The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

October 15, 2005

Saying no to gas

MANKATO — Christie and Eric Nelson aren’t going to berate you for climbing behind the steering wheel of your SUV. The Nelsons won’t knock on your door with pamphlets extolling the virtues of walking and biking. And the Mankato couple won’t be picketing local convenience stores begging people to stop wasting so much gasoline.

Instead, the Nelsons, who turn the ignition switch on their car about one day in every five, are content to provide an example for vehicle-addicted Americans — proof that there is another way to move.

But the one time they have trouble holding their tongues is when they hear people with healthy, working legs complaining about the high price of gasoline. An article in The Free Press about people grumbling in response to record fuel costs while doing nothing to change their driving habits prompted Christie Nelson to respond with a lengthy essay.

We talk about the prices at the pump like we do the weather — unavoidable, sure and true. We play the victims of the storm — getting pounded at the pump. This attitude is aggravating to me. If you are able bodied, do not require a vehicle for work and live in Mankato, get moving!

While her essay begins with that semi-rant, Christie Nelson is far from a scold. In fact, it’s a good bet that people who know her consider her to be somewhat upbeat, a bit enthusiastic about life.

Biking and walking pretty much everywhere is really doable, she said. And not only that, it’s enjoyable.

For instance, when she rides her bike from her home not far from downtown Mankato to South Central College, Christie isn’t thinking about that long, sweat-inducing, muscle-fatiguing ride up the hill and out of the valley.

“I cross over the Minnesota River and I look down the river and say, ‘Wow, what an awesome creation. What a beautiful place.’” she said. “... It seems really natural to be able to say ‘Thank you.’ Commuting in a car, I think we miss that — ‘Thank you for today.’”

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