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Car-Free World
alternative transportation news & views

April 20, 2004
| BicycleUniverse
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Tips: Dick Ryan, Loren Schooley, Michael Passman
Contributors: Dave Westenbarger, Lane Wimberly   Editor: Michael Bluejay

From the Editor

Welcome new subscribers

Help me name BicycleUniverse

Doggy on a skateboard



World Naked Bike Ride

Subaru cheats


No jail for bishop who hit & run'd pedestrian

Kunstler's eyesore of the month

Dutch cyclists to give up their home, and cycle forever

Opposing sprawl requires accepting density


AUSTIN: Hit & Run, Cyclist beaten, Density in Cherrywood

AMSTERDAM: Cops target thieves with GPS bikes


Bikes for sale

Car-Free World, a publication of and ©2004 by BicycleUniverse, 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 in Austin

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

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
$149 Nishiki Pueblo 19"
$169 Diamondback Outlook 16"
$199 Specialized Hardrock 23"
$199 Trek 830 16"
GT Palomar 20"
$219 Giant Sedona 19"
$219 Specialized Rockhopper 19"
$229 Raleigh SC-30 20"
$249 Diamondback Sorrento SE 16"
$269 Giant Boulder SE XS
$269 Haro VGF V-1 19.5"
$349 Specialized Hardrock FS 21"
$369 Haro Extreme Comp 19.5"
$369 Bridgestone MB4 18"
$399 KHS Montana Comp 19"
$399 Diamondback Response 14"
$449 Diamondback Response Elite 20"
$499 Raleigh M-80 16"
$549 Kona Lava Dome 20"
$599 GT Avalanche 18"
$699 Kona Sex One 20"
$149 Trek 700 17L
$199 Trek 700 15"
BMX/Kids' Bikes
$129 Diamondback Impression
$169 Diamondback Viper
$269 Redline Signature Series 24" cruiser
$169 Sun Retro 18"
$249 Sun Retro 7 15"L

Road Bikes

$ 99
 Alpine Sporten 15"G

$399 Specialized Allez 53cm
$499 Specialized Sirrus 58cm
$599 Diamondback Expert 58cm
$599 KHS Aero Turbo 54cm
$699 Bianchi Campione 54cm
$1700 $999 Kona Explosif 18"
$1500 $899 Kona Mano Mano 14"

Inventory as of April 4, 2004. 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.

click to visit


Guide to Cheap Airfare
Easy digital camera software
• • Crash course in casino gambling

Mend your fuelish ways.

From the Editor
Welcome new subscribers

    We have around 100 new subscribers since the last issue, thanks to the fact that I finally realized that since Car-Free Austin became Car-Free World, I can promote it on my other sites like BicycleSafe.com and CriticalMassRides.info. (Duh.) So people have been signing up at a steady clip now. To all new subscribers, welcome!

Help me name BicycleUniverse

    I'm in the process of slowly moving the non-local content from BicycleAustin to BicycleUniverse, but what should the address of the new site be?

BicycleUniverse.com  or  BicycleUniverse.info ?

    .info makes more sense because it's not a company, but then again maybe .com is so ubiquitous that people don't think of ".com = company" anyway. Oh, and if I went with .info, then I'd make sure that .com would still work. I just need to know which spelling I should use to promote the site.

    That's where you come in. Vote for .com or .info and help me decide. As usual a random winner from those voting who will get their choice of a super-reflective strap-on triangle, or an email account at BicycleUniverse.info/info, BicycleSafe.com, or CriticalMassRides.info. (Cast your vote.)

Doggy on a skateboard

    I have no idea where else to put this, so here's a cute video of a doggy riding on a skateboard.


    In our last issue I ran a letter from a cyclist who canceled his subscription because he felt that my reporting about at-fault motorists was wrong, and because other cyclists ride too many abreast and ride at night without lights. (Why he thought I would support poor riding techniques is beyond me.) Regarding that complaint and my response to it Lane Wimberly writes:

Michael, I'm always a little surprised that responses to this attitude don't point out one of the most serious logical flaws in the sentiment... It sounds like [the reader] is now hostile to all cyclists because of the actions of a few (disregarding whether those actions are actually "wrong," or simply rude to or inconvenient for others). Blaming a group for the actions of a subset of the group is always a glaring fallacy, in my opinion. I wonder if these same folks are unfriendly to other drivers because they are occasionally cut off in traffic by -- drivers.
This kind of generalization is the type of weapon that is always leveled against cyclists as a group to deny them equal access to support, and it's just flat-out wrong. That's why I think it's important to point it out when the opportunity arises. Your response was otherwise excellent, BTW; don't mean to slam you.

