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the Editor Austin
From the Editor
Car-Free World covers alternative transportation, especially bicycling. We're not opposed to cars, we're opposed to the car culture. CFW is published sporadically, and may be discontinued at any time without notice. We currently have over 600 subscribers.
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.
Most of you know that I've published this newsletter and managed BicycleAustin.info and BicycleSafe.com for years as a volunteer effort. I lived off savings while doing this, but now those savings are nearly gone. (They were supposed to last a lot longer, but you all know about the stock market these days.) I've spent probably thousands of hours on the website and related projects, and obviously I'd have a lot more money now if I'd spent that time working at a job instead. But I chose bicycle advocacy over income, and I don't regret it.
I'll bet that many of you would have preferred to have done this type of work as well, but your situation didn't allow for it. So if you're glad that someone else went ahead and provided these resources, you now have the opportunity to support these efforts financially, if you so choose. The buttons below allow you to send your love offering with a credit card or with a check. (Yes, you can actually "send" a check online. Go figure.)
As a special thank-you, any amount of at least $2/mo. or $25/yr. gets you your own BicycleAustin.com email address (e.g., John@BicycleAustin.info"). Here's more details on the email offer.
Of course, this is completely optional, and I intend to continue making my online resources available for free, to everyone. Whether you choose to share your hard-earned cash or not, what's important is that you share a vision of a world not completely dominated by the car culture. And that's so important to me that I can't put a price on it.
the level of support that's best for
Choose the level of support that's best for you.
Alert readers will notice that I changed the title of the newsletter from "Car-Free Austin" to "Car-Free World", to better reflect the fact that most of the content is relevant to people outside my home base. But while checking to see if the new name was already taken, I got some very strange results when searching Google for "Car-Free World". The top match is CarFreeDay.com, which has apparently been taken over by a porn site.
Those of you on the austin-bikes email list suffered through a massive debate between monorail supporters and opponents over the last few months. (The furor has finally seemed to subside, as the arguments got repetitive.) Those lucky enough to miss to miss all the fun can read the summarized arguments on our special Monorail page.
On that page you'll also find a survey asking whether you prefer Monorail, Light Rail, or Neither. The informal survey has been running for about a month or so, and the results so far are:
Light Rail: 23, Monorail: 30, Neither: 7, and Undecided: 2.
Of course, given that I'm polling visitors to BicycleAustin.info, the demographics are obviously skewed. My own feeling is that worrying about WHICH kind of rail system we build is not nearly as important as our need to make sure we build SOME kind of rail system. In any event, even assuming there were widespread public support for monorail, there currently aren't any plans to get monorail on the ballot, so it could be a moot point anyway.
Alvord's book recommends the "circle game," a five-step plan that Austin bike advocate Michael Bluejay has included in his on-line newsletters at http:// BicycleAustin.info over the years.
While it's always nice to have a plug for the site and the newsletter from the Statesman (especially given how mercilessly I criticize their reporting), I'd never actually heard of the "circle game" nor the five-step plan, much less included them in this newsletter.
John Kelso rides a bike
Many local cyclists were outraged when John Kelso recently poked fun at cyclists in his July 9 humor column in the Austin American-Statesman. This is not the first time this has happened; a February 6, 2001 column by Mr. Kelso entitled "Let bicyclists pester cows instead of me" brought out a similar volley of indigant "How dare he!" responses on the local bike email discussion list, along with calls to boycott the paper, etc.
But my reaction is probably not the one that many folks expected me to have. While I feel strongly that the Statesman is a fairly low-quality paper, particularly in its coverage of cycling issues, Kelso's columns were simply jokes. In fact, if one reads the original column carefully without having a knee-jerk reaction to the bicycle jokes, it's clear that Kelso agreed that last year's bill which would have banned certain bicyclists from country roads was a bad idea. ("How about this silly bicycle bill being peddled by state Sen. Jeff Wentworth? ...that doesn't mean bicyclists should be banned from country roads in favor of mowing equipment, does it?") As I said on the email list at the time:
Kelso's column is not INTENDED to be taken seriously. If it had been on the EDITORIAL page, that would be a different matter. Complaining about how Kelso describes cyclists is akin to complaining that a Saturday Night Live skit portrayed subjects in a negative light. Well of course, that's the whole POINT. Complaining about satire would demonstrate only that we don't get it, that we don't understand the difference between satire and editorial.
