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Taking the car-lite plunge in Suburbia

May 20, 2012 1 comment

Back when gas was $2.00 per gallon...I have been contemplating ditching our 2nd car for several years but have been reluctant for various reasons.  While we have decent bus service near our home, many routes aren’t in service when I need to be at work.  Additionally, while the base is only a 25 minute bike ride away, there are hills, a high school with inexperienced teenage drivers, and misty eye-glass obscuring conditions between here and there from time to time.  Most days I’m fine riding into work but there are times where a “cumulative disincentive” builds up to the point where I just drive. Lastly, there are the memories of several heavy snow days where only our trusty Subaru could get me into work. Well, maybe a Salsa Mukluk could too. Or I could walk. And then there are those snowshoes gathering dust in the garage.

All that worrying aside, we’ve only driven our Subaru 2,000-3,000 miles per year since we bought our Prius. Additionally, many of those miles were for what I call “pity” drives – Times where I could have used another mode of transportation, or our Prius, but decided to take the Subaru to keep the fluids moving and the battery charged. But all in all, I really don’t need a car to get to work. My wife, on the other hand, does. Thankfully she is able to work from home many days which means I’ll still have access to a car at home from time to time. Additionally, I have 8 Zipcars within a 15 minute bus or bike ride as well.  I’ve also been meaning to try out the many taxis I see in Bellevue as well.

I’m sure this decision will require some sacrifices such as getting up a little earlier to ride in every day or figuring out how to ride in sub-freezing temperatures – something I’ve been reluctant to do because of a combination of hills, ice, and knowing a fellow bus driver who broke his hip riding into work in icy conditions. But I’m excited to give it a shot and will keep you all up to date on the highs and lows of being car-lite in the suburbs.

A folding bikeshare

April 26, 2012 Leave a comment

While cleaning out my email inbox in a futile quest to reach “Inbox Zero”, I came across an email from Brompton about their new and innovative bike sharing system (aka Cycle Hire Scheme in the UK).  Currently deployed in 2 train stations in Manchester, the Brompton Dock is a collection of small lockers that contain Brompton folding bikes. After registering on their web site, you are able to send a text message to Brompton Dock’s number which will then text you back with a locker number and access code.  I’ve not been to Manchester to see the system in place, but it looks pretty easy to use.

According to BromptonDock’s web site, the docks are deployed in partnership with Virgin Trains and the rental rates are designed to encourage longer-term use.  (Bromptons are the only bikes allowed on trains in the UK since they can be folded to a very small size).

Wouldn’t this be handy at stations along the Amtrak Cascades?  I’d sure use it!Image

Running red lights unsafe, no obvious benefit

November 13, 2011 2 comments

The Portland Oregonian has a video that anecdotally confirms what I’ve long suspected:  There is frequently no obvious benefit to running red lights. Obviously, one data point doesn’t prove that there is never any benefit to it. That said, the behavior shown is pretty reckless and the benefit of getting to the next light before everybody else is not really worth risking one’s life for. Also a note to angry Seattle Times bike commenters: The vast majority of cyclists in the video are following the rules, unlike that Bizarro world you inhabit where every cyclist is a deranged monster out to run down granny, little children, and cute little puppies – Just sayin’

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