I cannot overstate the importance of the most basic fact of bicycling, which is: The single most effective way for an individual in the USA today to experience near total freedom from corporate rule and globalization, is to live close to where you need to be and live car free. If you can possibly figure out how to use a bicycle to run your errands, you will experience a level of personal freedom, independence, and physical and mental stamina the likes of which you may never have known in your entire adult life.
East Bay Bicycling Coalition's (ebbc.org) February '03 newsletter introduces a fella named Joe Breeze of Alameda, who's marketing European style bicycles all outfitted affordably and practically, with the menu of accessories needed to handily and safely jump on a bike, run errands, and live Car Free! His BREEZER bikes, most of which include hub alternators to sustainably and automatically provide head and taillights, are on sale at Berkeley, California's Missing Link Bike Shop (On Shattuck next to McDonald's at University). Several of the Breezer Bikes are specifically designed for ELDERS WHO MAY FIND IT DIFFICULT TO CLIMB OVER A HIGH BAR/FRAME TOP TUBE - there are now many brands of bikes available that are as easy to mount as a scooter. And remember gas or electric powered scooters trash the environment with noise, fumes, toxic waste batteries as well as denying you precious exercise. If you are unfortunate enough to live in Berkeley's earthquake slide and fire zone known as the hills, electric assist could prove necessary. (Of course one of the keys to success in living car free is residing close to where you need to work or be; other keys include taxicabs, buses outfitted with bike racks, and the new CITY CARSHARE program, with PODs at Gaia Building, Rockridge, and Berkeley Way civic center parking lot. BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit, subway) plays a big role too. RECOGNIZE that A SINGLE CAR PAYMENT or CAR DOWN (THE DRAIN) PAYMENT will likely cover a year's public transit fares and rental car costs. AND YOU'LL BE SUPPORTING THE STRUGGLING PUBLIC TRANSIT SECTOR instead of subsidizing Oil Wars and Detroit.) Getting around town with 2-6000lbs of Steel, plastic, chrome, glass and a fuel tank with you wherever you go is becoming an endangered pastime. It really is not necessary to take a 4,000lb station wagon to the Post Office to pick up a four ounce package of Styrofoam peanuts. Bicycling is a win, win, win: You win independence from fossil fuel, you win improved health, stamina, and clearer thinking from improved circulation and fewer fumes (note bicyclists actually enjoy much cleaner air outside the cars around them than the insidious fumes trapped inside every car; see California Air Resources Board study, INDOOR CAR AIR), and you win at saving our, and our kid's own futures by combatting global warming! I recognize biking is an acquired taste, like coffee. Hardly anyone feels right about drinking coffee the first time, it's spat back out! Don't expect to fall in love with bicycling on your first ride, it takes a bit of time to get used to how much fun it is, how much safer it can be to be doing 10mph in fresh air rather than 0mpg in gridlock fumes....and mastering the gyroscopic reality of bicycle inertia staying upright by the laws of physics when rolling, It takes some time and experience to recognize how well biking can actually work, and of course to rebuild the stamina and strength your body has lost to the brake and accelerator pedals. MOST BIKE TRIPS I MAKE IN BERKELEY TAKE ABOUT AS MUCH TIME AS MOST FOLKS HAVE TO ALLOW FOR FINDING PARKING AFTER DRIVING TO A DESTINATION IN BERKELEY. Within one season you'll be enjoying biking so much it won't take hardly any coaxing to realize with a bit of waterproof and or insulating clothing, bicycling in cold or wet weather is really no problem either, exercise will tend to keep you warm no matter what! I find it's easier to be too warm than too cold! What follows now is my fundamental bicycle life story, explaining in part how I became such a staunch advocate of bicycling. In October of 1999, a particularly ugly auto accident hurled me into becoming car-free. I used to own as many as four cars at one time, for various reasons, paying separate insurance, taxes, maintenance, body repair, engine repair, storage, tolls, gas, cleaning, tickets, towing and assorted other bills on each one. Finally by way of an auction where I got half the money I’d hoped to from the sale of my next to last car, I was down to just the 1994 ultra-safe and quiet little Lincoln Continental I still, at this writing, am unfortunate enough to own. But just a few days after I sold my next to last car for what seemed a horribly unfair to me price, my only remaining car was trashed while it was legally and carefully parked behind some dumb van that used the half-car length of space I left between the vehicles to build up enough speed to ram my spiffy new-looking Lincoln hard enough to sever the PARK pin in its transmission and of course do about $3000 in damage to the bumper and grille. I got to watch in horror as the