Fortunately, this time around, amidst the screams for Kelso's head, some of the cyclists proved they had a sense of humor, and invited Kelso out for a group bike ride, which he cheerfully accepted (proving that Kelso's humor columns were in fact, just humor, and that he's not some rabid anti-cyclist). Kelso, who reportedly had never biked on the street before, even wore the lycra that he had decried in his column. (In contrast, two cyclists wore a cow costume and another wore a dress.) Here's George Wyche's report:
Kelso reported on the ride in his column today. All the columns in question as well as links to pictures from the ride are on our John Kelso page. Special thanks go to Rob D'Amico for floating the idea, and Patricia Rayburn for calling Kelso and extending the ride invitation.
Remember two years ago when we reported that the City had unveiled a plan to kick the cars out of the bike lanes on Shoal Creek Blvd.? Not surprisingly, two years later, we're still waiting. The original design, pictured at right, was proposed by Eric Anderson. The current plan calls for separate parking lanes & bike lanes on BOTH sides of the street. But cramming that many lanes onto Shoal Creek means that the bike lanes will be very narrow, and cyclists will risk getting doored by drivers exiting parked cars. The plan is in the hands of the UTC (Urban Transportation Commission). (more on this issue)
Riverside Drive inconveniently splits up parkland that exists north and south of that street (between the Palmer Events Center and the railroad bridge). So park advocates want to shut down Riverside in order to connect that parkland and thus create a large "Central Park" in Austin. Of course, they're facing some heavy resistance. The City Council is set to consider an interim plan on July 18, but we expect it may be a long time before the issue is finally decided.
As Larry Akers of Friends of the Parks put it:
More on this issue is available on our Town Lake Park page.
Cyclist runs for Mayor of Tulsa; gets arrested for cycling
Cyclist Paul Tay says he made an unsuccessful bid for mayor of Tulsa, riding his bike around pulling a trailer with a big sign that read "PaulTayForMayor.com", but that a motorist hit him, totaling the trailer and the bike. He also says that on another occasion, a police officer with a Fox News journalist at the ready targeted him for citation simply for riding his bike.
Unfortunately, Tay's site is filled with slow Java, a gazillion blinking ads, and blind links, but if you're undaunted you can check it out at VoteTay.com.
Houston cyclists held a ride on July 4 to draw attention to their requests from their local transit service: installing bike racks on city buses, training bus drivers to give greater clearance to cyclists when passing, and putting in better markings at crossworks. (full story)
Also in Houston, two cyclists were killed, in the bicycle lane no less, by a hit-and-run driver. (full story)
NPR's Bob Edwards recently interviewed Barbara Stone, a 51-year-old teacher, and says that she's used the same bicycle as her sole mode of transportation for 44 years. Stone says she received the bicycle from her mother, who received it from her father, who bought it second-hand during World War II. It's apparently a 1939 model, with coaster brakes and no gears. Stone says that it's not a one-speed bike, because it has "infinite speeds", depending on how fast it's pedaled. Asked why she eschews cars, she replies that they're "Dirty, dangerous, and expensive." As Emily Schwartz said on our local bike list, that about sums it up.
The Bicycle Access Council of Pennsylvania successfully lobbied the PA Dept. of Transportation to include a Share the Road (with bicycles) logo on the back of their mailing envelopes. (more info)
Beneath its benign image as a "travel club" AAA ["Triple-A"] has become a big time lobbyist that mimics the agenda of the nation's giant automobile manufacturers. Travelers who pay dues to AAA find themselves supporting lobbyists who fight the "Clean Air Act," public transportation, stronger safety standards and even bike paths.
"What they [AAA members] don't know is that AAA is a lobbyist for more roads, more pollution and more gas guzzling," says Daniel Becker, director of Sierra Club's Global Warming/Energy program.
Now, a couple of entrepreneurs from Portland, Oregon-Mitch Rofsky and Todd Silberman-- are challenging Triple A's comfortable perch at the top of the travel club business. Rofksy and Silberman have formed "The Better World Travelers Club" which not only competes head-to-head on basic travel services, but actively supports programs for a clean environment. (full story)