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[carfree_cities] Any existing car free cities in US?

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  • frank zappa
    Hi, I was wondering if there are any cities in the United States that are at least car limited. I seriously doubt any are totally car free, although that would
    Message 1 of 17 , Mar 21, 2000
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      Hi,
      I was wondering if there are any cities in the United States that are
      at least car limited. I seriously doubt any are totally car free,
      although that would be great. Being a somewhat hardcore biker with
      asthma, and having recently gone through a period of obscene
      sensativity to lots of things, but especially car exhaust, it really
      got me thinking. Thinking about how nice it would be to walk outside
      and not smell car exhaust. Maybe I'd smell trees, or flowers, or dog
      shit, any of which would be a wonderful change from car exhaust! I
      wondered how the absence of the incessant hum or tires and motors would
      affect me. I'd probably be one calm dude.
      So anyway, I want to make this happen, or be part of it. I want to live
      in a city where cars are almost non existant. If none exist in the US,
      Lets start one damnit! I'd move anywhere in the US to live in a car
      free city, so how bout it? BTW I found this off of carsrcoffins.com, if
      you like bikes, check it out.
    • J.H. Crawford
      ... I don t believe there is any city in the USA that is even close to carfree. Mackinac (Mackinaw?) Island up in Lake Superior is carfree, but that s no city,
      Message 2 of 17 , Mar 22, 2000
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        > I was wondering if there are any cities in the United States that are
        > at least car limited. I seriously doubt any are totally car free,
        > although that would be great.

        I don't believe there is any city in the USA that is even
        close to carfree. Mackinac (Mackinaw?) Island up in Lake
        Superior is carfree, but that's no city, of course.

        > Being a somewhat hardcore biker with
        > asthma, and having recently gone through a period of obscene
        > sensativity to lots of things, but especially car exhaust, it really
        > got me thinking. Thinking about how nice it would be to walk outside
        > and not smell car exhaust. Maybe I'd smell trees, or flowers, or dog
        > shit, any of which would be a wonderful change from car exhaust!

        I could do without the dog shit, but the rest would be a great
        change. I base many of the arguments for carfree cities on
        aesthic grounds, for which I do not apologize. Breathing
        lousing air, whatever its health effects may be, is not
        pleasant.

        >I
        > wondered how the absence of the incessant hum or tires and motors
        would
        > affect me. I'd probably be one calm dude.

        The near-total absence of mechanized sounds in Venice
        is one of its nicest attributes. It's incredibly peaceful.

        > So anyway, I want to make this happen, or be part of it. I want to
        live
        > in a city where cars are almost non existant. If none exist in the US,
        > Lets start one damnit! I'd move anywhere in the US to live in a car
        > free city, so how bout it?

        Fine with me. Where and when?

        Regards,

        J.H. Crawford
      • frank zappa
        ... I don t know. How could it be done? Could a bunch of like minded car haters just converged on a small town and sort of take it over? Tell enough people in
        Message 3 of 17 , Mar 22, 2000
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          >Fine with me. Where and when?

          I don't know. How could it be done? Could a bunch of like minded car
          haters just converged on a small town and sort of take it over? Tell
          enough people in the right groups and the place would get the
          reputation as a car free town. Or at least a good place to go if you
          want to live car free. I really wanted to get some kind of constructive
          conversation going on how this could be done. I don't have all the
          answers, in fact, I don't have ANY answers. So? Got any ideas?

          >Regards,

          >J.H. Crawford
        • irv Thomas
          Seems like an island, somewhere, might be the best bet. Twenty years ago, at a Futurist Conference in Toronto, I remember taking a small (non-auto) ferry out
          Message 4 of 17 , Mar 22, 2000
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            Seems like an island, somewhere, might be the best bet. Twenty years
            ago, at a Futurist Conference in Toronto, I remember taking a small
            (non-auto) ferry out to a small island several miles from the city,
            where there were actually homes in an auto-free environment. At least a
            dozen, and possibly many more, my memory is vague on that. Talk about a
            consciousness raiser! The feeling of DIFFERENCE was absolutely
            incredible. No streets, of course, just grassland with walking paths
            between the houses, and everything within easy walking distance of the
            ferry landing. It was like finding myself in Alice's Wonderland. Part
            of the island was a city park, as I recall; but the houses had been
            there before the park came, and had a prior right that could not be
            dislodged. The big city was as close as the ferry schedule, of
            course...and as distant as another world!