driver at fault sped away, playing hit and run. Neither I nor three other witnesses were able to get a license plate number but I did have good insurance for my car, which proceeded to be very badly mis-repaired by two different shops - one for the engine work, and another for the body work of course. The shop had been highly recommended by a now defunct consumer rating organization called Value-Star, but one of the more sensationally bad things they did was to lose track of where they had even put my car, a week after I made and kept an appointment to drop it off. IT TOOK THEM AN ENTIRE CALENDAR MONTH to badly mis-repair the vehicle, with me making no fewer than seven round trips out of town to this now out of business auto, and auto body, repair facility. The jolt came from suddenly finding myself trying to live car-free in that month; my insurance didn’t cover any loaner car of any type for this inept repair procedure, SO I TOOK TO BICYCLING EVERYWHERE THAT MONTH. And some strange and positive things began to happen, such as, my health level took a great leap forward, which is always a bit of a miracle when like me at the age of 50, you are taught to expect to decline and decay. Frankly looking back on all this four years later, I realize I happily escaped having a sedentary lifestyle made possible by a car, become my method of aging grouchily and sourly. By doing everything I used to do by car, on a bike equipped for running errands, that I was suddenly smiling more, building muscle mass, getting clearer thinking going, just with a little exercise on a terrific modern, ultralight full-suspension bike. As a lover of life and of the outdoors, I’m anxious to share a message of health, joy and healing available to anyone with the courage to find out just how beautiful and quiet and fragrant the world can be - from the saddle of a modern bicycle. I have 50 year’s life experience riding a bike, and believe me, bike technology has changed dramatically in that time. I’ve changed dramatically, too. I used to live the conventional American life, taking maybe an average of 3,000 pounds of steel, oil, gasoline and furniture around with me almost wherever I went. After all, this is the Amerikan way of death, the notion you must have a gas tank to carry with you wherever you go. At this writing, I do still own and operate such a beast, known as a car, but I am looking forward to the day I get rid of it - and all the insurance, taxes, licenses, maintenance and gridlock costs it comes with - as slowly over the years I have got rid of one car after another, and have always been glad I did. Meanwhile, the money I’ve saved from not keeping up the damned expense of multiple cars is being plowed into some of the most advanced, safe, and beautiful magic carpets, known as bicycles, Northern California has ever seen. My bikes feature such things as fully automatic lighting (motion detectors turn on, and auto-off chips turn off, three separate lights on each of my bikes. These bikes also sport a handlebar stereo which I plug into a solar panel on my garage roof, so there’s no need of changing batteries (although of course even rechargeable batteries will eventually wear out.) It tinkles out tunes from either cd’s or tapes, as an early warning signal that I’m approaching, and these dandy Panasonic Walkman type stereos have proven to be a MAJOR plus for safety. Cats and Dogs, not to mention inattentive jaywalkers who figure they don’t need to look when they cross a street, assuming there’s no such thing as a quiet bicycle approaching at 30 mph - well you can see how important it is to make SOME modest little noise (the Walkman I’m referring to work from a mere pair of AA batteries, so we’re not talking serious noise pollution here.) Perhaps here in terms of safety I should try and overcome a primary misconception folks have about bicycling, that it’s too dangerous, and that’s why they’d prefer to continue killing each other and the planet with tailpipes and wars for oil. I HAVE BEEN SERIOUSLY INJURED IN MY TRAVELS, BUT ONLY WHEN USING A SET OF CAR KEYS. My inoperable spinal injury was a direct result of my FIRST carjacking incident, where I was run over by my own car. I was carjacked a second time in the summer of 2002, by some horrible kids who knocked me unconscious for the sole and express purpose of getting my car keys from me. They had to ask me where the car was parked as I was coming to bleeding on the floor. I ask you dear reader, how did my car contribute to my safety? I have had certainly dozens of mishaps in my 50 years of bicycling, but not one of them came even close to producing the life-threatening injuries my possession of a set of car keys produced. Cars, and our American obsession with them, reinforced by an avalanche of advertising exploiting every human weakness as being solvable by buying a car, continue to take a ghastly toll upon each of us and our planet. My guess is the average American 20-something has been exposed to 50,000 televised automobile advertisements; and probably easily another 50,000 billboard/print ads - by the time they reach their "automotive age.
