This is my fifth annual post about being car-free since 1/25/2005. Technically I’m car-light, since I drove borrowed cars for a job for part of last summer also visited relatives over the holidays. On the other hand, I managed my best year ever combined and walking and biking – 5,633 miles.
I did that while on a bike that has 67% fewer gears and is 25% heavier steel (Sophie) than my old aluminum steed (Sookie). I’m no Greta Thunberg, but I do think reducing car use is a good thing. Not everyone can do it, but some people might be able to try it. That’s all I’m saying. Well, in this paragraph at least.
I got a flat tire last night, but not just any flat tire. The tube exploded with a loud BANG! and so did the tire. The thing is, I was at a well-known high-crime drug corner, and for a second I thought someone was shooting at me with a gun. Then I realized the air was gone from my rear tire and my pedaling was over for the night. The guys hanging out at the convenience store parking lot knew it wasn’t a gunshot, though. There was a police officer parked in the lot, and a bus came along pretty quickly. Even more fortunate was that I was near the house of a member of the North East Austin Texas Bike Group, and her husband kindly took me home in their mini-van. Thanks, Thomas! It’s good to know people.
I wasn’t planning that much bicycling. Yet there were places to go, things to do. I had no car to use, and a dislike of the bus. It was yet another in a string of 100-degree plus day. However, I knew I could stop in air conditioned places. Most importantly, I felt I had good legs. With that confidence, I headed out into the swamp that is Austin, Texas in August.
In my fourth annual post about living without a car, 14 Years Not a Slave to Cars, I talked about the obvious benefits of riding a bike and not having a car. Of course there’s helping the environment, getting exercise and Vitamin D, and getting to write blog posts that are read and celebrated by 10’s of people around the world. But there are downsides, too. Let’s talk about it!
NOTE 1: If you clicked on, read or liked my Southern Walnut Creek post, please feel free to do so again. I accidentally duplicated it so removed the post.
NOTE 2: You may have seen that sometimes I’m scheduling posts for early on Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday. Normally I post late Monday, Wednesday or Friday. But I think I may be losing a few potential viewers the latter way, so I’m trying the former. What are your thoughts about the schedule? Please let me know in a comment.
I rode the upper half of this trail again, and realized that although familiarity breeds contempt, I’ve never grown weary or bored of this trail. Maybe it’s because there are no cars, so one can relax and enjoy the ride. It could be the variety of sights from thick, evergreen trees to the distant skyline of downtown Austin. There’s occasional deer, rabbit, or armadillo (all of which I saw), not to mention birds, frogs, bugs and more. It’s also used by people walking, running, on rollerblades or even wheelchairs, since it’s 10 feet wide and paved. It’s great for all levels and types of cyclist: road, mountain or even kids (though the latter may not make it up the big hill). It’s been featured on many of my rides on Strava, but today it gets its own blog post. Hop on your bike and come with me on this virtual ride!
In what’s become an annual post, now for the fourth year in a row, I am obligated contractually (by Mother Earth) to inform you that I am still carless. Losing my car on January 25, 2005 was not my choice. Continuing to do without one has been. What does it all mean? Well, I mostly bike (4,554 miles in 2018, to be exact). I also walk to get around, though that’s more for exercise, 30′ a day. I have also used the bus, ridden in friends’ cars, and twice last year I borrowed cars for extended periods. So while I’m not 100% internal combustion engine-free, I still do not own a car. I don’t want a medal, but I do think it’s an important accomplishment worth blogging about. Thanks for reading.
And I would walk five hundred miles And I would walk five hundred more Just to be the man who walked a thousand miles To fall down at your door
–The Proclaimers, “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”
Occasionally I tend to geek out on what I’m doing number-wise with my bicycle. Today, it was passing 1,000 miles for 2018 thus far. Not too shabby, but not as much as in 2016 (where I rode 5,306 miles) or in 2017 (where I rode 4,714 miles). At this rate, by the end of 2018, I’ll end up just shy of riding 3,200 miles. With the weather warming up, I expect I will increase my weekly goal from 50 miles to 75 or even 100. But as my unemployment money dwindles, I will find myself scrambling for income, and that could diminish my activity level significantly. A Dude’s gotta eat and have a roof. But the numbers and what’s behind them are interesting, so click on to read the rest of this post. Continue reading →