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Car-Free World
alternative transportation news & views

November 21, 2003
Email Us | BicycleSafe | BicycleAustin
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Tips: Daniel Connelly, Rafael Paonessa, Mike Dahmus, Roger Baker, Ted Ledbetter, Bob Farr
Editor: Michael Bluejay

Contents

From the Editor

Update on CAMPO's raiding of bike funds

Forced busing

French translation of BicycleSafe.com

Honku creator writes
..

General

Nobody Died

Lance Armstrong, naked

CarsForLungs.com

Drive Safe, Hang Up

Costs of car ownership
.

Regional

SAN ANTONIO:
 
Thong guy dead

CHICAGO & MARYLAND:
 
No Justice issues

KANSAS CITY & TUCSON:
 
Light Rail defeated

U.S.: Congress to pass stupid energy bill

AUSTIN, TX:
  10th anniversary Critical Mass; Courteous Mass dead; CapMetro buys hybrid buses; Update on CAMPO's raid on bike funds

TANZANIA:
  Man kills self in cesspool after bike stolen
.

Classifieds

Bikes for sale
.

Car-Free World, a publication of and ©2003 by BicycleAustin.info, covers alternative transportation, especially bicycling. No, we're not naïve enough to think that everyone can do without a car, but we do feel that people could certainly use cars a lot less, which would result in cleaner air, fewer deaths, stronger communities, and a better quality of life.

CFW is published sporadically, and may be discontinued at any time without notice. We currently have over 800 subscribers. Here are links to subscribe or unsubscribe.

Articles are by the editor if uncredited. Articles by others may have been edited for grammar, clarity, conciseness, superstition, or just for the hell of it.

 

Bikes for sale

KHS Flite 500 road bike, $400. Excellent shape--ridden less than 200 miles. Shimano 105/Tiagra components, Rolf Vector wheels, 56cm Reynolds 520 steel frame. Call 472-8604 or e-mail   09-03

VooDoo Bokor mountain bike, $450. Deore XT components, White Industries rear hub, Judy Rock Shox fork, Sugino 900 cranks. krsbrns(at)yahoo.com 8-03

Send us your bike ad and we'll post it. Ads are FREE for individuals and run for at least four months or until you tell me to remove it. Please keep it to four lines, don't write a novel. :)

Used inventory at
Waterloo Cycles

Waterloo ships to the 48 states for $40. Just click to order.

ATB/Mountain Bikes
$169 Nishiki Pueblo 19"
$199 GT Palomar 20"
$219 Trek 830 14", w/24" wheels
$369 Haro Extreme Comp 19.5"
$399 KHS Montana Comp 19"
$399 Diamondback Response 14"
$449 Diamondback Response Elite 20"
$549 Kona Lava Dome 20"
$699 Cannondale F400 21"
$699 Kona Sex One 20"

Hybrid
$269 Sun Marathon 17L

Road Bikes
$ 99 Alpine Sporten 15"G
$149 Maruishi RX-3 21"
$399 Specialized Allez 53cm
$499 Specialized Sirrus 58cm
$549 K2 Mach 1.0 45cm
$599 Diamondback Expert 58cm
$599 KHS Aero Turbo 54cm
$699 Bianchi Campione 54cm
 
BMX/Kids' Bikes
$99  Schwinn Aerostar
$129 Diamondback Impression
$269 Redline Signature Cruiser
 
Clearance!
$950 $599 Kona Caldera 20"
$1500 $899 Kona Mano Mano 14"
$1700 $999 Kona Explosif 18"

Inventory as of Nov. 21, 2003. All bikes subject to prior sale, limited to stock on hand, not responsible for typographical errors, prices may change without notice, batteries not included.

Easy Street Recumbents

Recumbent bicycle sales, service, and rental for Austin. Free Urban Cycling classes with your purchase of a bike.


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We're here, we steer, get used to it.

From the Editor

Update on CAMPO's raid on bike funds

    The big update on CAMPO's raiding of bike funds is at the end of this newsletter, since it's Central-Texas specific and many of our readers live elsewhere.