True silence...is to the spirit, what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment." William Penn 1644-1718
The Current Rage in auto entertainment systems is flooding our catastrophic health care system with a new avalanche of casualties as those watching the Gong Show Reruns on their in-dash or on-dash or on-laptop DVDs & while attempting to DRIVE. A generation of sound-and noise induced HOH (Hard of Hearing) and Deaf individuals has also stressed the health care system and produced the pathetic statistic that more US Firefighters die on the way to a fire than in battling the flames themselves. Actually any normal hearing driver (thumping eardrums of the whole neighborhood with the overkill boom boxes that have become the overkill ordinary) is at total risk of not hearing an approaching fire truck. Also "sideshow" type kicker and thumper cars also set off car alarms, the vibration is so deliberately intense by design. And of course there was the push for tailpipe whistles as human rights in Oakland lately and made for some noise at city council meetings, all right. I suspect the operator of a car engaged in this ritual of vibration is unlikely to hear the tick-tick-tick of an approaching bicyclist's sprocket, but then I'm the guy who's devised the Bike Stereo based on Sony's superb palm sized cassette player/recorder with integrated mini stereo speakers playing the kick-butt 20-somethings tunes that keep me pumpin' the pedals and warning cats and dogs and folks I'm around. Maybe as a near deaf individual, this is largely my defense, that others can hear me approaching on my usual hi-performing bicycle, from my mere two AA battery Walkman, better than I can hear them. SKATERS AND SKATEBOARDERS BEWARE; The quiet nylon wheels on new boards and axles put any boarder at far greater risk with collisions to peds, bikers, and cars more likely few can hear the whiz of ya comin' over the din of traffic. THIS GOES TOO FOR THE NEW ELECTRIC SCOOTERS. WILMA CHAN'S CRACKDOWN ON GAS SCOOTERS, also known as a -FINES FOR KIDS PROGRAM, THAT IS. SO NOW THE INDUSTRY IS SUPPLYING QUIET AND THEREFORE WILDLY HAZARDOUS RENDITIONS OF THESE "No Exercise Allowed" toys from hell, kids flying around with NO warning sounds is worse than kids flying around sounding like a leaf blower. DRIVERS PLEASE BE AWARE: IF YOUR CAR DRIVING BY, OPEN WINDOWED WITH YOUR KICKERS AND THUMPERS PUMMELING OUT, WELL IF YOU SEE NEIGHBOR'S WINDOWS SHATTER AND COLLAPSE FROM THE SOUND AS YOU GO BY, WELL THIS IS AN EARLY WARNING SIGNAL THAT YOU ARE MAKING A LITTLE TOO MUCH NEIGHBORHOOD NOISE. TO QUOTE CHRIS ROCK, TURN THAT SHIT OFF. JIMZ WORDS OF WIZDUMB FOR TWO TODAY IN A TUTU, TOO
Weekdays are for burning modest to not so modest amounts of petroleum in order to get "to work." Please realize it does not matter if you have a job or a family; if you don't, you'll be required to act like you do to conform to the schedules of those that do. How much fuel you will need depends a lot on how well you match your housing to your job, and whether you think burning gasoline is "fun" or not. Also, if you have no idea what crimes against the natural world you are committing by burning gasoline, it will help your definition of "fun." What weekends are for is to burn huge quantities of gas AND kerosene as you fly from home and rent a car to access other endangered natural places reeling from the impacts of fossil fuel burning. At least this is how it goes in the US of A today. Anyone who stays at home and modestly reads or enjoys the nature photography of talented, skilled, well-equipped, distinguished photographers, are deemed "spoil sports" or idiots, or even worse, meditators. Spiritual development can occur primarily in quiet, serene contexts, and this has little to do with fossil-fool tour packages and travel plans. I was part of an eighty person bicycle tour of Berkeley, California's residential architectural oddities a month or two ago. It was an utterly remarkable feeling to be part of a "tour" where that many individuals can roll up to a neighborhood, even an individual house, remark on its features, and enjoy it’s amazing landscaping, and then leave without having made scarcely a sound nor a scrap of tailpipe pollution, nor disturbing the neighborhood one whit. This would hardly be true had we been piling in and out of that basic workhorse beast of tourism, the rotten, worst available technology, that snorting, screeching, idling diesel bus. The funniest part was the 40 of us that had to curse and drop the bikes directly to the ground since U.S. bike shops think kickstands are a luxury or idiocy. Personally, I think it's idiotic to have to dump a bike directly on the ground