Before the morning haze is lifted and the dew on fallen leaves has dried, you may find him blazing down the bike lane of 13th Street. Rain or shine, he’ll be out there most mornings. It’s tough to miss the green, three-foot longboard as he pushes his way to an 8 a.m. Economics class. All of this while a morning drizzle continuously slaps him in the face.
Transferring to the University of Oregon from a community college in his hometown of Irvine, California has forced Ryan Fisher’s eyes to a new world – one that may require some lifestyle changes. The 35-degree wind chill with rain in Oregon is simply not the same the 75 and sunny weather that he was once accustomed to. I can justify this, coming from Southern California myself. Although his flip-flops, board shorts and vast majority of his old wardrobe collects dust in the back of his closet, one item remains that Fisher keeps by his side at all time to remind him of home.
“I ride pretty much everywhere. Unless it’s really windy and rainy at the same time, I take my board over car every time.”
The silver Honda CR-V parked in front of the apartment complex hasn’t been driven in over two months, Fisher claims. Regardless of destination – class, the grocery story, a friend’s house, longboarding is always the preferred method of transportation for the junior.
Although his ambition to longboard can likely be traced back to his “SoCal” roots, there is alternative reasoning as to why Fisher elects to skate everywhere.
“Gas is too expensive. I have other things I could be using that money for” he explains while adjusting his matte black Nixon watch on his left wrist. “It’s crazy how much money you can save up here [Eugene, OR] compared to back home just by cutting back on driving.”
Eugene seems to accommodate for a more simple, small-town lifestyle, at least for the nearly-LA native. The number of people who utilize alternative transportation in Eugene is impressive to say the least. There is a sense of pride and accomplishment for those who can live without a conventional automobile. Fisher’s perspective on alternative transportation is one that is likely shared amongst others in Eugene.
“I feel like I’m making my small contribution to keeping Eugene beautiful by not driving. I’m not paying for gas and I’m not polluting the air… and I’m saving money. It’s like a win-win-win.” The tone of his voice sounded as if he had just reached a personal epiphany. The smirk on his face as he nodded his head up and down confirmed these realizations.
The stained, torn and discolored Vans he wore reflected the wardrobe of hundreds, if not thousands of similar college students across the nation living on a tight budget. Unfortunately, certain sacrifices and compromises must be made everyday in order to make ends meet. A student, such as Fisher, who is paying for his or her own college education is already well aware of these sacrifices and compromises.
Spencer Verrill is one of Fisher’s three roommates. The two knew each other back in Irvine and attended the same community college before transferring to the University of Oregon. The decision to become roommates this year has forced two completely different lifestyles to coexist under one roof.
“I just don’t understand the purpose of having a car up here [Eugene] if you’re not going to use it”, Verrill stated with animosity.
Luckily for Verrill, one of the other roommates (not Fisher) also has a car in Eugene who is not opposed to driving to the grocery store or mall.
“He never lets anyone else drive it [Fisher’s CR-V], even if it’s just down to the store. Sorry if I don’t want to walk a mile in the pouring rain [while] carrying a gallon of milk.” The sarcastic tone in his voice conveyed a building temper towards the subject.
Clearly, there are two different points of view on alternative transportation, if not more. Comparing the pros and cons between methods of travel could be helpful, but, as Fisher might suggest, a little self-evaluation in front of the mirror might be more beneficial.
When asked to explain life without an automobile, Fisher proudly said that, “Some people can do it and some people can’t. It’s not always easy, but the sense of freedom that comes with it is worth it in my opinion.”