I tend to go along with the view that cycling, instead of driving a car, entails pleasure rather than sacrifice, but that is perhaps because I still have aMessage 1 of 10 , Feb 1, 2003View SourceI tend to go along with the view that cycling, instead of driving a car, entails pleasure rather than sacrifice, but that is perhaps because I still have a small car whose mileage I've reduced from an average - 6 years ago - of 20K a year to under 2K. I combine the enjoyment of daily cycling with regular use of buses, taxis, trains and trams relying on a folder.
Pondering the idea of this as sacrifice I recall my early misgivings about all year round cycling before I started doing it.
I'm 60. For most of my adult professional life I'd travelled by trains, taxis and mainly my car. Walking and cycling were leisure activities for which one donned a recreational mind-set to go with the special clothes.
I recall early cycle commutes in wintery rain and wind, wondering at the experience of being "outdoors" on a working day and feeling slight guilt at how I was experiencing commuting into recreation. When work colleagues commiserated with me about the weather I studiously avoided annoying them by saying things like the last time I felt this good was on a ski slope or sailing open waters. Instead I'd shrug manfully and join in a good English grumble thanking them for their concern.
I needed to shift an auto-dependent mind-set (more auto-taken-for-granted attitude) and become more skilful about the transit from indoors to outdoors. This included getting a more elaborate wardrobe of working clothes for daily travel. It's funny how outdoors which the bourgeois (not being rude - that's me too) will take on with style, panache and even reckless bravado on holiday becomes so daunting to them when in office mode.May be the real sacrifice dreaded by would-be cyclists is loss of style. How I wish even at my age that cycling wear wasn't such a combination of functionality and naffness. There's a business to be created here I'm sure.) Some would see winter commuting by bicycle as a sacrifice - because instead of going from parking space (if you have one) into office building with, at most, a raincoat or umbrella, the cyclist often needs to take off various layerings of street clothes including perhaps waterproof trousers, gloves, jacket and hat. Some of this may be quite wet and must be stored somewhere - in a bag or box room or drying space. All or most of this will have to be put on again on departure.
The exercise of going through an "airlock" between outside and inside can be quite complex especially as you need to carry the bicycle, perhaps put that in a bag and at the same time carry laptop and papers etc.
I have become so used to this and I think adept that it is not a sacrifice and certainly better than searching for a parking space, but for the unaccustomed there is a need to become quite adept at multi-tasking if one is to make reasonably graceful and dignified exits from business premises. Though nothing as far as I can see can be done about the hideously embarrassing clothing we need for bad weather.
One of my pleasures, apart from the joys of negotiating the great cities on a cycle, is to arrive at a workplace on a cold wet windy day feeling fit and energetic and step from my road gear in a smart suit ready to be "meeting man". Try for instance departing Marylebone Station after a comfortable two hour train journey and heading south through the maze of central London towards the Thames via Hyde Park or Whitehall. It affords vistas tourists would pay for and gets you through London on a working day less stressed, more smoothly and efficiently than any alternative way of getting around - and that includes going from helipad to helipad! The trouble arises as you present yourself at reception.
Sacrifice? You must be joking ... but I realise why this might not be to everyone's taste and indeed why initially some people might find city cycling stylistically daunting .... but it's certainly not just for the macho types. I regularly see lots of smart women cycling day and night, wet and dry, on my many working journeys across London carrying laptops, courier bags and designing kit - and usually on better bicycles than mine. May be there is the right clothing shop out there for me but I fear I'm a lost cause and that's not a real sacrifice of the kind I have to make by occasionally having to use my car to do someone else a favour.
----- Original Message -----
From: RIIN GILL
Sent: Saturday, February 01, 2003 4:38 AM
Subject: Re: [CF] Re: general attitude
Simon Norton wrote:
> I must confess to getting a bit irritated by those who keep on
> suggesting that cycling brings many benefits and no disadvantages. (I
> should say that I do not wish to name any names, let alone to suggest
> that the relevant people don't have a right to express these views.)
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
I probably used the wrong words to express my general attitude, so let me go into it in greater detail. First of all, I am certainly not accusing anyone whoMessage 1 of 10 , Feb 1, 2003View SourceI probably used the wrong words to express my general attitude, so let me go
into it in greater detail.