Forced busing

    I had the opportunity to appear as an extra this week during the filming of Cheer Up!, starring Tommy Lee Jones. (It's unlikely I'll be very visible, if I appear at all, so I won't describe the scene.) Our base was a church at 11th & Guadalupe, and filming was at the Capitol. Four of the times we went back an forth between the two locations I rode my trike (whose cargo box was handy for carrying the various changes of clothes I needed), while the other extras either walked or rode in the shuttle vans. But for the last trip back to the Capitol, the coordinator insisted that everyone ride in the vans for some reason I wasn't clear on. No triking, no walking. This was kind of silly is the Capitol was literally less than two blocks away. We wound up waiting ten minutes for the van to show up, then another couple of minutes in transit, for a trip that probably takes less than two minutes on foot.

French translation of BicycleSafe.com

    We're flattered that readers continue to translate BicycleSafe.com into their native language. The latest version is French, which joins versions in Spanish, Italian, and Catalan.

Honku

    We reported in our Sept. 3 issue about Honku, poetry about the car culture based on Japanese haiku, published in a book by the same name. We wrote: "While many of the honku point out the problems of car-owning and car-driving, its purpose is definitely not to be in indictment of the car culture. Rather, it seems largely to be a vehicle for motorists to bond with each other about their frustrations with traffic and parking." That caused Honku creator Aaron Naparstek to write in:

Hey, it's Honku author Aaron Naparstek here. I liked the honku poems you wrote in your newsletter. And thanks for mentioning the book to your readers. One correction, however: The book really was intended as an indictment of American car culture. I'm not sure I necessarily succeeded, but I tried.
 
My challenge was to write an indictment of car culture that motorheads would actually buy and read. I mean, why preach to the choir? That's why, as you pointed out, you find a mix of various types of poems. Some of the poems, my author photo, and certainly the title of the book appear to express sympathy and empathy for the poor, beleaguered American motorist. But I think the overall tone of the book and the majority of the poems point out the absurdity and insanity of American car culture.

Readers can also share their own Honkus at the Honku.org bulletin board. Here's one we like:

My California
Of sand, surf, blonde ambition
Empty carpool lanes

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General


Nobody Died

    Culture jammers have been putting up amusing signs along California highways about the Iraq war and America's addiction to oil. Photos of the signs are collected at NobodyDied.com ( named for the slogan of one of the signs: "Nobody Died when Clinton Lied"), and at FreewayBlogger.


Lance Armstrong naked

   Here's more ammunition for our argument that there's more than just a coincidental relationship between bicycling and nudity: Lance Armstrong naked. The Austin Chronicle recently reproduced said photo of the cycling superstar in its review of a local photography exhibit which includes the piece in question.


Cars for Lungs?

    We have a winner for the greatest unintentional irony in a website name: CarsForLungs.com. (Bonus points for the whole thing being all of three syllables.) It's a project of the American Lung Association of Minnesota, where they invite you to donate your old car so they can sell it and use the money to further their work. To add a topping to this irony dessert, the older cars that are donated are the most polluting.

    To their credit, the front page of the Association's website does identify cars as the #1 source of air pollution, and their very first piece of advice is "Drive less."


Drive Safe: Hang Up

    We were a fan of Cockeyed even before its webmaster declared one of our sites to be "the seventh-best site on the web". Cockeyed is devoted to photo-journals of pranks, pseudoscientific inquiry, and all sorts of parody and humor. In one example, webmaster Rob Cockerham fished an 8-foot map of California out of a dumpster, affixed a Cingular Wireless logo to it, and professionally added lettering reading, "Drive Safe, Hang Up". He then posted the sign in a prominent public location, where it remained unmolested for six days, at which time a City crew discovered it and took it down. See the sign and the story behind it.


Costs of car ownership

Principal on car loan

$3579

Finance charges on car loan

359

Gas & Oil

1279

Insurance

819

Maintenance & Repair

662

Licenses, Parking, & Misc.

534

Total Yearly Costs

$7,232

    Alternative transportation advocates are fond of suggesting that the price of gas be raised, because if driving becomes expensive then people will drive less. The thing is, driving is already expensive. The costs of car ownership are the second-largest household expense in the U.S. (right after a mortgage payment or rent), and almost as much as food and healthcare combined. According to the AAA of Minnesota, annual average car costs for 2003 were $7,754. (The figures shown at right are from the more conservative 2001 Bureau of Labor Statistics, which we list because it shows a breakdown of the individual expenses, even though the figures are a few years out of date.)

