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Re: Life Without Cars

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  • Simon Baddeley
    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.
    Message 1 of 9 , Dec 30, 2008
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      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.

      http://democracystreet.blogspot.com/search?q=amicable+divorce+carfree

      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.

      Simon
      http://democracystreet.blogspot.com
      http://www.inlogov.bham.ac.uk/staff/baddeleys.htm

      On 29/12/08 07:33, "Matthew Thyer" <matt_thyer@...> wrote:

      > Ron,
      >
      > 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
      > traverse.
      >
      > 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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    • Richard Risemberg
      ... Good points about civic layout, but we can t really wait for the powers-that-be to change the world for us. We have to change our way of living first, and
      Message 2 of 9 , Dec 30, 2008
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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 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.


        Good points about civic layout, but we can't really wait for the
        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
        popular desire.

        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
        Xtracycle: http://www.xtracycle.com/

        Rick
        --
        Richard Risemberg
        http://www.bicyclefixation.com
        http://www.newcolonist.com
        http://www.rickrise.com







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