Cheap, easy, and green: Get on a bicycle
Cycling has well-known health, social, and environmental benefits too, but the transportation mode's money-saving qualities may trump them all in this economy! If you're tired of paying at the pump, get a bike for nearby errands and pay quite a bit less -- or maybe even get rid of a second car or go car-free altogether for maximum savings! Some ways to get started, eco-nomically:
1. Get a cheap bike. Not willing to make a huge upfront investment? Check Craigslist or sales at neighborhood bike shops to get a great deal on a used bike. You can even join Freecycle and try to get a free bike -- I have a friend who put in a "wanted" request and got replies from generous neighbors willing to part with their unused two-wheelers!
2. Don't get your bike stolen. Nothing will drive up the cost of bike ownership as having to replace bikes due to theft. Luckily, if you already got your bike pre-loved, you likely already have an advantage since shiny new expensive bikes are what most bike thieves are really after. But if you live in a theft-prone area, consider ugging up your bike for maximum safety!
Don't know how best to lock up your bike? Streetsblog's put together a video featuring Bicycle Habitat mechanic Hal Ruzal-- who grades bike lock-up jobs. Watch it to learn both how to lock up your bike properly -- and how to half-ass it and attract thieves.
3. Stay safe. Try to avoid costly bike-wrecks or health care fees by doing your part to stay safe on the road. I've written before about bicycle safety for those who feel squeamish about sharing the road with cars, but I also highly recommend a bicycle safety class, where you'll learn not only how to bike better but also make some fellow two-wheeling friends in your neighborhood. There's more safety in numbers! The League of American Cyclists keeps a calendar of upcoming bike safety classes around the U.S.
4. Fix it yourself. Bike maintenance is helluva lot cheaper than car maintenance even if you outsource the work. But finding a bike co-op near you, or taking a bike fix-it class, can give you more cycling independence while also saving you a little cash. I picked up a few tips at my local bike co-op, Bikerowave, though I have yet to learn out how to fix a flat...
5. Get cicle chic gear on the cheap. I'll be honest and say that I've yet to buy any fashion item specifically to wear while bicycling (my helmet doesn't count, as it's not fashionable). But April Streeter at Treehugger's looked into cyclist-friendly accoutrements -- like shiny scarves that'll keep you stylish and safe and DIY seat covers that'll give your tush more cush.
Got more cycling on the cheap tips? Share them in the comments!
BlogHer Contributing Editor Siel rides a pink Townie around town. She also blogs at greenLAgirl.com.