and then have to bend completely over to pick it up from the dirt, simply because kickstands are at best difficult to rig in a country that is sure that bikes are only for recreation or racing, not transportation. Watch for the next Bike Blog on how to keep a bike stable and upright without a kickstand! An improvised, featherweight and fabulous rig of my own, that is applicable to most any bike. You can mount the bike without having to lift your leg over the top tube, when this set-up is engaged. I've devised a custom "flickstand" for three different bike frames to date. But for tonight I want to confess I've become quite romantic about my bikes; it's embarrassing. A bike shop sold me a Specialized bike-lock called the "Wedlock," billed by its maker as "Better than a prenuptial agreement." And I will admit to being in love with my bikes, especially the Cannondale Jekyll 3000SL, which is my favorite of the entire polyamorous fleet. I cannot hide my affection for that Jekyll. That downhill mountain racer is not quite faithful, and will run away with the slightest imperceptible grade. Like a mischievous child, this bike has been caught running away too too many times. But I'm so in love with it I have to check and see if I'm developing a belly full of little bikes once in a while. Bungee cords, tire tubes and plastics! Here's another pointer to help keep urban bikers safe and sighted. Bungee cords, widely and wildly used by both bicyclists and motorcyclists to secure cargo on whatever rig you can, are THE leading source of eye injuries in the US today. Lost control of one of these elastic hazards can mean a jagged chuck of metal flying right into one's face, with tragic results if an eye is struck. Cheap bungees from overseas are now the primary culprit, safety tips were added by the industry and many cords are so equipped now, but often the tip is lost in the course of using the cord, and you can bet a factory somewhere is still pumping out cords with steel hooks lacking them to this day. "Vacuum caps" sold at auto supply parts counters, secured with epoxy adhesive can safety the tips. Still, the best bet is the new cords made in America with oversize rigid but far less dangerous *plastic* hooks which if well-made will also have a v style length adjusting channel or track for the bungee to adjust its tension by trimming its length. Any good hardware should have the new style which almost certainly evolved from personal injury suits against the rusty steel hook design. Plastic coatings on the steel ones often crumble off at the tip creating a heinous hazard. New cords are inexpensive items and when you think of it a fantastic deal in that by carrying nothing more than a good bungee or two, a bicyclists can and do increase their "carrying capacity" radically. Best wishes for badass urban bikers kicking butt, from the bike blogger. [Editor's note: When the author was asked about used bike inner tubes as an alternative to bungee cords, here is what the Bike Warrior Pacifist had to say: ] Old bike tires can be the resort of the desperate; between powder and rubber toxins, the time needed to tie and untie knots, you come to understand the popularity of bungees pretty quick. Remember rubber now is manufactured from petroleum. On the subject of plastics, which the Bike Blogger knows is a hot topic at Culture Change because of the new Campaign Against the Plastics Plague, here is food for thought: The nice thing about stopping cars and gas burning it seems one would stop or slow the production of all the plastic by-products produced by refining gasoline. Plastic crapola is so cheap, because we use so much gas and refiners need to dream up things to sell as plastic leftovers from refining. To quote Lily Tomlin, "Let's Make a Deal, in one game show alone, uses more plastic than the entire country of India has ever seen." The bottom line being, use less gas and you will generate less plastic. See Plastic Oceans
No Explosions: An Advantage of Bikes for Less-Abled Riders: Hand Cranker Bicycling is not for everyone! However, it's important to note, an organization in Berkeley, California, (BORP.org) is building hand-operated bicycles for paraplegics. The freedom these vehicles represent to an individual who's lost the use of their legs cannot be overstated. The ability to transport oneself without electricity, +/or filthy, terribly hazardous, polluting and ultra-heavy lead/acid batteries that wear out quickly and can strand, immobilize, and endanger a disabled individual, is to cherish and express the concept of personal freedom and independence. These recumbent style bicycles, like wheelchairs, should always be outfitted with tall bright