotta bring [my old bicycle] out because gas is killing me,' " Davis said.
Sales of commuter bicycles - more upright bikes made for carrying a load down the road - and assorted accessories are increasing at [Athens area bike] shops.
Ever since gas started creeping toward the $4 barrier, and especially in the past two months, [Hub Bikes owner Brian] Molloy said, his store can't seem to keep its shelves stocked with commuter-friendly cycling accessories - rear racks, fenders, pannier bags, lights.
That shift in sales means the shops aren't moving as many recreational bikes as before. However, the cycling business may be one of only a few that weather the gas crunch well, Molloy said.
"Most people used to come in and say, 'I want a bike for fun.' Now people are coming in and saying, 'I want a bike to ride to work,' or, 'I want to buy a bike to get my groceries,' " Molloy said.
But making the switch from gas pedals to bike pedals isn't easy for some people.
"People are still so afraid of being on the roads around here because we have a small amount of alternative transportation routes around town," he said. "But people are willing to take the risk a little more now because of where their gas prices are at."
It's a shame that we don't have an interconnected network of safe & convenient bike lanes and off-road paths to accommodate these new riders (and long-time commuters!). This has been BikeAthens' argument for over ten years!
Now that it's almost necessary to have alternatives to private automobile use, we're going to have to scramble to put the appropriate infrastructure in place. Strides in the right direction have been made (Lumpkin, expanded transit service, etc.), but we're still a far sight from where we should be.
Here's hoping the Mayor, Commission, and local planners re-double their efforts to incorporate transit, pedestrian, and bicycle infrastructure wherever and whenever possible. Here's also hoping that more Athenians opt for less petro-intensive transportation and support their neighbors in doing the same (see the comments under the ABH article linked above for some hilariously scary expressions of spittle-spewing hatred for bicycles. "Cock-roach heads." Seriously.)
Also mentioned in the article was last Saturday's enjoyable and informative group ride along the Greenway. Thanks to John Devine & Mark Ebell for the excellent presentations and the good excuse to pedal down the Greenway. Pictures of the event below: