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Pedal Power--and Free Trees

Shel Horowitz's Monthly Frugal Fun Tip, Vol. 4, #1, May 2000

In honor of Give Your Car a Break Week, which just ended, I devote the first section of this issue of Frugal Fun Tips to...the humble bicycle.

The bike is one of the most empowering technologies ever invented: a combination weight-loss, fitness, recreation, transportation, and exploration device. It allows you to spend time with loved ones or by yourself, having FUN! Whether you prefer to fly down a hillside at top speed or cruise leisurely through a beautiful park, the bike offers you a chance to do it.

Consider this:
* A bicycle costs almost nothing to operate, and its manufacturing impact is a lot lighter on the earth than a car, motorbike, or moped
* In crowded urban areas, bikes are often faster than cars on trips up to about 5 miles (roughly 9 km if my math is right)--and the majority of car trips are less than that
* Rural areas with poor public transit are often delightful places to ride: hardly any traffic, clean air, open scenery
* Even people with certain disabilities can often enjoy a bike ride--on a hand-powered recumbent model, for instance
* Bike paths, bicycle parking, bike racks on public buses, showers and other amenities have been installed in many areas--and if your area is behind the times, start asking for what you want!

I started commuting by bicycle as a sophomore in high school, in New York City. My trip was three miles of flat terrain. But when we moved a year later, my ride was 5-1/2 miles uphill. On my three-speed, I still routinely beat the bus, which took a convoluted route.

Later, when I worked in Manhattan, I would bike several miles to a better subway station with a more direct route to work. Even after moving to New England, I still used my bike constantly to get around town. Now, unfortunately, we are in a steep, curvy area along a state highway, and it's much harder. But I still go out with my son and bike around the farm where we live, or strap the bikes to the car, drive a few miles, and ride along the bike path. Some bus companies are even installing bike racks now. The ability to combine bikes with other modes of transportation provides incredible flexibility.

So, what are you waiting for? Get that old bike out of the garage, pump up the tires, and go for it!

Public Service Announcement--Free Trees for Your Town

This comes from Gary at Dollar Stretcher ( of the longest running frugality newsletters on the Net:

And then there's a special offer for all you nature lovers. We've been in contact with a representative of the National Tree Trust (NTT). Like you, they're aware of the problems of urban sprawl. A scarcity of greens and wildlife as well as traffic and drainage problems. Part of NTT's mission is to encourage people to plant trees on public lands. So each year they make seedlings available free of charge. The requirements are pretty simple:
* trees must be planted on public land (schools, parks, roadsides, nature centers, etc.)
* projects must include community volunteers
* grant recipients must fill out a one-page annual report for two years after the planting.

This could be a great opportunity for your civic association, charitable group, Sunday school class or public school to make a contribution to your community. Deadline to submit an application to receive trees in spring 2001 is May 31. But, if you miss the deadline, you can always apply for the following year. For more information, or to receive an application, call 800-846-8733. Also, check out the NTT's web site at

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