triangle orange safety flags when there's any risk of collisions with other traffic. Auto- and Wheelchair-Battery Pitfall. It is important to recognize the horrible impacts of lead mining and battery manufacturing. The batteries can cause horrible burns when acid is spilled or leaks. The hydrogen gas that bubbles out of this dangerous and polluting technology is wildly hazardous and can and does explode routinely. It's a leading cause of blindness and burn injuries in the US today. Usually on a wheelchair, the charging is done indoors, and, with energy conservation driving home insulation projects to where indoor air pollution is extreme, hydrogen gas can accumulate to a dangerous degree in an enclosed space. Typically, it's the auto owner who's put a battery on a charge in a near-air tight auto garage, who ends up causing an acid explosion when the spark of disconnecting the charger ignites an accumulation of hydrogen gas. There can be a certain joy to noticing how bicycles can work to escape myriad problems of deadly technologies. See www.Borp.org; and www.Baystep.org. Bicycles can represent the ultimate expression of personal freedom as well as a near-perfect rendition of the concept of appropriate technology.
Generally the best strategy is to always arrive to appointments, clinics, hospitals and medical offices by bicycle. Discovering how well prepared this country's health care system is for bicyclists is in itself an important lesson in health care in America. Two of my last three emergency room visits were by bicycle (which had nothing to do with my injuries. The third visit I walked in.) Bringing a high value bicycle to a hospital can in itself be an emergency since it often turns out that no one in the US has realized that bicycles have anything to do with healthy exercise. It's as though the health care system buys the premise, lock, stock, and barrel, that bicyclists should be subject to the hegemony of the MTC. (MTC in the San Francisco Bay Area stands for Metropolitan Transportation Commission, but for the purposes of this blog, and for all practical purposes in the Bay Area, it stands for Marginalize, Trivialize, and Criminalize bicycling. ) Be very careful not to startle nor bump into the patients who've won a free scooter from the government, thanks to the team of disability generating attorneys that the scooter companies keep on payroll. Supersized and morbidly obese scooter patients are now married to a combination of lead-acid batteries, government checks, and monthly payments. But the scooters are increasingly deluxe, there is even a model that comes with a built-in cigarette lighter and ash tray. But be careful, these vehicles tend to be supersized. It will annoy your doctor greatly when you bring your bike into the exam room and introduce it as your domestic partner, since it never occurred to your doctor that anyone would seriously use a bicycle for much of anything so daily and intimately, and there's nothing resembling secure parking for it anywhere near the medical office building. (This applies to almost every conceivable medical, dental, and lab office in the US today.) It will also tend to generate feelings of jealously in your doctor, since the doctor will likely recognize that your passion for bicycling is somehow replacing your doctor's role of primary healthcare giver. These feelings will be reinforced as your doctor's eyes bug out at your blood test results which reveal that somehow you are testing as though you are twenty years younger than you really are, and outclassing perhaps every other patient your age in their practice. This can be particularly true if you can manage to do most of your bicycling in car-restricted zones, and avoid filling your bloodstream with the tailpipe output Americans refuse to realize is stuffing them as they sit in cars. Even on busy streets, bicyclists are able to expose themselves to less than half the emissions those trapped in cars are subject to. I'm not clear how long it will take for health care providers to figure this equation out: The healthy, bicycling non-patient in their office has something to do with the bicycle waiting patiently in the lobby. It's perhaps never occurred to anyone in the health care office that a patient would or could arrive by bike, but with these scenes repeated over and over for years in my life, in many different offices, I can help readers understand my suggestion that in the US, "Catastrophic health care" refers to the state our country's transportation system is in, as well as accurately describing the state our health care system is in -- sort of like our country's foreign policy. Without beating around the Bush, I can assert