    $7,754 a year -- talk about sticker shock! Reminds us of the saying, "Drive to Work, Work to Drive."

    One interesting thing we can do with the car costs is convert them into time. The average American earns about $17/hr., or $14/hr. after federal taxes. So $7,754 in annual car costs takes 554 hours to earn. That's over three full months of work each year. Just to pay for the car. And cars are supposed to be saving us time? Drive to work, work to drive.

    Another interesting thing we can do is to see how rich we'd become if we invested the money we would have spent on our car. First let's subtract our average expenses for our bike, at $220/yr. ($400 for a bike that lasts five years, $200 in accessories for the same time period, and $100/yr. for maintenance.) That means the car costs us $7534/yr. If we invested that every year from age 25 to 67 at 8%, that would be $2.3 million. Yes, that's right, over two million dollars! (Okay, so inflation reduces that to about $638,000 in today's dollars. It's still a shitload of money.)

    In a shorter term, investing your car savings as soon as your kids are born would mean that you'd have plenty of money to send them to college when they turned 18. Or you could use the money to buy a house, and make mortgage payments instead of car payments.

    More on the costs of car ownership, and calculators to figure out other uses for that money, are available at Bikes at Work.

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Regional


SAN ANTONIO: Thong guy dead

    In our May 7th issue we reported on the "thong guy", a 52-year-old man who biked around San Antonio wearing nothing but a thong. Well, he's dead. He died in a national park after apparently falling off a cliff. The article said that rangers found no signs of foul play, but that the cause of death remained under investigation. (more...)


CHICAGO & MARYLAND: No Justice issues

    A Chicago trucker got off with a $100 fine for killing a 13-year-old girl who was walking her bike through a crosswalk. (more...) And a speeding motorist who killed a 15-year-old cyclist in Maryland got only three payable tickets. (more...)

    Pathetic as this may seem, cyclists in these cases got more justice than some dead cyclists in the Austin area got at the hands of at-fault motorists. The red-light-runner who killed Ben Clough didn't even get a traffic ticket, and neither did the drunk who killed Tom Churchill. The admitted drunk who killed Andrew Turner and maimed Heather Sealey did get arrested but was found not guilty by a jury who apparently had more sympathy for a drunk driver than for two cyclists riding at dusk with only reflectors and not rear lights.


KANSAS CITY & TUCSON: Voters defeat light rail

Voters rejected plans for light rail in Kansas City, MO and Tucson, AZ. Seems that some people are so married to their cars that they can't stand the thought of other people not driving, either.

    Is Houston, a light rail train hit a TV reporter's SUV when she tried to outrun the train. (more) The fact that light rail trains can run into things (cars, bikes, people) is one reason that some prefer monorail to light rail. Of course, even in the absence of light rail on the roads, cars, SUV's, and trucks are still pretty dangerous...

    Currently, 19 U.S. cities have light rail, and another 13 are developing it. (source)


U.S.: Congress to pass stupid energy bill

   To no one's surprise, the U.S. House passed an energy bill that favors more oil use over conservation and alternative fuels. The bill then headed to the Senate, where the top-ranking Democrat Tom Daschle said he would support the bill. (With Democrats like these, who needs enemies?) A vote on the bill was stalled today by a filibuster, but the bill is still very much alive. According to activist group TrueMajority, the bill:

  • Opens up the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, and increases drilling in other wild areas.
  • Gives over $10 billion in tax breaks to big oil companies.
  • Authorizes the Energy Department to develop a new generation of nuclear reactors.
  • Increases oil dependence by failing to improve fuel efficiency standards for cars and SUVs, and by short-changing the development of clean and renewable energy resources.
  • Does virtually nothing to address global warming and air pollution resulting from the burning of fossil fuels.
  • Prevents the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from applying the Clean Air Act to certain cities with severe air pollution problems, letting communities off the hook from tackling serious air pollution problems.
  • Promotes a takeover of America's oceans by the Secretary of the Interior.

Here's more on the bill from Environmental Defense. And TrueMajority offers a fill-in form for you to tell Senators to oppose the bad energy bill.


