Fuel prices made driver swap his car for a bike

23/03/11

Man fills car up with petrol

Average UK petrol and diesel prices have risen by up to 5p per litre in the past month.

Motoring groups say the record high is taking its toll on drivers, and want a planned 1p price hike to be scrapped

Prime Minister David Cameron has promised "progress" on the issue, with Chancellor George Osborne set to reveal government spending plans today.

Newsbeat spoke to 19-year-old Leon Stoneman - he said fuel is so expensive that he now cycles to work.

Leon is a delivery driver in Basingstoke and said he can't afford to use a personal car anymore.

'It's a nightmare'

Leon Stoneman
Image caption Unleaded petrol cost £1 per litre when Leon got his car - now it costs £1.33

"I got my Vauxhall Vectra a car a couple of years ago. It's a nice big car, electric windows, and a 2-litre engine.

"But at the time, buying fuel wasn't a problem. It was only about a pound for unleaded then.

"I used it to commute and for going out with mates and really enjoyed it.

"But now it's a nightmare. I can't afford to keep it going."

At his local petrol station, it's £1.33 per litre for unleaded fuel and £1.38 per litre for diesel. Leon says it's infuriating.

"Everything's getting cut back on but fuel is a necessity. Filling up was costing me about 30 to 65 pounds a week.

"I work from 9 and my job is about a 15 minute drive from home.

"Getting caught in rush hour traffic and having that constant stop starting was eating the petrol.

"I just couldn't keep it running - fuel costs, insurance and tax renewal all adds up. So I thought I'll just cycle everywhere."

'Lost some weight'

Leon Stoneman
Image caption Leon said he's saved money and got fitter since he started cycling

For Leon that makes a difference in his debt.

"I'm not saving a lot but at least I'm not paying for the car and rent.

"Also I've been able to treat myself to stuff like a £10 CD, video games and going out to the pub a bit more.

"I'm thinking about getting some new trainers as well."

As well as saving him some cash, he says it's keeping him fit which is ideal as he's hoping to join the army in a few months.

"I've lost some weight and got into shape.

"I think more people should cycle because driving can definitely make you lazy. But everyone's circumstances are different I guess.

But Leon did admit swapping a big car for a big bike can raise a few eyebrows with workmates.

"I get a bit of banter from people at work for coming in with a bike, they say 'look at him with his flash bike.' But I can take it."

He hasn't got rid of his car and uses it every now and again when he has to. He keeps it running on as little fuel as possible.

"I reckon the cost will hit £2 a litre one day. When that happens, I'll take it off the road.

"For me to start using it again, prices would have to go back to about a pound a litre. But I know that will never happen."