Friday, October 30, 2009

Random Bicycle Crap Fridays

This is really random, but I find it pretty funny. I have numerous articles of clothing that have a bicycle theme. All but one of these have I actually purchased, while the rest have been given to me as gifts. Most have come from my fiance, Ashley, and include many t-shirts. Her last present is... you guessed it, the boxers you see above. I just couldn't resist putting this online for my Friday post; what is more absurd than doing a whole post on a pair of boxers?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Reaching Gen Y and Younger

An interesting discussion has cropped up over at the Carfree Cities list serve associated with about how all us bicycle and carfree advocates can reach people under 24.

Its a challenging proposition since I feel like my generation is so full of contradictions. We are simultaneously one of the most self-centered, self-absorbed generations while also becoming one of the most engaged and informed age groups. A recent report from the UK found that people in their twenties waste the most energy and have the least knowledge about energy use. At the same time people from my generation greatly involved in trying to push for change regarding energy policy, climate change, and so on. Many are in fact giving up their cars and trying to live in simpler ways. And this trend is being noticed in a lot of media, such as here.

I don't think that a large generalization about car-free being a new trend among young people can be made. Certain cities and areas of the country are seeing an amazing amount of growth in non-motorized transportation, but at the same time large segments of the country are still not experiencing such a cultural shift.

We also can't think of the "young" as being a monoculture. Here in Missoula, MT there are two high schools with two different cultures. One is set in our urban core with almost no parking; most of the students walk, bike, or take our public transit (since there is no room for school buses to park and drop off kids). There must be between 100-200 bikes parked at the high school ever day. The other is more suburban, and has a parking lot the size of several football fields with kids getting there with either a vehicle, dropped off by parents, or on a school bus.

Local culture is probably the most important factor. If there is no bicycle culture present in a city, the work that must be done to get people on board with bicycle transportation and for them to see the need to get out of the car is hugely increased. All the blogs, books, and newspaper articles written about the new trend, environmental, and health concerns will do little.

Much of the cultural change that is taking place is happening in cities that already had a significant bicycle culture presence and that culture has finally grown in numbers to become more important and more visible. I agree that social interaction person to person is probably the most powerful and effective way to spread such ideas. Having that local culture that someone can connect to, have fun, learn new things, meet friends, and become engaged is important because without those opportunities all the information that is being put out there wont inspire anyone.

My experience is that a lot of books about such things are read by people that are already interested in the subject or are already believers. The same with blogs are true, many of my readers and the people that comment are themselves activists and other bloggers. Such things are aids to spreading such cultural ideals as being car-free or living in an environmentally responsible manner but cannot replace the influence of friends, family, and local community.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Sorry for the prolonged absence from the blogosphere, but it was something I think I needed. It been about two weeks since my last post and during that time, I haven't even been keeping up with other blogs I read or going through the copious emails from various listserves I subscribe to. Let me tell everyone that it felt relaxing not to have to keep up with everything and have that nagging little voice constantly reminding me that I need to read this or right a post for that.

I have, however, spent some of that time off to think about exactly what the point of this blog is beyond the main purpose of keeping a journal about being carfree. The content that I have been posting has not been of the quality I feel that I should be creating and much of it has felt lazy to me. So, in the future I hope to create more work of a higher quality; putting more thought into each post and posting less frequently.

Why the rethink? I set out thinking that I would use this blog not only to chronicle being carfree, but as a platform to write and hopefully discuss urban design theory, concepts, and design. In this respect I have so far failed. I would like to aim to make this blog more along the lines of two of my favorites; the Proper Scale and Discovering Urbanism blogs.

So... with my carfree journey more than half way over I will be aiming to make this a more thoughtful affair, although I wont be getting rid of all the ridiculousness. And now for a few stat updates.

Week 28

Miles Biked: 28.58
Gallons Saved: 1.78
CO2 Not Emitted: 11.22 Ibs

Week 29

Miles Biked: 65.12
Gallons Saved: 4.07
CO2 Not Emitted: 25.56 Ibs

Month 7

Miles Biked: 187.77
Gallons Saved: 11.73
CO2 Not Emitted: 294.8 Ibs

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Riding with Swiney

I'll just start by saying that swine flu really sucks. We've all had the flu before, but for those that are on their bikes excessively, this one pretty much takes you out at the knees. Why? Because this thing really hits you in the lungs. Hell, I'm getting winded just getting up from the couch and walking to the kitchen.

