I got the following email from faithful reader Jared Fitzgibbon:
“Now that the bottom has fallen out of the economy, Obama and his team are talking about infrastructure investments as a way to dig ourselves out. The change.gov website has a form where people can submit ideas about it. I went on a minute ago and added my own wish for cycling infrastructure. Lanes, signs, public education, routes, all that. I think if we’re going to be rebuilding infrastructure, now is the perfect time to make our voices heard as cyclists.
I’m not affiliated w/ the change.gov team in any way but I think if you and all of us readers were to submit our ideas to this site, we could really see some fantastic changes in our cities, towns, and roads all over the country. Regardless of political affiliation, this is a great moment for all of us to tell the new President what we want.”
Here are a couple of places we can let our thoughts be known and our voices heard:
Based on a recommendation from our friend Shek Mukherjee (and others), I picked up a copy of Divorce Your Car: Ending the Love Affair with the Automobile by Katie Alvord (Gabriola Island, B.C.: New Society Publishers, 2000).
This book is a detailed look at how the motor vehicle has affected all aspects of life, particularly in the United States. Ms. Alvord spent a lot of time researching this book, and it shows — the text is packed with details (32 pages of notes plus a long list of suggested resources and further reading on the topics at hand). The book is loaded with facts that will curl the hair of the most jaded anti-car advocates among us…details on the environmental, socio-economic and health impacts life with motor vehicles has left us with.
But that’s not all: after illustrating the many ills motor vehicles have visited upon us, the author goes on to discuss the pros and cons of alternatives to driving a car, from alternative fuel vehicles to telecommuting to using a bicycle as transportation. She points out that some of these alternatives really aren’t as good as we might imagine…particularly the use of some of the gasoline substitutes and hybrid-vehicle technology, which may offer cleaner tailpipe emissions of some substances as compared to a gasoline-powered vehicle, but little in other smog-producing compounds, not to mention no reduction in gridlock and road congestion.
Ms. Alvord’s book is not intended to be a one-stop resource in the practical aspects of saying goodbye to the car — merely a stepping-off point and food for thought. Her resources pages can definitely assist someone seeking to go car-lite or carfree, though. A few months ago, I reviewed Chris Balish’s How to Live Well Without Owning a Car, and in many ways, Balish’s book could be considered a companion work to Divorce Your Car: Ms. Alvord tells us why we should divorce the car, Balish tells us how.
Despite the exhaustive research and documentation that went into this book, it reads well — full of humor and amazing facts and is never bogged down by all those endnotes. I highly recommend this as the first of several books someone considering a car-lite or carfree life should read, as it is eye-opening and inspirational. Thumbs up from this reviewer!
Looking for that special something to round out your holiday shopping? Well, a wall calendar is always a thoughtful gift, and everyone could use one to help keep track of day-to-day events.
Look no further: I present to you the Gobikeaustin.org “2009 Cute Commute Calendar”.
Seventeen stunning Austin-based women representing all aspects of Austin’s cycling culture, from triathletes to fixed-gear riders to commuters and artbike creators. My favorite is Miss September!
The calendar’s photography is amazing, and the calendar itself is blessedly free of the T&A and “cheesecake” so many other women’s calendars are plagued by…so this calendar is definitely “spouse-friendly”.
Ordering information can be found by clicking here. $15.00 (including shipping) gets you a 14-month calendar and helps support a good cause — developing a great resource for Austin’s bicycle community!
A couple weeks ago, I posted a set of YouTube videos that showcased some of my favorite wacky “utility bikes”.
That posting caught the eye of one of our astute readers, who forwarded us a link to an amazing article on the Designboom blog. The article is a showcase recently held in St. Etienne, France — consisting of sustainable human- and solar-powered utility bikes, from electric-assist tricycles to a solar-powered DJ booth to my favorite, the rolling human-powered bike shop:
(photo from the Designboom article)
Spin on over to read the full article and to gaze upon some of these wondrous creations.