AUSTIN, TX

  • Capital Metro buys hybrid diesel-electric buses
  • 10th Anniversary CM; Courteous Mass dead
  • Update on CAMPO raiding bike funds


10th Anniversary CM;   Courteous Mass dead

    Riders celebrated the 10th anniversary of Critical Mass (CM) in Austin on Oct. 31 with the largest turnout for CM in years, and with most riders in costume, no less. Your editor broke a two-year absence from CM to be part of the celebration. Riders were non-confrontational though many insisted on taking every single lane on every single roadway. Despite this, motorists reacted to this better than they normally do (probably had something to do with the costumes), and there was a curious absence of police presence, although the helicopter followed us around for a while.

    In other CM news, Courteous Mass, the friendly alternative to CM that Chuck McNeil and I started a couple of years ago following the violence on a CM ride, is officially dead, since people stopped showing up for it.

 Capital Metro buys hybrid diesel-electric buses

  Capital Metro, the local bus authority, recently purchased two hybrid diesel-electric buses. The new buses are up to 60% more fuel-efficient, and some emissions are reduced up to 90% because of how the technology works. Each bus costs $570k vs. $280k for a conventional bus, but CapMet says the higher price is mitigated by lower fuel costs, reduced maintenance, and longer engine and brake life. (more...)

Update on CAMPO raiding bike funds

    CAMPO keeps putting off its decision on whether to raid bicycle funds and divert the money to car-only projects. They're now set to make their decision at their Mon., Dec. 8 meeting, which starts at 6:15pm at the Thompson Conference Center at UT (26th/Dean Keeton & Red River). Cyclists can speak at this meeting to demand that what meager funding exists be maintained. A large turnout by cyclists at the Nov. 17th meeting might be what caused them to delay their decision again. By the way, UTC Commissioner Mike Dahmus estimates that the 2004 TIP budget has $580M for roads and only $4M for bike/ped. We have less than 1% of total funding. (That didn't stop KLBJ 590AM DJ's from proclaiming that 15% of transpo money goes to bikes.) If you can't make the Dec. CAMPO meeting, then at least use one of the forms below to tell CAMPO not to raid bicycle funds:

Here are actual sample comments that readers sent to CAMPO using the BicycleAustin form:

"In today's world of overpopulation and insanely congested traffic conditions you give no real assistance to those who are trying to get off the roads and ease congestion. When you discourage bicyclists and others who opt for alternative transportation, you encourage more traffic. You can pave the whole state, but what will it accomplish? There simply isn't enough room for every person to have a car. I'm not at all against automobiles or roads. But don't work against those of us who are trying to make a real difference by changing the way we live, rather than simply promoting more roads for more cars."

"Please, we need to ENCOURAGE walking and cycling, not discourage them! So many times I hear people say that they would like to try cycling or walking, but the traffic makes it dangerous. Parts of Austin have bicycle paths, but we really need to expand these to other parts of Austin where many employers are located and one could bicycle to work. Thanks for your kind consideration. "

The only CAMPO member we've heard from on this issue is Karen Sonleitner, who writes:

As I mentioned [at the Nov. 17th meeting of] CAMPO, I will support the continuation of the 15% set-aside, but I will only support projects that promote connectivity and fill in gaps in our bike and bike and sidewalk systems---no more projects that do not connect to another sidewalk or trail. I'm also looking for roadway projects within the other 85% that include bike lanes and sidewalks within the original scope of the project--I'm tired of those things being afterthoughts.

As always, we like Roger Baker's take on this issue:

Of course stealing even the little bit of money promised to bikes will devastate bike plans far more than it will help fill the yawning chasm of debt needed to keep building roads -- in an era when every other kind of governmental expense is having to be cut back. Welfare for roads to meet potential growth projections decades in the future is sacred because it means profits on land development in an area where land development interests dominate politics.

In other CAMPO news, state Rep. Jack Stick allowed Harry Savio, executive vice president of the Homebuilders Association of Greater Austin, to sit in for him at a CAMPO meeting and to vote for him. This is of questionable legality, and Save Our Springs has filed an open-records request to get details of Savio's involvement with CAMPO. (more...)


TANZANIA: Man drowns self in cesspool after bicycle stolen

 Samuel Boniface, 20, who thought his boss' bicycle had been stolen while in his care killed himself by diving into a cesspit. Shortly thereafter, the friend who had borrowed the bicycle returned it. (source)


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That's all, thanks for reading!