On Monday I rode to campus while I was just starting to feel bad. The temperature was hovering around 10 degrees and the streets were virtually deserted of over cyclists. The cold air mixed with a tight chest made cycling pretty difficult.

Its now been two days since I have gotten on a bike and I have been getting around by carpooling. Although thats not much since I have basically living on the couch for the last two days.

So enjoy your experience with swine flu... I know I am. Time for another movie.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Week 27 Carfree Stats

Calculate your carbon emissions @

Miles Biked: 52.91
Gallons Saved: 3.3
CO2 Not Emitted: 20.71 Ibs

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Better Living Through Density - A Video by David Baker

A Small Annoyance

Now that its cold my usual cable bike lock is a pain to use. The cold air makes it stiff and difficult to flex or to fold into small loop that can fit in my bag.

This is just one of those small details you forget when its not right in front of you. Guess this means I'll start having to use my u-lock.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Game Changer

It is here... winter that is. Until a week ago Missoula seemed to be experiencing a prolonged summer, with temperatures in the 80s up until the beginning of October. Now this morning it is 20 degrees out.

Not a big inconvenience, but the cold isn't helped by the unique topography of the Missoula valley. This time of year, as the suns declination declines in the sky, our favorite Mountain in Missoula seems to get in the way of the suns warming rays. Its 8.30 and the sun is just visible, but over at campus, which is right under the mountain, it will be another hour before the sun starts to warm the area.

Still... this means its that time of year to start layering clothing for the morning commute. I think I might also have to start riding something other than my fixed gear, since the only shoes that feel comfortable on that bike are not necessarily that warm.

This is just the beginning of a long winter, lets see if I can keep up this carfree thing when it hits -30 degrees.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pictures From Missoula's 2009 PedalFest

I finally made it through a few my photos from this years Pedalfest. So, I'll let the photos speak for themselves. Enjoy.

Week 26 Carfree Stats

Calculate your carbon emissions @

Miles Biked: 48.36
Gallons Saved: 3.02
CO2 Not emitted: 18.93 Ibs

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Random Bicycle Crap Fridays - Only the coolest PSA ever

Pet Peeve Regarding Motorists Number 1

Throughout my time being carfree there is one nagging behavior that keeps popping up among motorists that really annoys me. The complete disregard certain drivers (assholes) display for a cyclist waiting at an intersection. Here I am in these situations trying to obey traffic laws and be a good little cyclist when some asshole acts like an asshole. Maybe assholes just don't view people on bikes as real people, and therefore they can ignore and marginalize us. We are less then them, we are... sub-asshole. For more on the subject of assholes, cars, and the cyclists they hate, you should read this blog post from the Boston Biker Blog, explaining how to deal with assholes.

Over and over again while I wait patiently at intersections, a vehicle will come from behind and not stop after me, but pass and stop in front of me at an intersection. It happened again yesterday and seems to happen regardless of whether I have taken the lane or am waiting behind another vehicle.

At the intersection of Scott and Toole, I stopped behind an SUV turning left, about ten seconds later a Chevy truck pulled up and rather than acknowledge me, nudged in behind the SUV. When I waved at the driver to get his attention and using my hands to explain, not the middle finger, that I was there before him, he just looked at me and shook his head in apparent disgust. At which point, when the SUV got an opening to go, I quickly moved forward to block the asshole from moving forward.

At the same spot a month back I was the only one at the intersection trying to take a left but cross traffic was to heavy to find an opening when an Eclipse pulled up, passed me, and without stopping peeled-out into traffic. Of course I learned a valuable lesson then... Eclipse are officially cool again now that I know they can peel-out.

These incidents seem to happen mostly at stop signs. But still, in the 6 months I've been carfree, this has happened 6 or 7 times. Maybe I need something like the clothing below to fend off assholes:

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