Life without a car


Lance Armstrong made a living riding his bike in competitions, pedaling hundreds of miles to be a champion. A Minneapolis family, the Sahaydaks, pedal to live a normal, everyday life.

Tonja and Martin Sahaydak are typical parents; raising children, errands, church, vacations, work and bills. The only exception to this is that the family does not own a motor vehicle. Bicycles are their main mode of transportation.

The decision to sell their van two and a half years ago wasn’t to save the world; it was to save money. The couple, who have been married for more than 15 years, felt that they were relying on something that was costing too much money. Tonja said things became financially frustrating and after budgeting, the van was the obvious commodity to lose.

The original plan was to go two months without a vehicle, Tonja said. But it was working so well for the family that they continued for a year, then two. With some of the money saved, they were able to finish the basement, which they could not have done if they had not sold the van.

Tonja said the plan was easy, especially since they set short-term mile-markers to achieve. It may have been easier for them because Tonja and Martin have both raced amateur mountain bikes in Michigan.

“It simplified life,” expressed Tonja. “We are about a half mile away from everything.”

Not only did the Sahaydaks save money, but they also saved time, especially since they cut down on the constant running of errands. Instead of making a couple of trips to Target a week, they will make one list and go a couple of times a month on their mountain bikes. The family also orders groceries online from Simon Delivers. The time, which they lost when they depended on their van so much, leaves more for the kids, Justice, 8, Jarod, 7, and Josie, 3.

When asked how she feels of biking everywhere, Justice softly said, “We can’t go to the mall as much, but it’s great exercise so I don’t get fat.”

Riding everywhere may be difficult at times, but Martin looks at it as a challenge. The trip to work at Quality Bicycle Products in Bloomington, takes about an hour, both ways.

“I love being on a bike,” Martin said confidently. “I enjoy spinning.”

The only reason the family would purchase a vehicle again would be for the kids. Going long distances is hard, said Tonja. The bus and light rail are convenient, but she does not want to make five transfers.

Ryan Zickemann is a student at the University of Minnesota and an intern at the TC Daily Planet.