Yes, I realize that I’m probably “preaching to the choir” with this image at this blog, but I couldn’t help myself…I came across this and felt like posting it. But if you are an adult who has not ridden a bike in a while, I hope you do so again soon. You may remember what a viable mode of transport it is; what a feeling of freedom it is. You may like it, if just for one day…
These are two views from my handlebars. The above is in the morning–facing eastward–on my short commute to work, and the below image is in the late afternoon on my way home, facing westward. Both images are on Allen Street in Allentown; the neighborhood in which I both live and work. I enjoy riding a bike on this street because it is so narrow. It is narrow enough that cars have to drive pretty slowly, and indeed sometimes even have to stop in order to let another pass (though when it is not crowded with either morning or evening traffic lunatics do tend to speed down this narrow street.) And when it is crowded during peak traffic times I often ride in the middle of the lane because I can keep pace with the cars if not go faster than them. And on a day like today–that was supremely beautiful outside–the morning ride was so lovely and fresh and the late afternoon ride invigorating after rushing around a hot kitchen. Most days–today being one of them–I felt glad and truly blessed that I was on a bike instead of in a car in traffic, but also that I had the initiative to be on a bike. I’m just saying. I’ll get off my little soapbox now.
Buffalo, the city in which I was born and currently reside, is not a large city (we rank 70 out of 275 in the size of American cities, according to this page), but it’s a lovely city and a great place to live and work. But we still have traffic jams and rush hour, not like those you may find in mega-cities, but nonetheless, they still occur. This is an image I took while on Allen Street this evening on my way to the health club. It’s a narrow street and sometimes busy but not usually this busy, but it was just after 5pm. What a beautiful day it was/is…look at that sky. And after spending the day facing a hot stove and as I stood straddling my bike waiting for the traffic light to change I felt so lucky–blessed actually–to be on a bike and not trapped in a car on such a beautiful evening. I’m just saying…
24 live fruit and vegetable plants (including a small blueberry bush) and $32.27 in groceries.
Many of you likely know that I have finally (finally!) given up car ownership (or in my case, truck ownership) and have have seamlessly moved from being car-lite to car-free. Well in a last act of departure I had to “surrender” the plates to the DMV today, and it seemed appropriate–as if in some final death march–to carry them on one of my bikes. Done. Finito. Fini.
#431…A dough rising bucket and three loaves of freshly baked whole-wheat wild rice bread.
#432…Three books and a shovel
A jug of laundry detergent, a full-sized camera tripod, a new pair of jeans, a package of boxer briefs, a package of t-shirts, two bottles of contact solution, four live cabbage plants, four live broccoli plants, four live tomato plants, six live pea plants, two bottles of weed killer, two packages of meal moth traps, a fresh tuna steak, a cup of coffee, and a new pitch-fork/garden spade.
Well, first of all, while I’m not entirely car-free yet, I don’t specifically have one to drive. What I mean by this is that my truck is officially off the road (no longer legal as the inspection has not been renewed) and is sitting in the driveway of my son’s mom’s house, but I still own it. It’s also officially for sale. If you want to see it or it’s description, here’s the sale page.
Interestingly, while I was getting information together in order to sell it I noticed that since I purchased it about 3 years ago I only drove it about 8000 miles (2666 miles a year)…according to the US Department of Transportation at this page, the “average male” in my age group drives about 18,858 miles a year…I’ve never been one to be average.
But with that said…
Today, being Monday, is one of the two days a week I would move the truck from one side of the street to the other lest I receive a parking ticket. And today it was also raining…hard. I wanted to go to the health club–which I did–but I have to be honest in that if the truck was there and I had to get in it anyhow I likely would have driven to the health club. But it wasn’t there. And I still went. And I didn’t melt.
This is just a test.
Before I get to mentioning the decision let me first explain the above image. That is a new rear spring bracket I purchased today for $80 for my truck. I’ve mentioned many times on this blog that I am not car-free but am car-lite. Anyhow, the above bracket has to replace the rotted one on my late model truck by this Monday before the month ends and my annual inspection runs out. But before it can be replaced a section of the frame–which has rotted–has to have metal plates welded on for support. I’m not sure how much this will cost, but likely more than I’m guessing.
Anyhow, to get to the decision. Once I have the truck repaired I plan on selling it and….drum-roll please….finally go car-free once and for all. I’ve done it in the past (but not for some years) and will do it again; I’m nearly there already. I’ll do a test run of being car-free through the summer months and see how it goes. The aggravation and true cost of car ownership has finally outweighed the value–to me–of owning one. I’ll bike, walk, take public transportation (as I do now, only more), and likely join our local car share so I’ll be able to use one if I need to get somewhere quickly or out of bike range.