First of all, I am certainly not accusing anyone who doesn't feel a sense of
sacrifice of being a liar ! Just as fat people shouldn't accuse thin people of
being liars if they say they can eat as much as they like.
There are four possible ways in which cycling or using public transport might be
1. Some journeys become effectively impossible.
2. Some journeys take a lot longer.
3. Some journeys involve a lot worse travelling conditions (including safety).
4. Some journeys cost more.
As far as 1 is concerned, I think that the vast majority of people should be
able to order their lives so that no essential journeys fall into this category,
provided they are able to find stable jobs in places accessible from housing
they can afford. And I think that the majority of car-free people will develop a
way of automatically filtering out most of those journeys they can't make from
the list of ones they want to make. Both are true of myself.
For 2, it all depends on one's expectation. I don't expect journeys by public
transport to be as quick as by car, but I do feel a sense of resentment when
because of bad timetabling they take much longer than they need. For cycling and
walking, I think that normal people should feel a sense of resentment when their
journey times are extended because their desire lines are cut across by major
highways which form an impassable barrier.
For 3, I agree that those who enjoy cycling may be able to rise above the sense
of danger, and the noise and pollution caused by motorists; but I think they are
and always will be a minority. If we really want the majority of people to cycle
for appropriate journeys I think we have to ensure that they feel safe and that
they don't have imposed on them the noise and stink of cars.
For fully car-free people 4 is unlikely to apply to one's overall travel mix,
but one is still entitled to feel resentful when the lack of direct routes, or
restrictions on peak-time use of affordable fares, or the need to change several
times and pay a separate fare each time, mean that public transport journeys
are poor value for money. Especially when these factors intertwine, so that one
has the choice between several routes each of which is unsuitable for a
different reason. (For the benefit of N American readers I should say that in
the UK many journeys cost several times more if one starts before the morning
peak has ended -- whether or not there are in fact any capacity problems on the
To sum up, from a car-centric viewpoint, yes, cycling or public transport will
always be unsatisfactory. We have to reset people's expectations of what
travelling environment people are entitled to expect. But I believe that the
task of doing so is not made easier when dedicated users of alternative modes
don't show an awareness of the downsides experienced by other people.
First of all, may I repeat that I had no intention of criticising anyone when I started this thread -- it was as much to analyse my own feelings and see toMessage 1 of 10 , Feb 2, 2003View SourceFirst of all, may I repeat that I had no intention of criticising anyone when I
started this thread -- it was as much to analyse my own feelings and see to what
extent they are shared.
The posts which mainly motivated this reply are those of De Clarke and Riin Gill
which came late last night (by UK time).
First of all, of course I don't deny that car-free people feel good ! In a sense
everything we do we do because it makes us feel good (even if it makes us feel
We feel good when we satisfy our bodily or social needs, but we also feel good
when we rise above them. That isn't always a good thing (the case of anorexic
girls was mentioned) but it is essentially what is meant by "sacrifice" -- the
type of sacrifice that we do willingly, that is.
On the other hand, there are certain needs I don't want to rise above. I don't
want to be able to enjoy macho motorists with their danger, noise and fumes. I
don't want to have to wait ages for buses because they get caught up in jams, or
because those who plan timetables can't be bothered to arrange decent
connections, or because I have difficulty finding out where and when they go. If
I have to put up with these to pursue my car-free lifestyle, that is an example
of the unwilling type of sacrifice.
The reason why I introduced the dieting analogy was to show that people who
don't understand the unwilling type of sacrifice can be harmful to the morale of
people in support groups. I think that most of us will be well enough motivated
not to give up for that reason, but not so other people.
I suspect that as a man I think of dieting as something one does for health
rather than social reasons. I dare say many people of either sex diet for social
reasons, but in any case this is irrelevant to the point I was making. Whether
or not the further extension of my analogy discussed by De Clarke was apposite
or not, it wasn't what I had in mind.
Going back to "feelgood", people may even have opposite reasons for feeling good
when they do the same activity. Travelling car-free may indulge one's desire for
the simple life and feeling close to nature, but it can also open up the
intellectual pleasure of planning routes -- which is probably a significant part
of my motivation. Of course, there are the maddening times when every route one
tries has a missing link, or when one can't follow the route because the bus
doesn't turn up or the trail doesn't conform with what one sees on the map.
