Monday, March 31, 2008

A challenge for Northern Hemisphere Readers

G'day all!

This is something I've been thinking about for a while.

This pic from Crazy Aunt Purl reminded me of it.

I live in a car-centric place. Mebbe only Los Angeles is more car-centric than the San Francisco Bay area. Even with the Caltrain and the BART and the MUNI and all the various systems that run around the place, including the light rail that we catch quite a lot (particularly DH since it is a five minute walk to his work from the station).

We don't have a car. We only hire a car when we want to go travelling to look around this place or when we need to go pick something up that is much too big for the bike (eg when we brought home the six foot tall shelving).


You might be surprised by how much stuff I have brought home on my bike, both with and without the bike trailer.

Recently I brought home the new vacuum cleaner in the bike trailer:

(That is a picture of the Great White Hunter with her prey. The GWH must remember not to stick her chest out so much lest she look like her much better endowed aunt or eldest niece...)


Plus I bring home things from the plant nursery and the local supermarkets and the farmer's market. I do all the shopping with the bike, I ride or walk or take the train to pretty much anything I do unless a kind friend gives me a lift.

Here's my challenge to those of you out in the blogisphere who live in the northern hemisphere.

The 2008 Bike Challenge

Dump your car for summer. A soon as it isn't snowing and icy but is greening up and lush, put your car in the garage and try to walk, ride your bike or take public transport to your destination as often as you can. (It isn't always possible I know. Heck we hire cars on an as needs basis.)

For every mile you walk, ride or take PT, put aside the fuel money. If you want to be really adventurous, put aside the running costs. Gas (better known as petrol to us Aussies cos gas really is gas) costs somewhere around $3.60 a gallon where I live in the Bay area. Back 'ome in Oz, it recently hit $1.50 per litre (that is around $5.50 a gallon!). (I am not game to see what the prices of petrol are in the UK and Europe.)

If you have a pretty fuel efficient car, such as this Clio on a UK website then you will have to walk or ride a lot to get much in your piggy bank. But if your vehicle gets 12mpg, that is not so much walking or riding! Put the cash in a piggy bank or keep a running total.

At the end of each month or at the end of summer, bust open your piggy bank and find out how much money is in there, and treat yourself to something really nice!

(Interestingly, most of the websites with running costs for cars are in Oz and the UK from what I can find. Obviously the US does not call the cost of owning a car the running costs. Nope, it is total cost of ownership in the US. Edmunds has a guide for US folks interested in finding out how much their car costs. This bike-oriented website also has a calculator, and there is some info for Canadians here.)

Why take up the challenge?

It is good for you :-)

It is good for the environment :-)

I know this will not be for everyone but depending on where you live and how many kids you have to tow around to basketball, ballet and ballgames and how far you live from your workplace, etc , you might just find that driving a car everywhere is not the timesaver you thought it was. On the other hand, maybe the bike paths in your area are a little narrow. Maybe there are no bike paths or sidewalks/footpaths or any public transport. But if there are paths and PT, consider taking it. And remember to reward yourself!

If you want some inspiration, here's a few pages.

Copenhagenize - fabulous cycling blog based in Denmark. People in Copenhagen ride their bikes all year round, even though Denmark is subject to ice and snow in winter. 32% of Copenhageners ride their bikes to work.
Carfree links
Walkable cities (two links)
Wikipedia on Bike culture
Maybe your community is part of Active living.

Interested? Reckon you are willing to pick up the challenge? Leave me a comment or email me (contact details at the top right of the blog) and if there is enough interest, I'll create a new blog for all the participants to share their bike/walk.ride challenge thoughts.

anon!

6 comments:

  1. I try to do this when I am around here, but at 100 to 110 in the summer its not a lot of good for me to go very far adn my work is 30 miles each way! :( So I do it near my house and thats it. But my schedule means only going to work 4 days now. YAY!

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  2. What a great challenge. We walk a lot, especially in summer but for work daily i do drive to a community lot(about 6 miles away) and take a foot ferry to work. Our local roads are not very bike friendly, narrow and no real shoulders, so for work this works well! Until we moved i used a bike all the time! loved it.

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  3. I'm not going to join the challenge - but I use my bike for local errands, and of course, for fun. I do a lot of my shopping locally and walk or cycle, including the school run ... and of course my commute is zero since I work from home!

    However if I had to collect a vaccuum, or indeed a gallon of milk, I would take my car. (actually for one gallon I would probably walk).

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  4. You do look like a Great White Hunter!!! You could cut off the head of the vacuum and hang it on the wall!! I used to ride my bike when I was young, but these days I have no option but to take the car as I'm not well. We do have a few roads with cycle lanes now and the cycle cafe scene is very alive and well!!

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  5. You know my husband loves to ride. Last summer he tried to commute to work one day just to see how it would work out. It's 40 miles one way, so he had to get up really early, but he did it! He took everything to work in a backpack that turned out to be very heavy, so he left the backpack at work that night.

    I think there are lots of people outside the metro areas that would commute if the US had better, safer bike lanes and more of them. But as I'm sure you've discovered, the culture has to change too. I hate it when I'm on my bike, in the left lane trying to turn, and the car behind me is honking because the driver doesn't know or won't accept that they have to share the road with me.

    I don't know if you read Squid Knits blog, but she and her family live in NYC and do a lot of commuting by bike.

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  6. Ok, I'll take up your challenge!

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