            Irv
          • Ronald Dawson
            ... You must be writing about the Toronto Islands. Toronto is a nice place, it s the only place in Canada that did not get rid of their trams. Dawson
            Message 5 of 17 , Mar 23, 2000
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              Irv Thomas wrote:
              >Seems like an island, somewhere, might be the best bet. Twenty years
              >ago, at a Futurist Conference in Toronto, I remember taking a small
              >(non-auto) ferry out to a small island several miles from the city,
              >where there were actually homes in an auto-free environment.

              You must be writing about the Toronto Islands. Toronto is a nice place, it's
              the only place in Canada that did not get rid of their trams. Dawson
            • Richard Risemberg
              Catalina Island, about 24 miles of the coast of Los Angeles, is largely (though not entirely) car-free. There are some private cars and a lot of golf carts,
              Message 6 of 17 , Mar 25, 2000
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                Catalina Island, about 24 miles of the coast of Los Angeles, is largely
                (though not entirely) car-free. There are some private cars and a lot
                of golf carts, but most travel is by foot or bicycle (or coastal boat).
                Of course there's only one town and it covers one square mile. But the
                peacefulness is nice.

                Richard

                irv Thomas wrote:
                >
                > Seems like an island, somewhere, might be the best bet. Twenty years
                > ago, at a Futurist Conference in Toronto, I remember taking a small
                > (non-auto) ferry out to a small island several miles from the city,
                > where there were actually homes in an auto-free environment.
                --
                Richard Risemberg
                rickrise@...
                Living Room Urban Ecology webzine: http://www.living-room.org
                "There is more to life than increasing its speed." (Gandhi)
              • J.H. Crawford
                ... largely ... boat). ... the ... Venice is, of course, made up entirely of islands. The, well, insularity, of islands makes it a simple matter to limit
                Message 7 of 17 , Mar 26, 2000
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                  richard risemberg <rickris-@...> wrote:

                  > Catalina Island, about 24 miles of the coast of Los Angeles, is
                  largely
                  > (though not entirely) car-free. There are some private cars and a lot
                  > of golf carts, but most travel is by foot or bicycle (or coastal
                  boat).
                  > Of course there's only one town and it covers one square mile. But
                  the
                  > peacefulness is nice.

                  Venice is, of course, made up entirely of islands. The, well,
                  insularity, of islands makes it a simple matter to limit access
                  to means that are desired. If Venice had been a land-based city
                  surrounded by open land, it would today probably be just another
                  city overrun by cars.

                  There are other ways to make "islands" than by surrounding
                  land with water. If a 100-square-mile parcel of land cold be
                  assembled in a rural area, the first thing to do would be to
                  establish a greenbelt at least a mile wide all around the
                  perimeter. The only rights-of-way that would be permitted
                  to cross this would be rail lines into the new city and
                  the necessary roads to connect the utility areas to the
                  external road network.

                  So thinking "island" is a useful conceptualization.

                  Of course, the conversion of existing cities to carfree cities
                  will not be able to proceed in this manner. Some other image
                  is necessary.

                  J.H. Crawford
                • Ronald Dawson
                  ... Speaking about L.A. http://www.latimes.com/communities/transit/trains/20000322/t000027207.html Let s hope gas prices stay high enough, because old/bad
                  Message 8 of 17 , Mar 26, 2000
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                    Richard Risemberg <rickris-@...> wrote:
                    >Catalina Island, about 24 miles off the coast of Los Angeles, is
                    >largely (though not entirely) car-free.

                    Speaking about L.A.
                    http://www.latimes.com/communities/transit/trains/20000322/t000027207.html
                    Let's hope gas prices stay high enough, because old/bad habits are hard to
                    break.