When people say to me that one has to be a mathematician to work out routes (I
am a mathematician), my reaction, however, is not to harp on the joys of route
planning, it is to include in my campaign manifesto an idea that route planning
should be taught in schools and that children should be encouraged to explore on
their own before they reach driving age.
Similarly, it does not sell me on the joys of cycling when people appear to be
indifferent to the danger and unpleasantness of motor traffic.
Going on to the question of to what extent people's consumer choices are the
business of others, here are two maxims that should be taken to heart:
1. If one consumes goods or services without paying the relevant external cost,
one is robbing other people.
2. If one lives unsustainably, one is robbing future generations.
Earlier I raised the subject of UK reaction to weather. I can now update my
story by saying that according to press coverage many motorists were stuck in
their cars overnight. But they had an emergency support system to rescue them.
As far as I can make out people who were left stranded when the buses stopped
running were on their own. The paper quoted somebody as having been abandoned on
a bus 2 miles from home when the bus had difficulty climbing a hill. The driver
rang the depot and was evidently told to return there. (I may say that there are
alternative routes that could have been taken to avoid the hill.) I know
somebody who was left behind by a late running driver returning to his depot
(and passing near the prospective passenger's home) because the driver had
exceeded his permitted hours and wasn't entitled to take passengers.
The question has been raised of whether local authorities should have been more
prepared. Ours said it would have needed four times as many gritting machines to
cope -- no doubt partly because they were caught up in traffic jams behind other
vehicles that couldn't get through.
To my mind a key factor in adverse weather management has to be to ensure that
people don't take their cars on the road unnecessarily. That means that the
emergency services should offer support to stranded bus passengers, and that
this should be prioritised over rescuing motorists.
... I can understand that. I often need to verbalize my feelings in order to analyze them. ... I m not quite sure what you mean here. Are you just talkingMessage 1 of 10 , Feb 3, 2003View SourceOn Sun, 2 Feb 2003, Simon Norton wrote:
> First of all, may I repeat that I had no intention of criticising anyone when II can understand that. I often need to verbalize my feelings in order to
> started this thread -- it was as much to analyse my own feelings and see to what
> extent they are shared.
> We feel good when we satisfy our bodily or social needs, but we also feel goodI'm not quite sure what you mean here. Are you just talking about pushing
> when we rise above them. That isn't always a good thing (the case of anorexic
> girls was mentioned) but it is essentially what is meant by "sacrifice" -- the
> type of sacrifice that we do willingly, that is.
yourself farther than you thought you could go and succeeding and feeling
good about that? In that case, I don't see what was sacrificed. What did
you give up? What need was not met? My usual bike commutes are 4.5 miles
each way. Occasional trips are a little longer, like a trip to the
dentist is about 7 miles. The first time I rode to my spinning meeting,
about 20 miles, I didn't know ahead of time how I would feel. Would I
feel really tired? Really sweaty? I didn't. I felt fine. I felt pretty
proud of myself. There was no sacrifice. I made sure I had extra water.
When I got to the meeting, I was hungry, even though I'd just eaten two
hours earlier. But there was lots of food at the meeting. I ate. So
none of my bodily needs were unmet. I'm not sure what social needs you'd
be referring to here. I may be missing your point entirely here. Maybe
you could clarify this.
>Well, no. That's not something I enjoy either. In my idea of a perfect
> On the other hand, there are certain needs I don't want to rise above. I don't
> want to be able to enjoy macho motorists with their danger, noise and fumes.
world, cars just wouldn't exist. But I figure the only way I'm ever gonna
have any chance of seeing my utopia is to not drive a car myself. How
does that Gandhi quote go? "We must become the change we want to see in
> don't want to have to wait ages for buses because they get caught up in jams, orI'm not terribly impressed with the buses around here either. That's why
> because those who plan timetables can't be bothered to arrange decent
> connections, or because I have difficulty finding out where and when they go. If
> I have to put up with these to pursue my car-free lifestyle, that is an example
> of the unwilling type of sacrifice.
I ride my bike. I only take the bus as a backup. There were only 4 days
last year when I had to take the bus to work instead of my bike, twice
because there was an ice storm, and twice because my bike was in the shop.
