High gas prices fuel rise in bike sales

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Muncie - Bike shops across Indiana are reporting a surge in business as motorists eager to cut down on their gasoline expenses turn to peddling their way to and from work.

Ken Hardin, who co-owns Hardin's Bike Shop in Muncie, said he and his partner have seen their store's sales grow by close to 25 percent compared with this time last year as high gas prices fuel interest in biking to work.

"People are getting out their old bikes, getting them refurbished and getting them ready to ride on the trails and save gas," Hardin said. "Bikes that hadn't been ridden in years are coming out of the shed."

Other bike shops around the state have also seen rising business, although not just from new bike sales. They're also repairing older bikes and selling baskets, car racks and other items intended to make a rider's commute easier.

For some city dwellers, their bike is becoming their main source of transportation, allowing them to save on gas while also getting some exercise.

"Now, it's more of 'I want to run errands using my bike instead of driving around,"' said Jason Allardt of Kirk's Bike Shop in Muncie. "If it's not too far, just get on your bike and ride down the street."

Goldman's Bike Shop in the central Indiana town of Selma hasn't seen an increase in bike sales, but it has had more requests for used bikes and repairs, said co-owner Marilyn Goldman.

She and her husband, DeWayne, said they wish more people could take advantage of biking in rural areas, but for many it's too far to their jobs.

"It's a good start when people start thinking, 'How can I get there besides using gasoline?"' she said. "But people would have to live closer in (to the city) so they could use a bicycle."

In Evansville, 28-year-old Aaron Dunlap began making his 7.6-mile commute to work on his 1980s Schwinn back in May and now he likes it.

"I didn't know I could do it," Dunlap said.

His route from Evansville's west side to its downtown area includes using a recreational trail that delivers him to the front door of American General, where he's a computer programmer.

He carries a change of clothes during his commute, which takes less than 30 minutes. His morning trek is mostly downhill, but the journey home can be trying because it's uphill.

Either way, Dunlap said he's learned to be careful.

"You can't get out there and think you're a car. You have to be vigilant. One of the first things I bought was a helmet," he said.

Dunlap is saving nearly $3 a day, getting in shape and doing more recreational riding on the side. He even bought a rack recently in case his wife sends him to the grocery store.

He said that "now that I know I like it" he plans to buy a new bike in October.

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