                    On the other side of the fence there is this article from the economist.
                    http://www.economist.com/editorial/freeforall/current/index_us5760.html
                    Welcome to contemporary western society?
                    Dawson
                  • eyrehead@ameritech.net
                    ... are ... There are cities that have pedestrian areas, sort of like outdoor malls. It isn t much but it is a start. ... live ... US, ... carsrcoffins.com,
                    Message 9 of 17 , Apr 9, 2000
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                      --- In carfree_cities@egroups.com, "frank zappa" <jbemel@u...> wrote:
                      > Hi,
                      > I was wondering if there are any cities in the United States that
                      are
                      > at least car limited.

                      There are cities that have pedestrian areas, sort of like outdoor
                      malls. It isn't much but it is a start.

                      > So anyway, I want to make this happen, or be part of it. I want to
                      live
                      > in a city where cars are almost non existant. If none exist in the
                      US,
                      > Lets start one damnit! I'd move anywhere in the US to live in a car
                      > free city, so how bout it? BTW I found this off of
                      carsrcoffins.com,
                      if
                      > you like bikes, check it out.

                      I think you are on the right track in two ways -- you are a biker,
                      and
                      you are thinking about how to turn back the blight.

                      In the US, with its growing population of elderly (read that as less
                      and less capable drivers) there will be a market for housing in areas
                      that have most of the amenities within walking distance. Many of
                      these people will be on rather fixed incomes so that being able to
                      give up a car would be a relief. If a PLEASANT auto free life could
                      be developed for them, other people would follow.

                      I would like to see a complete redesign of sidewalks, a pedestrian
                      strip closest to the buildings, a bikers'/bladers' lane beside that,
                      then some close in handicapped parking interspersed with well planted
                      doggie toilet areas next to the the bikers' strip, and then finally
                      the auto area. Such sidewalks should be very spacious, lots of
                      planters with trees, lots of room for cafes to spill out onto the
                      sidewalk, bike parking stanchions.

                      Urban life needs people on the streets, with their children and their
                      pets, so that they are actually spending part of their lives there
                      rather than just hurrying from place to place and hoping they are not
                      mugged in the process.

                      A biker/ blading lane is essential -- there are a lot of closet
                      bikers
                      out there who refrain for the danger of sharing a lane with cars. I
                      hope you are careful as you bike -- I used to work in a large urban
                      hospital and I saw a lot the results of a lot of bike/auto collisions
                      and it wasn't pretty.

                      Martha
                    • eyrehead@ameritech.net
                      I really wanted to get some kind of constructive ... Okay, this would be for the US. There are co-operatives; in many cities they are old buildings which are
                      Message 10 of 17 , Apr 9, 2000
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                        I really wanted to get some kind of
                        constructive
                        > conversation going on how this could be done. I don't have all the
                        > answers, in fact, I don't have ANY answers. So? Got any ideas?

                        Okay, this would be for the US.

                        There are co-operatives; in many cities they are old buildings which
                        are owned by many people each of whom has a proprietary lease.
                        Before someone can buy into one he is vetted for financial capability
                        of holding up his share, since everyone is responsible for paying for
                        the building and if one person welshes that requires everyone else to
                        pay more.

                        There is a tax break as there is on mortgage interest, though it is
                        called something else. I will see if I can find the term and get
                        back with you.

                        Okay, now here's how it pertains to making autofree oases. When you
                        buy into such a place, the contract can read a little like a
                        neighborhood association, whether you will have planters on your
                        sill, even the colors of curtains, some limits on remodelling like
                        not
                        taking out structural supports -- you get the idea. Well, not all
                        cooperatives are single buildings. Near Birmingham, Michigan there
                        is one that looks like any group of two story apartment buildings.
                        But the point is, they can write the contract anyway they want for
                        the area that is cooperatively owned. The contract COULD require that
                        all cars be parked in one area, never driven in the rest of the
                        cooperative.

