I'm not the only one at the market that does everything by bicycle. There are actually a number of individuals that transport their goods using a bicycle trailer. This is one of those many individuals, and the first in a series of posts featuring Missoula's very own brand of bicycle entrepreneurs.
Meet Deborah Marshall
Deborah has been a vendor selling handmade jewelry at the People's Market of Missoula for two years. She works as a professional massage therapist and jewelry has always been a hobby that she has recently turned into a more serious venture.
Here is the interview that I conducted with Deborah both at the market and through email.
You said your car had broken down and thats why you had gone carfree, could you provide details about what happened and when?
My car was a 1987 Isuzu Trooper, and in mid April, the timing belt broke about 6 blocks from my house. The engine is shot, and would have to be rebuilt, and would be very expensive. Last summer even with a working car I rode my bike 90% of the time. As long as the weather is decent I will choose the bike most of the time.
Which do you prefer, bike or bus?
In the summer I prefer the bike, or putting the bike on the bus, which is what I do if I have to go out towards Costco area. In the winter I ride the bus more often, because of the ice on the roads.
How long have you been a vendor at the market?
This is my second year to be a vendor at the market. I rode the bike with the cart all last year for the market.
Is it difficult carrying your equipment without a car, both for the market and on the bus for your massage therapy work?
Actually it is not hard using the bike cart and carrying my stuff for both market and seated massages. I also don't have any trouble carrying my massage chair on the bus. But I also play the harp and that I can not carry in the cart or on the bus.
Do you feel differently about cars now that you live a life without using one?
Here in Missoula I would much rather ride the bike unless the weather is really bad. I also don't like riding in 100 degree heat. I know that I would not like riding a bike in a major urban area because of the traffic. I feel that a car is sort of an unfortunate necessity in many instances in our culture, and because of my harp I need a car. If we had really good public transportation that would make a huge difference in my decisions about using a car.
My biggest complaints about the bus system is they don't come around often enough, don't go to some of the places I need to go, don't run long enough in the evenings, don't run a full schedule on Saturdays, and don't run at all on Sundays. I would be a big supporter of trains, especially to places like the Bitterroot valley, north to Polson, and really everywhere. And if there were decent bus systems at your destination, I think it would eliminate a lot of car driving. True public transportation should as much as possible meet the peoples needs not force people to meet their agendas, that is the only way we will be able to get people to choose to use public transportation.
Would you recommend being carfree to others?
I do recommend biking as an alternative to cars all the time. In most instances it is much better as far as I am concerned. Of course up here winter is a huge problem. I am not interested in being on our icy roads, even with studded bike tires.
Also the snow plow berms eliminate an "escape" route if you are forced off the road by bad drivers or a sliding car out of control. Many many of the residential streets and less traveled streets which I routinely ride on to get out of the way of traffic are in very bad shape snow and ice wise in the wintertime.
How has being carfree changed other aspects of your life?
Of course there is the exercise aspect of a bike which is great but also I think a bike is more peaceful, I love being able to tool along at a much slower pace and see the flowers and gardens, I love being about to say hello to someone in passing, or even stop to talk, which is not usually possible in a car.
I really like the fact that a bike does not isolate you from the natural world and other people like a car does. Riding a bike does force one to plan ahead more. It is so easy to just "hop in the car and go" and for me choosing to ride the bike takes a little more forethought, especially in managing my time, so that I leave early enough when riding the bike.