Re: Life Without Cars
- It took a decade for me to get to the point where I felt able to divorce my
car having driven cars since I was 17 in 1959.
It should have been easier for an academic with all the facilities for
hot-desking on campus and teleworking from home. I think I had to get the
car out of my head before I could get it out of my hands. Birmingham UK is
reasonably well covered by public transport and has a big network of canal
towpaths. The other big condition is that while I am carfree and glad of it
- our household is not. My wife still has a car which I borrow rarely to
carry heavy stuff. I also use it with her driving if we go out to visit.
Linda does the main shopping. The kind of changes needed to get my family to
copy me and that Joel has been writing about require transformation of
settlement patterns, reform of rapid transit and urban re-design - on an
immense scale. Those things will take much longer and require far greater
commitment than I needed just to divorce my car. I think that barring some
crisis like 9/11 which had many NYs getting on bicycles for a while change
has to come psychologically and through the slow grasp of the way a carfree
city might be. Asking people to take on the panoply of great theories about
the character of cities including Joel¹s work that look to reduce or
eliminate autodependency is a tall order. It raises the question of whether
you get a kid a bicycle for Christmas (or Eid or Diwali or ...) or that
great book by Jane Jacobs. Gosh I wish there was a children¹s version of
that with chapters on cycle maintenance and DVDs of city cycling and walking
then you could give them the multimedia-book and the bike.
Happy New Year 2009.
On 29/12/08 07:33, "Matthew Thyer" <matt_thyer@...> wrote:
> I just caught up on some reading and went through the "Manfred" posts. I'd
> suggest, not that I'm defending anyone here, that there is a certain level of
> frustration that comes with living a car-free or car-light lifestyle and its
> possible that Manfred may be experiencing this. I've found it to be a
> progression of little things that add up over time that make it increasingly
> difficult to stay optimistic in the face of this growing monster we're all
> kind of stuck with.
> I'm guessing here, but Manfred's tone appears to me to be one of frustration.
> Where's the help from government? Why must cars stink up the air in cities?
> When will it stop raining in Seattle and Portland? Choosing to take your
> bike, walk, or ride the bus or train is a personal decision that no one will
> help you with. There are fewer support organization around today for people
> trying to make the "right" decision than there is aid for those who simply
> don't care. You and I and everyone else who's ever tried to live in a reduced
> carbon footprint know that this is the "high road" which is never easier to
> That said the high road comes with its own rewards not available to those who
> avoid this path. You can only realize these rewards by continuing to climb.
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- On Dec 30, 2008, at 3:01 AM, Simon Baddeley wrote:
> The other big condition is that while I am carfree and glad of itGood points about civic layout, but we can't really wait for the
> - our household is not. My wife still has a car which I borrow
> rarely to
> carry heavy stuff. I also use it with her driving if we go out to
> Linda does the main shopping.
powers-that-be to change the world for us. We have to change our way
of living first, and create a demand that they will eventually fill.
Government is generally reponsive (if you're lucky) rather than
proactive--and then, of course, you have to fight against the big
noise of corporate lobbying that usually overwhelms the voice of
I did all the shopping for a family of three for years on a standard
bike. New and relatively cheap bicycle tehcnologies--particularly
longtails--are becoming available that are specifically designed to
replace cars for families. I am myself considering buying a German-
made Yuba Mundo (well below US$1K) for hauling my business inventory
around, which i now do rather inconveniently by bus or standard bike,
or on foot. This bike can carry up to 400 pounds/180kg. I mention it
because it's the cheapest readymade solution (originally designed to
provide cheap goods transport to poor African communities). All
these longtails were inspired by the Xtracycle attachment which
converts a standard bike to a cargo carrier.
These have been taking off in Los Angeles, of all places--Ground Zero
of Carmageddon--and the burgeoning use of bikes here has made bicycle
accommodation a normal part of civic planning discourse. This
"softens the target" for eventual carfree districts. We are making
our own history here, in effect. Guerilla signs pop up denoting bike
crossings at difficult intersections; they are eventually taken down,
but then discussion has actively begun on converting certain streets
to "bike boulevards," in which car travel is severely restricted
while bicycles have through travel rights.
At the corner of Heliotrope and Melrose, sings indicate a "bicycle
district." They are on commercial rather than public property--
several bicycle-oriented businesses are there, including the Bicycle
Kitchen--and so they remain. And now, there are suddenly 16 bike
parking racks in a 30 meter stretch--installed by the city!
Small things, but most beginnings are.
Yuba cargo bikes: http://www.yubaride.com/index.html
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