                        Barriers could enforce that, and signs explain it to the uninitiated.

                        I know it sounds penny ante, but if that co-operative had that in
                        their contract, if they isolated cars to one small part of the
                        grounds, there would be several car free acres - something parents
                        would be glad to have. It would also be quiet.

                        Another approach...

                        It may be hard to do in suburbia with each house with an attached
                        garage, a lot of people simply would not agree to making a car free
                        street, though, who knows, if one lot on the street was built with an
                        underground garage to which only the people on the street had access,
                        maybe you could get people to refrain from driving on the street.
                        That is a stretch though, there would be a lot of grousing about
                        weather and security.

                        Both of these approaches start small and as in any worthwhile
                        endeavor it takes some searching and scratching to find a way that
                        works. But once it is found, it will take fire.



                        Martha
                      • eyrehead@ameritech.net
                        ... I don t think you could take over a town and turn it into Mackinac, but you may be able to get cooperation from neighbors and close off a street. This is
                        Message 11 of 17 , Apr 9, 2000
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                          --- In carfree_cities@egroups.com, "frank zappa" <jbemel@u...> wrote:
                          > >Fine with me. Where and when?
                          >
                          > I don't know. How could it be done? Could a bunch of like minded car
                          > haters just converged on a small town and sort of take it over? Tell
                          > enough people in the right groups and the place would get the
                          > reputation as a car free town.

                          I don't think you could take over a town and turn it into Mackinac,
                          but you may be able to get cooperation from neighbors and close off a
                          street.

                          This is an awful thing to say, but if a child in your neighborhood is
                          hit by a car, that would be the time to push the idea.

                          By the way, even though Mackinac Island is getting commercialized, it
                          is still lovely. For some reason the insect life up there is more
                          abundant than it is downstate. My husband and I go up there every
                          summer and that is the only place we see a lot of honey bees. I
                          don't
                          think this is because there is a ban on pesticides.


                          Martha
                        • Sam K
                          What about a carefree block? Wouldn t it be wonderful if everyone on a single block agreed to remove the street and their driveways. In their place they
                          Message 12 of 17 , Sep 30, 2000
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                            What about a carefree block? Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone on
                            a single block agreed to remove the street and their driveways. In
                            their place they could plant flowers, vegetables and grass. Isn't it
                            amazing the idea of simply removing a single block is so outrageous?
                            I live in Cambridge MA (where unfortunately houses cost a small
                            fortune) but I would be more than happy to talk with anyone
                            interested
                            in this idea.
                          • sarati@email.com
                            ... on ... it ... outrageous? ... In the last year or so, I too have dreamed about creating a car-free community somewhere, or redesigning an existing town or
                            Message 13 of 17 , Sep 30, 2000
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                              > What about a carefree block? Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone
                              on
                              > a single block agreed to remove the street and their driveways. In
                              > their place they could plant flowers, vegetables and grass. Isn't
                              it
                              > amazing the idea of simply removing a single block is so
                              outrageous?
                              > I live in Cambridge MA (where unfortunately houses cost a small
                              > fortune) but I would be more than happy to talk with anyone
                              > interested
                              > in this idea.

                              In the last year or so, I too have dreamed about creating a car-free
                              community somewhere, or redesigning an existing town or urban center
                              to operate without that iron shield we've wedged between ourselves
                              and our neighbors. There has to be enough of us, like-minded folk to
                              make this possible.

                              I live in Marin county, just north of San Francisco, the so-called
                              birthplace of mountain biking. You'd be quite shocked to see the
                              amount of car (and SUV !?!) traffic clogging the streets of our
                              towns, and an abysmal rate of carpooling I might add. I stand guilty
                              myself, as there is no plausible way to get my children to school
                              that doesn't require an automobile. And, we've NO schoolbus in the
                              district either. 4.6 miles, 1 mountain, and a crowded freeway stand
                              between home and school. Although a relocation is planned, I've not
                              yet found a workable option.