Fair enough. If the reader weren't a cyclist I might have gone further and pondered whether he gets that upset with inconsiderate and unsafe motorists too. But since he's actually a cyclist and his gripe is with the anti-car bikers, that's what I addressed.

In fact, my fantasy is that the next time CAMPO or the City Council wants to deny funding to cyclists because some cyclists run red lights, I want to be there to enthusiastically scream, "I couldn't agree more!" And then show a homemade video of motorists running every single cycle of a red light at some prominent Austin intersection 20 times in a row, and then ask, "Since road users who run red lights don't get funding, when can we expect funding to be cut for new highways?"

Of course the irony here is that it was CAMPO member Senator Barrientos who implied at a meeting that he wouldn't support increased bike funding because cyclists run red lights, and then a while after that the good Senator was arrested for drunk driving.

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World Naked Bike Ride: June 12 & 19, 2004

    Regular readers know that we've often covered that curious intersection of nudity and bicycling. Well, now all hell is breaking loose. Cyclists in Zaragoza, Spain who have had huge naked bike rides with hundreds of riders for the last few years, have put out the call for cities all over the world to hold their own ride, and several cities have already signed on. The Spanish cyclists are riding on June 19, and most of the rest of the world will be riding on June 12.


Subaru cheats

    Subaru is tweaking some parts of the Outback sedan and wagon car this year to meet the specifications of a light truck, the same regulatory category used by pickups and sport utilities. Why? Largely to avoid tougher fuel economy and air pollution standards for cars. (full article from NY Times, subscription required)



    The resistance continues! Here's yet another site devoted to critiquing that scourge of responsible transportation, the SUV. They offer news, articles, and even "One less 4WD" stickers. The site owners are cycling around the world to spread their message. (visit...)


No jail for Bishop who killed pedestrian in hit & run

    Bishop Thomas O'Brien got off with just community service for his crime of killing a pedestrian in a hit and run. Now, motorists getting off the hook is nothing new, especially when they enjoy a high social status. But this particular case is especially interesting since the criminal in question is a supposed defender of morality. That being the case, shouldn't he have owned up to his crime, pleaded guilty, and accepted his punishment? Almost as disturbing as the original crime is the fact that he didn't admit his mistake and accept the consequences. We would obviously prefer this of everyone who knows their own guilt, but we especially expect it from a man of the cloth. (more...)


Kunstler's Eyesore of the Month

    What do you get when you combine poor architecture with American consumer culture? You get James Kunstler's wrath, that's what. Each month Kunstler serves up a scathing indictment of (usually suburban) architectural inanity. The most recent installment shows a bike lane inexplicably striped through a gravelly non-paved surface, sandwiched between asphalt and concrete, and leading directly to a drainage grate, (more...)

As an aside, Kunstler got fairly defensive when I asked whether his use of the term "faggotry" was the gay slur it sounded like.


Couple spends 4.5 years biking around the globe, will now sell their home and do it indefinitely

    Dutch couple Dick Verschuur and Els Schaap spent an amazing three and a half years bicycling around the world, covering a whopping 47,000 miles. Their trip covered four continents, 41 countries, and 18 U.S. states.

    But it doesn't end there. As a result of their experiences in cycling through poor countries they've decided to sell their home, get back on their bikes, and raise money to help the needy. The excerpted and condensed interview from their newsletter is quite powerful:

Dick: We were born in The Netherlands and because of that, simply because we were born here, we have had the chance and the opportunity to travel around the world. In the western world we have the sheer luxury to choose to do what we want. The painful thing is that people in the countries where we travel through ain't got no chance at all.

A child, born in Mali, Senegal , on the Bolivian altiplano or in the mountains of Peru, in Guatemala, Nicaragua or El Salvador doesn't have a chance. If their parents can't afford to pay for them to go to school then the only chance they've got is to be a goat herder or shoeshine boy. As a cyclist you meet children like this, you stop, have a talk, you smile and take a picture,

And then you ride on. That's how it goes. And back home, when you show your slides, you friends and family applaud for the beautiful pictures you took. That makes you think.

Els: We are cyclists but we travel through the world like any other tourist. We see, enjoy and move on. Very egocentric. We support the local economies rather than spend our money with western travel agencies but basically we act like normal tourists... we move on.

Dick: There have been many times that we felt really bad about what we saw. Especially with children. We have seen so much shit with children that it made us ashamed to be white at times. But the stupid thing was that we felt even more ashamed when we cycled into people who were doing something about it. People who have left their homes and all the luxury in it to go out in the third world to make a difference in the life of these children. People who don't talk about how sad the situation is, but do something about it...