The two days there was an ice storm, most of the people who drive cars to
work didn't make it in at all. As far as bike repairs, I've since figured
out that in *most cases*, it's actually easier to ride to work, then after
the shop opens, ride to the shop, take the campus bus back to work, then
after work, take the campus bus back to the shop to pick up my bike and
ride home. You might be wondering what the difference is since there's
still a bus involved. The difference is the campus buses come every 10
minutes. The AATA (city) buses come every 15 minutes. If I was taking a
bus all the way home, I would have to take an AATA bus, but there's a
weird alternating route that's hard to explain in less than 2000 words.
The short version is I can get home either way, *but* if I happen to get
on the bus at one particular time, which would just happen to be the time
I would get on it after dropping my bike off at the shop after work for
them to do some repair work on it the next day, then the bus would *not*
actually go anywhere near my house, but rather it would stop at a shopping
center some distance away, stop, tell all the passengers they have to get
off, turn the route sign to "out of service" and drive away. So yes, the
bus system could be improved. I realize it's much better than what's
available in some areas, of course, but compared to other areas, it's
pretty dismal. And of course, when I said the buses come every 15
minutes, that's only during the week, during the day and early evening.
Later evening, it's only every half hour. On weekends, it's once an hour.
On weekend evenings, not at all.
That's why I like my bike. I can go wherever I want, whenever I want.
> I suspect that as a man I think of dieting as something one does for healthActually, I don't think dieting is healthy at all. I think it's very bad
> rather than social reasons.
for one's health. Better to eat healthy food and exercise as part of
one's lifestyle, i.e., for the rest of one's life, rather than just pick
some bizarre and unhealthy combination of foods that someone has decided
will make you lose weight, eat that for a few months, maybe lose some
weight, then after the diet is over go back to the old way of eating and
gain back all the weight that was lost and then some. Even if people
decide to actually eat healthy food for their diet, why should it just be
a temporary thing?
> When people say to me that one has to be a mathematician to work out routes (IThat sounds like a good idea. A few months ago I was trying to explain to
> am a mathematician), my reaction, however, is not to harp on the joys of route
> planning, it is to include in my campaign manifesto an idea that route planning
> should be taught in schools and that children should be encouraged to explore on
> their own before they reach driving age.
a coworker how to get to someplace she hadn't been. She looked baffled,
so I said "hang on" and came back to my office and got my map out of my
backpack. Once I showed her on the map, she got it. But she was just
astounded that I carried a map around with me. I was like "what, you
don't?" Then she wanted to know more about the map, where I had gotten
it because she hadn't seen that kind of map anywhere; it was such a useful
scale, and a reasonable size with a city map on one side and a county map
on the other. Well, yeah. It's my bike map. I think a lot of people
just don't refer to maps regularly. I use mine all the time. If I'm
going somewhere I don't normally go, and I'm not sure exactly how to get
there, well, I want to be sure exactly how to get there.
> Similarly, it does not sell me on the joys of cycling when people appear to beWell, I'm not indifferent. It's just that to me, it's even *more*
> indifferent to the danger and unpleasantness of motor traffic.
unpleasant to be *driving* a car than to be riding a bike next to one.
The last time I drove a car, it was just such a wretched experience, I
decided I don't ever want to drive a car again.
> Going on to the question of to what extent people's consumer choices are theExactly.
> business of others, here are two maxims that should be taken to heart:
> 1. If one consumes goods or services without paying the relevant external cost,
> one is robbing other people.
> 2. If one lives unsustainably, one is robbing future generations.
> Earlier I raised the subject of UK reaction to weather. I can now update myI'm a little confused by this. What kind of weather did you have over
> story by saying that according to press coverage many motorists were stuck in
> their cars overnight. But they had an emergency support system to rescue them.
> As far as I can make out people who were left stranded when the buses stopped
> running were on their own. The paper quoted somebody as having been abandoned on
> a bus 2 miles from home when the bus had difficulty climbing a hill. The driver
> rang the depot and was evidently told to return there. (I may say that there are
> alternative routes that could have been taken to avoid the hill.) I know
> somebody who was left behind by a late running driver returning to his depot
> (and passing near the prospective passenger's home) because the driver had
> exceeded his permitted hours and wasn't entitled to take passengers.
there? I must have missed this story.
Interlibrary Loan 734-615-6168
Taubman Medical Library fax 734-763-1473
University of Michigan
If you were riding your bike, you'd be having fun by now.