                              As for ideas on converting blocks or districts, I'm looking at
                              Alameda - for those of you familiar with the bay area. It is
                              virtually an island, with ferry service to San Francisco, near an
                              International Airport (Oakland) and even close to a BART line. I'm
                              not sure what is happening to the old military base, but if
                              available, it could be completely redesigned. I think Alameda is a
                              perfect size - large enough to support a thriving car-free community
                              with shops, neighborhoods, schools, business and offices, the
                              question is how do you convice the homeowners and business owners?

                              Oh, I'm very pleased to have found this forum, I've been reading
                              through some of the archived discussions and hope to get to know you
                              all better in the time to come. I'm also very much looking forward to
                              reading Carfree Cities, the website is amazing.

                              Susan Arati
                              sarati@...
                            • Ronald Dawson
                              ... I have a video clip of a fictional carfree place that you might want to watch? http://www.startrek.com/library/media_voy.asp?id=19242 Dawson
                              Message 14 of 17 , Oct 1, 2000
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                                Sam K wrote:
                                >What about a carefree block? Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone on
                                >a single block agreed to remove the street and their driveways. In
                                >their place they could plant flowers, vegetables and grass. Isn't it
                                >amazing the idea of simply removing a single block is so outrageous?
                                >I live in Cambridge MA (where unfortunately houses cost a small
                                >fortune) but I would be more than happy to talk with anyone
                                >interested in this idea.

                                I have a video clip of a fictional carfree place that you might want to
                                watch?
                                http://www.startrek.com/library/media_voy.asp?id=19242 Dawson
                              • Louis-Luc Le Guerrier
                                ... Excellent idea! In the house I currently live in, there is driveway for 6 cars. In winter it takes an hour with a snow blower to remove snow, and in the
                                Message 15 of 17 , Oct 1, 2000
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                                  > -----Original Message-----
                                  > From: sarati@... [mailto:sarati@...]
                                  > Sent: 1 octobre, 2000 02:54
                                  > To: carfree_cities@egroups.com
                                  > Subject: [carfree_cities] Re: Any existing car free cities in US?
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  > > What about a carefree block? Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone
                                  > on
                                  > > a single block agreed to remove the street and their driveways. In
                                  > > their place they could plant flowers, vegetables and grass. Isn't
                                  > it
                                  > > amazing the idea of simply removing a single block is so
                                  > outrageous?
                                  > > I live in Cambridge MA (where unfortunately houses cost a small
                                  > > fortune) but I would be more than happy to talk with anyone
                                  > > interested
                                  > > in this idea.
                                  >
                                  Excellent idea! In the house I currently live in, there is driveway for
                                  6 cars. In winter it takes an hour with a snow blower to remove snow, and
                                  in the summer, all pines, small fruit, and leaves fall from trees, and they
                                  use a gas sweeper to blow this away. Nearly half of the lot is dedicated
                                  to cars. If I have a chance to buy a house that has a driveway, I'll first
                                  modify the lot. I'll put a nice plant jar, or another ornament in the middle
                                  of the driveway right next to the public sidewalk. Later I'll make a patio
                                  and picnic table on the asphalt. If there are trees next to it, I guess I'll
                                  remove the asphalt and put lawn. I'll make a nice concrete or brick wide
                                  walkway right in front of my front door leading to the city walkway. If
                                  there is a garage, I can't imagine all the ways I can make use of it instead
                                  of storing a car: put bikes, carts, lawnmower, garden tools, wheelbarrow, or
                                  even have enough room for a billard table!


                                  > In the last year or so, I too have dreamed about creating a car-free
                                  > community somewhere, or redesigning an existing town or urban center
                                  > to operate without that iron shield we've wedged between ourselves
                                  > and our neighbors. There has to be enough of us, like-minded folk to
                                  > make this possible.
                                  >
                                  Yes. We just need to gather our forces and start a real project.
                                  It's contradictory. Real estate agents show that houses on a cul-de-sac as
                                  an advantage because it's nearly carfree, but some people who buy such a
                                  house may not separate from his car.

