Thursday, August 21, 2008

Doctor sells car, turns to bike for commute

Dr. Shelby Smith says he’s always been an advocate for energy conservation, but in the last few months he’s taken a bold step to be environmentally responsible and trim the family budget. Instead of driving to and from work, he has turned to cycling and jogging as his modes of daily transportation.

For Dr. Smith and his wife, the decision to become a one-car family has required a little extra planning, but he says the financial, health and environmental benefits are worth the trade.

The Smiths live about three miles from where Dr. Smith works at Cox Family Medicine Associates in Hulston Cancer Center. They’re the new parents of an 18-month-old son and, in examining their family budget, they asked themselves if two car payments were really necessary.

“If you have a car payment plus gas and insurance, giving up one car can save hundreds of dollars each month,” Dr. Smith says. Both of their vehicles got good gas mileage, but they decided to sell their Toyota Matrix.

“We sold it to a family that commutes to work, so we were able to help all of us with gas,” Dr. Smith says.

Since then, Dr. Smith has consolidated his daily exercise routine with his commuting, either riding his bicycle or jogging to and from work.

“You get the exercise and save money at the same time,” he says. He arrives at Hulston early and uses a shower in a second floor bathroom to prepare for work.

“I have three sets of work clothes,” he says with a laugh, noting that shuffling clothes between home, the office and the cleaners is one of the adjustments the family has made. Now, though, they’ve settled into a routine.

“Once the details are set up, it’s just another thing you do,” he says. “It forces us to work together to plan out how we’ll use the car together.”

On the days when weather makes riding or running to work impractical, Dr. Smith says taking the city bus is another opportunity to multi-task.

“I’m able to pull out the newspaper instead of dealing with Springfield’s rush hour traffic,” he says.

His favorite days, though, are the ones when he gets a few extra moments of solitude riding through residential streets early in the morning.

“Springfield is a great town for biking because there are so many back roads to ride,” he says. “It’s really peaceful.

“And, it’s a relief to ride by Kum & Go and know that I’m not having to pay for gas today.”