succinctly that the meaning of the word Catastrophic is as broad as the butt of those seated in scooters in line at the local fast food joint. According to ABC news, the obesity epidemic has in part been fed by the federal policy that getting supersized will qualify you for disability payments. It is important to recognize too that being overweight is not necessarily a choice; the unfortunate genetic makeup of a tiny percentage of people is such that eating 50% of what a thin person eats will still result in those unfortunates becoming obese. I do not want to engage in the popular pastime of blaming a victim. But it is just very, very difficult to distinguish between bad habits and obese genetics. And obesity is certainly now the rule, not the exception in America, where the average American walks fewer than 300 yards on an average day. Yet the images of people deliberately overeating and under-exercising to qualify for benefits, which ABC nightly news aired earlier this year, were, shall I say, unappetizing. Whereas the incredulity of medical caregivers wondering how I've managed to pull off terrific test results and 50 years of safe bicycling, well, the sparkle in my eyes, and those looks of bewilderment in theirs, are vitamins for my life.
I had some unusual fun with my bicycle a few months back when a friend, who knows I have a car, called begging me to get his girlfriend a jump start of her Toyota. They live not too far from me, and after I agreed I realized it would be simplest to use the compact jump starter battery with built-in mini jumper cables that I have on hand because my car, gathering dust while I bike everywhere, tends to need this jump starter therapy itself. The owner's manual for this 1994 Ford vehicle breezily suggests "you must run your new Ford at least every three days or the battery may run down..." and I often let the Ford rust in peace for more likely three WEEKS at a time. Anyhow as I'm wondering if I'll need to jump my car in order to drive over and jump theirs, the logic of simply biking the half-size sealed lead acid jump starter battery over to their dead Toyota, was irresistible. It dropped handily into one of my two unusually large saddlebags/aka panniers (I believe ORTLEIB is making the best one available in the US today) and maybe the best part was the wisecracks and looks of incredulity on my friend's faces as I arrive by bicycle and ask them to open the hood. The Toyota fired up nicely from the portable power pack but my friends had only been able to close the hood of their car, not their mouths, as I bicycled into the sunset.
After bicycling (mostly Berkeley, California streets) for over 50 years, I realize I cannot overstate the extent to which using a bicycle for running one's daily errands (not for RACING nor for daytime only RECREATION as most US bike shops presume is the purpose of bikes) is a form of continuing adult education in concepts of LIVING LIGHTLY ON THE EARTH. Each ride is a daily lesson in simplicity, modesty, flexibility, trust, patience, exercise, physical and mental health, respect for nature and the natural world, respect for one's natural limits and particularly respect for the other living creatures inhabiting this planet and one's own bloodstream. Cars, SUV's, freeways and especially single occupancy vehicles (S.O.V.'s) are essentially the opposite of all these things. SOV's are all about I, me, mine; bikes are all about us, we, them. Getting along with and anticipating pedestrians, wheelchair riders, trucks, children, cats, dogs, even bugs and frogs, are what makes a safe biker who makes it home with a smile. Whereas in a car or truck, it's mostly a matter of cleaning the blood and other dead creatures off the bumper and windshield once in a while. P.S. "What one does not trouble to find within will not be discovered by transporting the body hither and yon." --Paramhansa Yogananada
Regarding SOB, er, SOV cars (that's single occupancy vehicle) in the HOV lanes, "legalized" by Assembly member Fran Pavleys' AB2628 which "took effect" in California Jan 1,2005. (The presumed intent of this bill was to spur the purchase of gazzillions of hybrid cars, by allowing single occupant hybrid cars into the HOV lane). It turns out it's still not really legal and the CHP is still presumably enforcing against it, because freeways are under federal jurisdiction, and the feds have "not yet agreed" to this idea. I hope they never do and realize that allowing the very cars that do not pollute much in gridlock to become the only single occupancy ones allowed to escape gridlock, is absurd and pathetic. We are all in this together, caring and sharing a car is on the same level as caring