                                  > I live in Marin county, just north of San Francisco, the so-called
                                  > birthplace of mountain biking. You'd be quite shocked to see the
                                  > amount of car (and SUV !?!) traffic clogging the streets of our
                                  > towns, and an abysmal rate of carpooling I might add. I stand guilty
                                  > myself, as there is no plausible way to get my children to school
                                  > that doesn't require an automobile. And, we've NO schoolbus in the
                                  > district either. 4.6 miles, 1 mountain, and a crowded freeway stand
                                  > between home and school. Although a relocation is planned, I've not
                                  > yet found a workable option.
                                  >
                                  It's typically the worst situation there could be for a child to grow. They
                                  can't walk or bike to school, and I guess they can't play in the streets,
                                  and they don't even have a school bus. I feel so sad thinking a person
                                  (especially a child) with good health, 2 arms and 2 legs, can't make it to
                                  school or work because of those cars.

                                  Me too, I plan to relocate as soon as I find a true carfree city, even if
                                  Montreal is not that bad regarding transit. That's my ultimate life goal,
                                  and I want to meet as many people as I can who have the same goal to serve
                                  our project.

                                  I sincerely wish you good luck to find a better place in your case.

                                  Louis-Luc
                                • guy@subrosa.org
                                  I agree with Louis, if I could have one thing above all in my ideal city, it would be fewer cars. But I m kind of impatient with those who echo such sentiments
                                  Message 16 of 17 , Oct 5, 2000
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                                    I agree with Louis, if I could have one thing above all in
                                    my ideal city, it would be fewer cars. But I'm kind of impatient
                                    with those who echo such sentiments without acting on them.
                                    Anyone who feels this way should surely do all they can to kick
                                    the private auto habit. I've done so, and nothing has been better
                                    for my physical and mental health. If you don't act concretely on
                                    your priorities, and can't see fit to make significant sacrifices
                                    for them if necessary, how on Earth will they come to fruition?
                                    Enough talk. Action!

                                    I too would like to find enough people who share such sentiments
                                    to make even a single carfree block in a city here in the US a
                                    reality. But I doubt that anyone who lacks the commitment to start a
                                    single carfree household, namely their own, would be prepared to work
                                    for a whole carfree block, let alone city. This is the problem.

                                    Would anyone who has already met the first hurdle of living carfree
                                    themselves like to start with me on the next, starting a carfree
                                    neighborhood, here in San Diego? Give me a call (858-558-1384) or
                                    drop me an email.

                                    Guy
                                  • Mark Watson
                                    Hi Guy, Are you inferring that members of this list are not carfree or car-lite? No poll has been conducted that I know of. Egroups has that capability.
                                    Message 17 of 17 , Oct 6, 2000
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                                      Hi Guy,

                                      Are you inferring that members of this list are not carfree or car-lite? No
                                      poll has been conducted that I know of. Egroups has that capability.
                                      Although I'm not sure it should make a difference.

                                      I read somewhere, maybe here, this analogy: A drug addict doesn't need to
                                      be clean in order to say to his fellow addicts, "This sucks! Let's work
                                      toward quitting."

                                      We are trying, in our own way, to bring about the revolution. Some of us
                                      chose a house, job, etc. before enlightenment. So it is harder. [But my
                                      PCFD was Sept 1st, & my car hasn't move since.]

                                      Leading by example is a good, but not the only, way to fight the fight.

                                      Also, I believe that this list is more concerned w/ changing the built
                                      environment to get rid of the need for cars in cities. Not the day-to-day
                                      struggles of being carfree in the current world.

                                      A better source for that may be the CarFree list.
                                      http://www.egroups.com/group/CarFree

                                      RE:San Diego, Bill Volk bvolk@... is member of that list & may be
                                      able to help you in your local efforts. Please keep this list informed on
                                      your progress. I am especially interested because that's my home town & I
                                      still have family there.

                                      Mark

                                      ********************************************************
                                      ride safe. ride often. ride everywhere.

                                      Mark Watson __o
                                      `\<
                                      (o)/(o)

                                      mark_a_watson@... Seattle, WA, USA
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