June 12th was my birthday, and the 200th birthday of the bike. This was super exciting to me – here’s why.
Our two oldest daughters, Kate 17, and Cassidy,13, were in a rollover accident in our little black Echo in Sardine Canyon a week and a half ago. It was midnight so Kate was tired, it was raining and the windshielld wiper was not clearing the window well. She hit the rumble strip, over corrected and before she knew it was upside down. The airbags went off sending out the odor of exposives and some smoke and the roof of the car sliding on asphalt was sparking so Kate thought the car was on fire. She screamed at Cassidy to get out. They managed to both get out through Cassidy’s door before the car came to a complete stop. Miraculously they walked away with very little injury. The cars that first stopped had not seen them get out and were looking in the car for bodies, and a bit confused, when Kate walked up and said they were okay. It was a miracle in which we are, thanking God, and giving credit to our angel daughter, Addy, as a super strong guardian angel who kept them from being killed. Addy is between Kate and Cassidy in birth order, so it seems fitting she would be watching out for them.
A side effect of a car accident, is that you are down a car. At first this seemed a problem that would need prompt attention and remedying. We have three drivers in our household and our only other vehicle is a 15 passenger van that is most often used as a truck, for hauling loads of stuff with the seats out, or a school bus for homeschool group field trips. However, after a couple of carless days, I realized, there could be many benefits to our being a one car family and perhaps this was actually one of God’s “What is Not Seen” blessings.
First, we had already decided we needed to cocoon for the summer. Limiting our families outside engagements, staying home more and just working on routines, habits and relationships (and some home and yard projects). Only 1 car makes it easier to remember and keep that objective.
Second, planning is a skill that Jonathan and I have been painfully struggling with over the past year or so, and with only one car, we will be forced to plan ahead more, to make sure we have our transportation bases covered for the inevitable dr. appointments, grocery trips, etc.
Third, Manufactured hardships and outpatient care for Kate – If we don’t have a car for her, she has to work for her own transportation. She is a good girl, wants to be independent and is working hard to learn how to earn her own way in the world. But we are all human and prone to take the path of least resistance. Jonathan and I often say that in a world of prosperity such as ours, parents must manufacture hardships, such as creating a business just so the children have to work, or holding back on spending money on your children, so they don’t become spoiled. We try, but it is sometimes a blessing to simply not have an easy resource so that our children have to struggle and grow to get what they want.
Fourth, The Bike. Really this is a bunch of exciting blessings all wrapped up in one. Health, socialization, money savings, fun, business focus. When we moved to our half-size house, we also bought bikes for everyone, with the goal of riding bikes or walking most places. Our house is now conveniently close to most of what we need and where we want go, so biking is really feasible. We have done so-so at this goal, because of old habits of driving and its seeming the path of least resistence. Now we are compelled to use our bikes more often, and thereby keep that goal, when there is less often a car available.
Riding bikes is healthier that driving. Exercise, sunshine, fresh air. All are super antidepressants for me, and great for Jonathan’s blood sugar. It is slower travel providing more meditation time when you are on your own.
Socialization is benefited in multiple ways. Emotionally, it gets smiles from our 3 younger children. They all think of biking as play time. The slower travel allows for longer conversations with family members when you travel together. One of our favorite benefits we have noticed when we bike or walk places is that you talk to more of your neighbors. It is a more friendly, social means of travel – you don’t ever recieve road rage, but rather friendly waves, smiles, and “How are you?”s. I like it.
Riding bikes was part of our plan for achieving Financial Independence earlier. We knew we would be adopting changes slowly over a course of a few years, and that optimizing our transportation towards this goal was going to be a fairly big change to make. We have been scared to make the change, but June is the ideal time to start a habit of biking. As Jonathan started researching what kind of car he would purchase to replace our Echo. He started exploring electric cars and then electric bikes. He came to some very fast conclusions that an electric bike could get him comfortably to work on the days he doesn’t carpool, and would take the mileage cost from $0.35 down to less than $0.0085. And that is ignoring the hidden cost advantage of increased health. Yes it will take him longer, but he already is spending an hour a day exercising and can cut that out on bike days, so that becomes a tossup. Also, there is the weather to consider – we live in Utah – and yes we totally admire the toughness of frontiersmen and pioneers and want to increase our stoicism, but we know we have been living in a world where one never has to experience temperatures outside of 10 degrees above or below 70. He is planning to invest in some excellent outdoor winter and rain sportswear. Still the cost doesn’t rise above $0.02/mile. For our family, that is a savings of $4,825 per year. That going straight into retirement savings each year takes a year off our reaching that goal.
This journey down the rabbit hole of bike optimization put Jonathan into the flow. This is what he loves and does incredibly well: Identify requirements, do copious amounts of research into the field, then do calculations to find the optimal solution. He has be working for several months to hone in on a tangible, viable business idea that fit his skills and passions. This “accident” of losing our car, took him much closer, and has him hopping with ideas and drive.
Lastly, Really, truly biking is more fun, and less stressful than driving. It is recreation built into your functionality. It feels good. Tonight I rode 7 miles to look at a property with a friend. It was exhilarating. If there had been a car in the driveway I would have driven. Instead I enjoyed a beautiful evening, said hello to several people along the way, and got a great workout. I love it!
So all in all, losing our car has propelled us further down the road we wanted to go at a faster pace. God’s ways are not our ways, but they are always for our good.