Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado

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June 7, 2008
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Gas prices push Eagle County residents to bike, carpool

EAGLE COUNTY " When gas prices hit $3.75 a gallon, Alicia Holder decided to "get serious" about carpooling.

"We said, 'This is ridiculous.' Working people can't afford this," the Sweetwater resident said.

So Holder and three other neighbors started regularly sharing the commute to work last month " Holder and one carpooler live in Eagle, and the other two work in Wolcott.

She estimates she saves $40 to $50 dollars a week on gas, plus she enjoys the company on the hour-long commute.

"We're all flexible," she said. "If someone needs to stay late, we'll stay late, or if someone needs to go early, we'll go earlier. We'll stop off and do our grocery shopping on the way, too."

She sees the savings are worth it, but she wants to buy less gas on principle too, she said.

"It's just greed, it's not supply and demand. And I refuse to give them that much," she said.

With ever rising gas prices " regular unleaded hit $4.30 in Vail this week " many residents are carpooling like Holder, or finding other ways to save on fuel.

East Vail resident Madhi Nair said he started taking the bus to work at the Holiday Inn in West Vail instead of driving his Dodge Magnum.

"I called it quits when it hit the $3.50 barrier. When you have the alternative, it's a shame not to use it," he said.

Nair estimates he saves about $4 a day on gas by cutting out the 15-mile commute to and from work. As prices rise, many other employees have began carpooling, especially those who live in Avon and Edwards, he said.

He hopes the rising prices are just a result of speculation and will come back down, but Avon resident Scott Burger wasn't so optimistic.

Prices will keep climbing, he said.

Burger said he has always biked to work, but lately he has been biking on errands and nearby store trips also. A small trailer that hooks to the back of his bike can carry groceries, boxes and clothes.

"I'll be using it a lot this summer," he said of the trailer. "With everything in Avon so close, there's no sense in using a car. Plus, that's an extra $50 a week that is in my pocket."

Avon resident Kathy Ryan said she doesn't ride to work at Wolcott's Red Sky Ranch, but she tries to bike to do any errands around town.

"I've always driven smaller cars. I have a VW Bug and it costs $60 to fill it. I don't want to spend that much money on gas," she said.

She started taking her two dogs, Zeke and Elvis, to the Edwards dog park by bike, too. They fit nicely into a two-seater trailer behind her bike.

"I just couldn't justify driving down to the dog park," she said.

It seems people are not only driving less, but car sales have slowed also.

Spring and summer is usually when motor vehicle registration is up, but this year it has been slow, Eagle County Finance Director John Lewis said.

"There's just not enough buying and selling of cars, and people are having trouble selling the big SUVs. That's something that's happening nationwide," he said.

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.


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The VailDaily Updated Jun 7, 2008 06:56PM Published Jun 7, 2008 06:56PM Copyright 2008 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.