- Special Sections
- Public Notices
A Louisville-area bike shop recently promoted its business with a sign that simply said, "A bike has no gas costs."
Steve Royalty has been finding that out since purchasing a Specialized road bike on Ebay.
Already an avid cyclist, the Lawrenceburg state government worker has been riding his two-wheeler to his office in Frankfort at least once a week since May. Not only is he taking advantage of the fuel savings, but he has some other benefits as well.
Royalty explains that his decision to use pedals instead of piston power for the 16-mile commute was a combination of factors. "I enjoy riding. It saves gas, which saves money and it's great exercise," he says. "It's win-win-win-win."
That is not to say that everything has been perfect.
Royalty regularly checks the weather forecast to plan his round trips but recently got caught in a surprise rain shower a few miles from his office. "It wasn't too bad. It wasn't raining hard," Royalty said.
Last Friday, Royalty endured the high temperatures when he headed up a long hill on Frankfort's west side by-pass. "Between the heat, hill and humidity, it has been a rough day," Royalty smiled.
And he's also experienced the one problem that cyclists fear the most, a flat tire. "Thankfully, I was not too far from my office," Royalty said. "I picked up something that went all the way through the tire and poked a hole in the inner tube. I called the office and they sent somebody to come get me."
Those problems are minor compared to the benefits, Royalty says. He's been riding for nearly a decade and believes the sport helped his recovery from a heart attack in 2001. When he made the decision to hit the roads at 6 a.m., his wife Dawn was supportive.
"She had come to expect me to ride anywhere from Frankfort to Harrodsburg, so when I told her I was going to ride to work, she only said, 'Be careful,'" Royalty said.
Royalty follows his wife's advice by staying in the emergency lane on the shoulder of Highway 127 as much as possible. "I'm really careful at the intersections as I'm not going to rely on car drivers seeing me," he says. "Since I have to go straight through several intersections, I have to merge over onto the edge of the right lane due to cars coming over into the right turning lanes.
"I haven't had any close calls, but I'm always watching and trying to look ahead to plan where and when to get over."
Royalty usually arrives at his office shortly after 7 a.m. where he changes from his riding shorts and t-shirt to business attire he leaves at the office. Afternoons could be a bigger problem with thousands of state workers heading home at the same time. "When possible, I try to get out of Frankfort before 4 p.m. so that I miss most of the mass exodus of state workers," he explains.
So far Royalty's co-workers have given positive feedback. "Only a few have said I was crazy," he says. "Actually, most have said they were impressed that someone would and could do it.
"Another good thing about riding to work is that it usually is not real hot at 6 a.m. so I don't end up sweating much. I'm sure that if I was to sweat a lot, some co-workers, justifiably, might have something negative to say then."
It is certain that no one could argue that they can do nothing about rising gas prices to the former Anderson County High School basketball player. Royalty says he's seeing savings each week. "At $4 a gallon, I figure it costs me $6 a day to drive back and forth to work. It's 16.5 miles to my work and my car gets 22-23 miles to the gallon," he says. "In addition, I'm saving wear and tear on the car."
Royalty, who also serves as seventh-grade boys' basketball coach at Anderson County Middle School, plans on riding his bike to work until his duties and time demands with the Mustangs make pedaling impossible. "Actually, by that time, it will probably be too cold to ride anyway," he says.
Until that time, Royalty will be heading up and down 127 at least once a week, relying on his own energy instead of high-priced gas.
"I don't know of anyone else (from Anderson County) riding their bike to work in Frankfort," he says. "However, I have seen a guy riding from the Frankfort direction toward Lawrenceburg several mornings."
For now, Royalty pedals the road alone but says others can enjoy the "win-win-win-win" situation by just getting on a bike.
"I would welcome riding with others if they would like to give it a try," he says.