Motorists turn to pedal power
By ADRIAN MILLER
WHY don't you go and jump ... on your bike?
As petrol prices continue to soar throughout the Clarence Valley, many residents are purchasing bikes in a bid to ease the strain on their finances.
Other people are going to more extreme lengths, exploring the feasibility of converting their petrol- and diesel-powered vehicles to gas.
With petrol hovering around the $1.30 per litre mark in Grafton yesterday, many locals are fed up and are giving up engine power for good old-fashioned pedal power, according to Grafton's Goodies Bike Centre owner, Diane Roberts. Mrs Roberts said there had been a rapid increase in demand for bikes, with nearly all customers blaming fuel prices for their decision.
"We have seen a noticeable increase in enquiries and sales in around the last 10 days," she said.
"People have said they've got to give away the car because fuel's just getting too expensive."
But bikes aren't the only option, with fuel conversions a hot topic of debate according to one Grafton mechanic.
"I get people asking all the time (about converting their cars)," the mechanic said. "Every day we have at least one person ask us about changing over."
But with a conversion costing a minimum of $2500, he said it was not an option for most motorists.
"You've got to be doing around 30,000 kilometres to 40,000 kilometres a year and to keep the car for around three to four years for it to be worthwhile," he said.
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"Some people think it's cheaper, but it's not really because they don't do the kilometres to make it worthwhile ? the average person only does around 20,000 kilometres a year."
But it's not only motorists who are hurting.
Mostyn Wilson, the owner and operator of Yamba's Liberty petrol station, said the more petrol prices increased, the more their margins reduced.
"Our margins are already short, but if we put the price up we don't sell any petrol," he said.
"We can jack the price up and make five cents a litre, but then no one comes in, so we are stuck in a Catch-22 situation."
Mr Wilson said even though Liberty was consistently the cheapest petrol between Yamba and Grafton, he still copped complaints from disgruntled customers.
"You get more abuse as the price goes up as well," he said.
"When we first opened back in June we were up to 12 cents per litre cheaper than other places, but we just don't have the margins to keep doing it."