Feeling the pinch

Gas prices are consistently flirting with the $4 mark, and with the prices rolling up and down like a ride at Michigan's Adventure, many Tri-Cities residents are looking to alternatives.
Alex Doty
Sep 28, 2012


The Tribune asked its readers what they’re doing, and you responded. Here’s a sampling of the fuel-saving measures some of you have taken.

Biking to work

Mike Workman gets around Grand Haven just fine on two wheels.

The 26-year-old commutes at least 10 blocks a day roundtrip for work, plus pedals additional miles for errands. His wife, Tiffany, also rides her bike during the warm months to work, a two-mile roundtrip.

“We have a urban utility bike that has an extended wheel base that is like a trailer,” he said. “We can load all of our things in there and go to the grocery store.”

Workman noted that the size of Grand Haven makes it ideal for biking to work and to stores.

“Grand Haven is a 2.5-mile-long city essentially from the bridge to Comstock Street, and all the retail businesses are in that area,” he said. “It’s the perfect distance to ride a bike back and forth.”

Workman said that while the savings in gas isn’t immediately noticed by pedaling short commutes to work, but the costs all add up when factoring in wear and tear on the couple’s Saturn station wagon.

“I believe you can get to a lot of places faster on a bike than you can in a car, and it’s a bit nicer seeing the city on two wheels,” he said.

Making the switch 

Spring Lake Township resident Eric Rennie has also made the switch from four wheels to two.

“I’ve always enjoyed cycling and trying to stay in shape,” he said. “For years, I worked in Holland and lived in Spring Lake.”

With a 27-mile commute each way to Holland, Rennie said it was impractical to bike to and from work with the distance he faced.

When he got a job at Grand Haven Stamped Products five years ago, the bike commute was more doable.

“I average about 3,400 miles a year going to work,” he said, noting that he now bikes rain or shine, winter or summer. “It’s a great way to stay in shape and make it a part of your regular day.”

Rennie sold his Subaru once he began biking and he doesn’t consider taking a car now. Rennie’s wife has a company car and there is a family vehicle for his children to use.

“I personally don’t purchase gas except for the lawnmower or snow blower,” he said.

Making biofuel 

Nate VanVelzen of Crockery Township is helping people deal with the high price of fuel by making it himself.

“I make biodiesel and it is my own recipe,” he said. “I collect waste grease, make it into fuel and sell it to farmers.”

VanVelzen said he first got the idea to make fuel after reading an article about someone who made an engine that ran on peanut oil. The engine was displayed at the World’s Fair.

In addition to fueling farm vehicles, VanVelzen said he’s also used the mix to power his own vehicles, and helped light homes and power factories in the Grand Haven area.

“We powered the Grand Haven Board of Light & Power diesel plant for 9 months,” he said. “We were able to increase output and reduce emissions.”



Sad, when in the early seventies this same issue came up. Everybody bought the small cars, everybody road bikes, even reduced highway speeds from 70 to 55, and we all cut back on travel. 40 years we are in the same cycle, believing we are supposed to settle for this third world country notion. The US used to be the leader in innovation...what happened?


Innovation got outsourced too!


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