Incorporating trikes into fun-yet-frugal retirement plan

Laurie Boylan tests out a trike during a recent presentation in Bay Village.

I retired this past May at the age of 58 after forty years of secretarial and legal assistant work. I made the big decision that I would rather be a "poor happy person"  than continue working full time until the official retirement age of 65. I am enjoying the free things in life and living the most frugal existence possible.  

I've been thinking about tricycles (or trikes, as the hip people say) ever since spotting a number of people pedaling around on them in the Bay Village area, where I reside, and surrounding communities. It looked like it could be fun to do an all-day outing on a trike – pack lunch, stop at a park on the lake, library, then shopping and errands in the center of town. It made me think that perhaps if I owned one, maybe I could survive without a car? The basket is large enough for at least a weeks' worth for groceries for myself.

Owning a trike has many benefits, the most important one being the health benefits associated with the exercise. Even if one must also own a car, the health benefits alone of a trike would be worth its weight in gold. Pedaling instead of driving will help the environmental  cause. The cost of NOT owning and operating a car will be a huge savings for my frugal budget. I realize that there will be unexpected or emergency circumstances now and then in which a car will be needed, but there are other options. Perhaps a taxi, an RTA bus or renting a car could work. Or possibly a family member or friend could even help out in those situations that hopefully don't occur too often.

So already having an interest in these curious machines, I was thrilled to attend a tricycle class offered at the Dwyer Senior Center on Sept. 27. The informative class was sponsored by the Village Bicycle Cooperative located in Bay Village, a wonderful organization I had never heard of before this class. The mission of the Village Bicycle Cooperative was explained to us by a VBC board member, Carl Gonzalez. Next, one of the VBC volunteers, Dick Dillon, talked to us (from firsthand experience) about the many considerations of buying and owning a trike. It was a great learning experience, with a touch of some very good humor. If this class is ever offered again, and you have an interest in tricycles, I would highly recommend attending.

Among many, a few items of discussion were regarding cross-walk safety and laws, price range, consideration of size of the tricycle as relating to storage and door entries, how to "walk" a trike, and canopies. We even got to test ride two different size trikes. It was also interesting to learn that people with various medical conditions that make them unable to walk a distance, such as a breathing problem or back injury as examples, are still able to ride a trike and get some exercise and freedom. As the instructor explained, this has to do with the fact that you are not supporting your own body weight when riding the trike.

My dear, sweet 86-year-old father has advised me to get it out of my head – "it's not possible to go carless in today's society" – but since when does a kid ever listen to their parents?! So for now, I will continue dreaming, saving up for, and plotting how to incorporate a trike into my retirement days.

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Volume 5, Issue 22, Posted 10:27 AM, 10.29.2013