... Congrats on your new job. I m currently unemployed myself, and using my bike in my job search. Since I live in an urban centre, it s quite easy for me toMessage 1 of 10 , Feb 3, 2003View Source"purple_bovine " wrote:
> As can be seen from the above, I sold out to the dark side. Which isCongrats on your new job. I'm currently unemployed myself, and using
> why I am not bankrupt and not unemployed right now (living in a
> cardboard box might be ecologically sound, but I think it's a little
> drafty). The job I eventually found (3 weeks later) is reachable by
> public transit, so I am, once again, leaving the monster in the
> driveway more often than not (and when not, employing it only to get
> to the train station and taking the train the rest of the way). I
> feel guilty about having acquired said monster, but break my head as
> I may, I have no idea how on Earth I could have remained solvent
> without it over my period of unemployment. Any ideas, for future
my bike in my job search. Since I live in an urban centre, it's
quite easy for me to remain carless, as I don't really have to travel
great distances. I also reside at one of the highest elevations in
the city, so most destinations are an easy, downhill coast. The trip
back home is where I might work up a bit of a sweat.
I'm not bragging; I just consider myself fortunate, and hope at least
some folks might be able to glean something for themselves from my
own experience. My intent is only to contribute something toward
dealing with the /practicalities/ of job searching by bike -- not
condescension or brow-beating. And I understand that some folks just
don't [currently] have the same cycling advantages as myself.
My biggest concern with bicycle-facilitated job searching is
clothing -- I'm just looking primarily for a small warehouse/stockroom
position, so the old "dress one step above that required for the
position applied for" advice is do-able for me. Rather than riding
in "good" clothes to interviews, I just roll up a nice shirt and
pair of trousers, pack them with me, and slip them over the bikewear
in which I ride, before going in for the interview. It's nice to be
able to slip into a washroom to freshen up a bit beforehand, too.
Alcohol wipes can be a Godsend. Especially if your chain falls off
while en-route. You can make your own alcohol wipes with some
paper towels and a dollop of isopropyl alcohol, in a zip-lock baggie.
I've got an inexpensive cordura briefcase, which I bought at some
office supply company like Staples or Office Depot. It keeps my
resumes, cover letters and other documents dry, flat and fresh.
It has pleated sides & bottom, so it expands enough to stuff
other odds 'n ends in there too, like battery bike-lights, etc.
I just toss it in the milk crate on my rear rack. It's a very
I live in Vancouver BC, where rain is rather frequent. So I use
a rain-proof helmet cover, and a cycling-specific rain cape. It's
quite cool since it's so loose-fitting, and it's dry -- especially
with an application of ScotchGard. Full mudguards/fenders are a
must here. Long hair doesn't fair very well under a helmet cover,
but short hair doesn't pose much of a problem. The disadvantages of
the rain cape are: can't signal turns, and it slows one down in
headwinds. My old Union generator and lights really help for
visibility in dismal daytime weather, without having to fuss with
My job-searching approach partly involves riding around the industrial
and commercial areas around town, looking for prospective places, and
noting their addresses. I then look up their phone numbers, call, and
ask for the name of whomever is in charge of hiring. Then I call that
person, and try to arrange a personal interview (if they're not hiring,
it doesn't hurt to ask if they know of anybody who is). I also ride to
various employment resource centres in town, where I can access the
government-provided, on-line Job Bank, print out copies of my resume,
send faxes, etc.
So, what works for me is:
-> living in the heart of a mild-climate city where employment and
job-search resources are readily available within short distances
-> residing at a high elevation, in the geographic centre of town,
so outgoing rides are easy
-> being prepared for the elements
-> not looking for a suit-&-tie job
-> living amidst a vibrant local BikeCulture, with a cycling-encouraging
City Council, and good (& improving) municipal cycling infrastructure
-> just plain liking to ride
-> not even knowing *how* to drive a car, and being totally disgusted
with the local (poor) public transit service ;-)
I realize all this isn't applicable to everybody, but to those for whom
it is -- yes, it *can be* very possible -- even convenient -- to carry
out a bike-borne job search. I guess I'm so blessed, I'd be remiss /not/
to avail myself of the opportunity to do so. It's rather the opposite
of making sacrifices.
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