Els: On moments like those our conscience really started to bother us, much more than on the moments when we were confronted with the children. In those moments you feel really small.

Dick: You start thinking about what you can do to help. Because you've got the time, and in your panniers is sometimes enough money to get all the children of a little village like that through high school -- if you consider that in most countries the costs of a year in high school is the equivalent of twenty five dollars.

But... we moved on... and on... and on. We thought that something was terribly wrong. The world was wrong and we saw it was wrong but we weren't doing anything about it. When we started talking about it we both agreed that it wasn't the right thing to go freewheeling through this world and take pictures and show them at home just to collect the applause. What would be the point of that? That you show other people how good a cyclist you are? That you can take a picture?

Els: The conflict in our hearts got bigger and bigger and somewhere in South America we agreed that we would somehow do something about it. But what? We didn't want to run a school, or build a clinic, or start an orphanage. Both of us lack the specific skills to do a thing like that. So what we finally thought we could do is this: Fundraise! From now on we are going to fundraise the money for small educational projects in the third world. We are firm believers in the power of education. We think that children with an education have a bigger chance in this world than the children without. We want to help the people that start these projects. We want to help them be successful.

Dick: From September 2004 on we will be traveling through the world doing fundraising. We will forsake our home and belongings and start a life on the bicycle. On our journey we will give slide shows and talks about how it is to go through the world on a bike, how it is to live from the contents of eight panniers. We will do this on exactly the same way as we've been doing this in the past four and a half years but with a big difference... from now on we won't have the safety net of our home and we will not do it for our own pleasure but do it with a purpose.

More on Dick & Els' plans

Their gigantic trip journal, with lots of pictures (you may have to click around to find the English-language version)


Don't like sprawl? Then accept more density in your neighborhood.

    Dave Westenbarger writes:

Anyone who deplores sprawl should be *required* to accept a certain amount of increased density near where he or she lives. Not necessarily on his or her own lot, or even street, but somewhere in the neighborhood. There are plenty of places those extra people could go where they'd hardly be noticed at all (like garage apartments).

If neighborhoods were smart, they'd use the planning process to decide how they want their neighborhood to do that. But they're not smart. Many of them end up fighting all change and end up getting crushed by market forces because they fail to enact protections that recognize the inevitability of some degree of change, especially in the inner city. They also fail to realize that the market forces that create their problems (demand for housing close to amenities) don't go away when you stick your head in the sand. Ask anyone who's been in Austin for more than 2 decades how successful the people have been at stopping change. Inner city neighborhoods cannot remain suburban, as they were in the 1950s, and the market won't let them.


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AUSTIN: Hit & Run, Cyclist Beaten, and Density in Cherrywood

    Police blow off hit & run victim? Cyclist Michael Passman tells his story of his being hit & run'd, the easy identification of the vehicle and the driver, and being blown off by both a police detective (who said that the motorist wasn't at fault because he didn't see Passman) and the driver's insurance company, Allstate (who said that Passman was partially at fault simply because he was riding a bicycle). (more...)

    Both positions are not unusual, but they're still disturbing if true. Of course the motorist didn't see Passman, that's why he hit him. But if you run a red light because you didn't see it that doesn't mean you don't get a ticket. Apparently being an inattentive driver only gets you off the hook if you injure a cyclist as a result.

    Interestingly, the victim himself insisted to us that "the more accidents with serious injuries happen when the cyclist is at fault," though this is not true so far as we know, and Passman could provide no evidence to support his claim when we asked for it.

    Cyclist beaten. Somebody (or somebodies) broke every bone in cyclist Andy Whitelock's face in a brutal assault. (more...)

    Cherrywood welcomes density. Dave Westenbarger writes: "I wanted to offer my take on your discussion of density and Austin's neighborhoods. I disagree with your statement that "all" the neighborhood associations want to limit apartments, duplexes, and the height of buildings... My neighborhood (Cherrywood), through our neighborhood plan (Upper Boggy Creek), made use of the tools available actually to *increase* building heights and densities by zoning our major corridors as Mixed-Use. That way, we were able to direct (or "plan") where we wanted more development to go, thereby preserving residential areas as residential. We also adopted several of the in-fill options."


AMSTERDAM, HOLLAND: Police use GPS-equipped bikes to nab thieves

    Police in Amsterdam announced a plan to catch bike thieves by using GPS-equipped bicycles as bait. (more...)


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That's all, thanks for reading!