Tips: Daniel Connelly, Rafael
Paonessa, Mike Dahmus, Roger Baker, Ted Ledbetter, Bob
Contents From the Editor General Regional SAN ANTONIO: CHICAGO & MARYLAND: KANSAS CITY & TUCSON: Classifieds 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. 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.
From the Editor
CHICAGO & MARYLAND:
KANSAS CITY & TUCSON:
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.
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.
inventory at Waterloo ships to the 48 states for $40. Just
click to order. 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
Waterloo ships to the 48 states for $40. Just click to order.
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.
From the Editor
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.
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 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:
Readers can also share their own Honkus at the Honku.org bulletin board. Here's one we like:
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.
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
$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.
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
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:
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:
The only CAMPO member we've heard from on this issue is Karen Sonleitner, who writes:
As always, we like Roger Baker's take on this issue:
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!