It’s interesting, that when I first found that I needed this work done on the truck I was stressed about it (and still am, actually), but in a way it is also freeing…it is what finally pushed me to make the decision. Everything, some say, happens for a reason.
Today–as the title of this post stated–was cold and wet. Not the dangerous frigid cold you get in mid-winter, but that bone-chilling wet-cold that can only come in the spring. And it’s been sort of snowing and raining for the better part of the day. Anyhow, I mentioned in a previous post how dismayed I have been at the continual money pit of car ownership (and that my pickup has to be repaired before it passes inspection by the end of the month), and that I have been considering finally selling the truck and going car-free…at least as a test run. Interestingly, in my mind I already am car-free…well today was a test. Sure riding a bike is fun when it’s nice out…but it’s not always nice out. Rain is my least favorite element to ride in. But still I rode my bike in the snow/rain the short distance to-and-from work today, and this evening I wanted to go to the health club and by this time it was coming down pretty hard. While my truck is still “legal,” it’s really not safe until it gets repaired. So I had two choices: I could stay home or I could ride in the rain. I chose the latter, and you know what…I didn’t melt. But I have to admit that the steam room at the health club felt extra good today, as does the heat from the wood stove as I type these words. Small steps, that’s how it’s done.
Most who visit this blog know that I like bikes…a lot. I ride mainly for transportation, but also because I enjoy it. And some also know that I am not entirely car-free, but car-lite (I own one small late model pick up truck and a small fleet of bikes). Sometimes it seems silly that I still own the truck seeing I can get by without it, and given the true cost of car ownership. Today, for example, I took the truck to my mechanic for it’s annual inspection…it turns out I need to have hundreds of dollars of work done prior to inspection (surprise!). Anyhow, feeling somewhat down (disgruntled even) about the continual money pit of owning a car, I took my two dogs for a walk this evening and was contemplating what it would be like–and if I truly would be able–to be entirely car-free; as I walked I thought about selling the truck. And as I walked and my dogs stopped to pee on whatever vertical thing they could find, the above woman happened to pass me. As she passed I noticed her somewhat unique bike (it’s shaft driven; no chain) and asked her about it. It turns out Tanya was here in town from Vancouver to attend the Complete Streets Summit today and is helping to start up a SoBi bike share program. Excellent! She was also nice enough to agree to have her picture taken (thanks Tanya!). So…was this fate, that I’m walking around considering going car-free and I run into someone helping to do a bike share start up? Maybe, maybe not…then again maybe I’m just over-analyzing (which I tend to do). Whether I sell the truck or not it’s exciting news to have a bike share coming to Buffalo.
A nylon bag containing a computer, a canvas bag containing an extra camera, an electronic reader, two books, a journal, a small tripod, and various writing tools; a dough rising bucket containing a small paper bag which contains a smaller plastic tub of homemade gravy; a round tin resting atop the dough rising bucket containing 4 chive crepes stuffed with beef stroganoff; two loaves of freshly baked oatmeal-flax bread.
Payday today, the house was bare with essentials. After a brief steam and swim I ran errands and did some shopping. This is what I carried on–or pulled with–the bike tonight from 4 separate stores:
Two bags of of dog food, $67 in groceries, vitamins, sundries, a bottle of red wine, a canvas bag containing an extra camera, books, and writing tools, a gym bag full of wet clothes, an extra jacket, and an extra chain lock.
Two nylon bags, a canvas bag, 3 books, an electronic reader, a pocket Bible, a camera, a tripod, a magazine, a laptop computer, a journal, and various writing implements.
Four cement blocks and four cement bricks (totaling, at best guess, about 150lbs/68kgs), a 3ft/.91m floor support jack, two new tie-down straps (which were put to use straight away), four new bungees (which were also put to use), 2lbs/.9kg fresh lamb meat, a tin of tomato puree, an Artvoice paper, and a cup of hot coffee.
A gym bag full of wet clothes (front rack), a large cardboard box containing $52.54 in groceries, a smaller cardboard box on top of the large cardboard box containing two slices of pizza.
On the bike…A gym bag containing wet clothes, a canvas bag containing an extra camera and batteries, and 3 liters of red wine.
A brief comment…If you’ve been to this blog more than once you likely know that my “adult beverage” of choice is red wine (coffee is my other vice but that’s in the early part of the day). I’ve carried many things on bikes but one of the more difficult is liquids…they are heavy and sloshy. But these too are easily carried on a bike. The picture above is an example. I’ve recently discovered the the front rack on both the Cargo-T and the Mundo are perfect for carrying 1.5L sized bottles of wine. Simply place a paper bag or a piece of cardboard between them and strap them down tight. I just thought I’d pass this along as a household tip of the day 🙂
The video (an oldie but a goody)…