about and sharing this planet with its many creatures. If there is anything I understand about the Environment, it's that we are all in this together! Allowing the I, me, mine single occupant cars into the HOV lane is wrong, wrong, wrong. It is UNFAIR TO THE POLICE too to have them pulling over cars that have only one occupant only to have that occupant announce that THIS car qualifies due to its "won't pollute in gridlock" drive train! It is too great a burden on the CHP. They have it hard enough sorting out the teddy bears and German Shepherds wearing shawls. The net result will be making the HOV lane unenforceable, or at best, unenforced. Fran Pavely represents a district called HONDA or TOYOTA it seems. Curious what sort of campaign contributions might be tracked around this. Could be Fran, whose assembly district includes much of Santa Monica, was just "well intentioned" with this. This bill may have originated prior to the disclosure that the EPA fuel economy estimates on these vehicles are about 40% too optimistic. Maybe Honda and Toyota contributed to EPA folks too!! It all smells, and it's important to note that Hybrid car tailpipes STILL need a warning label that reads: Caution: This vehicle emits carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, hydrocarbons, benzene, methane, aldehydes and volatile organic compounds (VOC's). Causes noise, increased traffic congestion, respiratory disease, cancer, death and ecocide. Especially Harmful to Other Species and Children. After writing the above, on January 24 an item on TV from Oakland, California's KTVU's broadcast confirms my fears and disgusts with the obscene proposal to allow SOV's in the HOV lane. The state of Virginia somehow managed to allow HYBRID SOV's in the HOV lane much earlier last year, and the feds agreed to try the idea out there. The net result is that Virginia's HOV lanes are now as jammed and gridlocked as the rest of the freeway lanes. The feds are not impressed and it looks very much like California's AB2628 I was blogging against is dead in the water as far as the feds are concerned.
It's a nice idea to have a medium sized loaner bike around any pro-bicycling household, for guest use. Especially if that bike is modern enough to be full suspension (adding any sort of a suspension seat post to a hard tail will do). This way your guest not only gets transportation but also a lesson in bicycle evolution and freedom. Most folks think of bikes as that 50 pound steel clunker they had as a child. Educate 'em. For example (not endorsement) Specialized Hard Rock bikes (the basic bike issued to Berkeley, California Police Officers) are cheap, well designed and built well for today’s tough streets and neighborhoods! Adding $30 worth of suspension seat post to this bike makes a great lesson to any guest as to the ease and comfort of modern bikes. Retail price on this model was as low as $319.00 in 2004. Saving a rusting heavy junk bike with bad brakes to injure or turn a friend into a ghost with, is not a good idea. Allow time to inflate tires as stored bikes tend to lose air. Better yet, use bike #2 once in a while so it's not needing air every time it goes out. Medium to small bikes can be bumped up to a better size with extra-long seat posts, but it's also true bicycling is about geometry and should ideally match the biker size. Escorting incredulous friends around town is quite the hobby for me, I love it when they realize how beautiful, comfortable, easy, and quick biking can be. Scooting around jammed traffic and steamed motorists is dangerous, but quieter and probably safer than trying to keep up with fast-moving traffic. Yet with the auto industry managing to build three cars for every person being born, there’s no such thing as smooth moving traffic any more, at least not around our population of car-keyed and car crazed cities! Realization by individuals that a whole new level of Human Powered Vehicles can bring freedom, cash savings, time savings, fresh air and health to a community, - while saving tons of time and parking tickets- is a profound chunk of good news, and people smile as they realize this. Pumping a set of pedals yourself, and offering a friend the opportunity to pedal up with you, brings this good news into a person’s mind, body and soul by the DOING. Now I’ll stop peddling bicycles and start pedaling one myself.
By James D
Make-it-home-safe MANTRA: When dealing with traffic, it's better to be patient than to become a patient; AND - A Sailboat is to a Polluting Cruise Ship what a bicycle is to a smokin' Hummer. I know bikes are beautiful but I’M not backing off until bikes are bountiful and bikers have greater strength in numbers.