Ashland reacts to high fuel prices

Ashland residents are doing their part in adding to an overall trend of reduced gas consumption in the Northwest.

Outside the Ashland Food Co-op on Friday a group of Ashland residents were enthusiastic about their choice to get energy-efficient cars.

Carol Hoyt lives in Phoenix but commutes to her sewing studio in Ashland and has turned saving energy into a daily game.

"We bought a (Toyota) Prius two years ago and we love it," she said. "It gets 45 miles per gallon; it's great. I drove to Medford yesterday and Phoenix this morning without my gauge moving from full. You start to play this game: How high I can get my gas mileage?"

Stephanie Gould, a 12-year Ashland resident and friend of Hoyt, has also bought a Prius, her dream car.

Ashland "is the only city I've ever been in where you can drive down the street and count the Priuses on the street," she said.

"Is this a Toyota commercial?" Jim Young, another friend and environment-friendly commuter, jokingly asked the women when he walked up.

Buying energy-efficient cars is only one way local residents are reducing the amount of gas they use.

Young, 58, has his own way of cutting down on gas use.

He has lived in the area for 20 years and found himself and his wife driving separate cars from their Talent home to their art studio at the Briscoe Art Wing in Ashland. So he decided to build himself a bicycle and start riding it into town.

"It was the energy thing, becoming a little more conscious about conserving energy. My wife and I would leave home at different times but come back at the same times. It was silly having two cars for two people," he said.

Young put his bike together around January and started taking smaller endurance rides to build up his stamina. He had never been a bicycler before and said he found the idea of riding into Ashland a little daunting at first. Now he can make the six-mile trip in 35 minutes.

"I've gotten to where I'm moving right along," he said.

Since he started bicycling he has noticed a lot more people pedaling around town. He attributes this to people in the Ashland community reacting to encouragement from the greater community, meaning the nation, to do something about global warming and energy conservation.

"The greater community is very important. It affects how we think &

the whole culture about how we get from Point A to Point B. I probably would have never done it without the input from the greater community saying, 'We really need to change,'" he said. "It becomes a cultural phenomenon."

Young believes that individuals can make a difference, but it is really the nation that needs to set an example by making laws and programs that support alternative energy.

"The U.S. government needs to invest in more energy and encourage programs that steer us away from relying on oil," he said. "As a community the laws of the land can help."

As far as getting his wife to ride along with him, he says he is working on it, but until then he is satisfied with the changes he has made to his own schedule.

"I feel overall happier and healthier," he said.

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