Saturday, January 22, 2011

A New Addition

We have known for awhile that our current way of transporting children was at best a short term solution.  Bike trailers, even the best ones, have certain drawbacks, the biggest being a 100 pound limit.  We have been fast approaching that limit, not mention that the boys were very tired of being smooshed into a very small space whenever we wanted to go anywhere as a family.  Also, our trailer, which we bought long before we were car-free, was not designed for the demands that we were putting on it.  So, we went searching for a solution.

If it was just me and the Artist who were going car-free, there would be actually quite easy in our flat town with mild climate.  But when there are kids involved, there are certain challenges.  There were things that we were looking for in our new bike.  Space and weight capacity were huge.  Durability was a close second.  And safety is always important.  We also wanted something that we could use not only for the children, but could transport stuff easily.  Essentially we wanted a bike that we could use as a car.

After much research, we were pulled to the capital of biking as transportation, Holland, where they have made biking not only practical, but also fun.  So on Tuesday, I emailed one of the few suppliers of Dutch bikes in the United States, My Dutch Bike in San Francisco and found out they had just gotten a shipment and these bikes, called Bakfiets, were selling quickly.  Not wanting to miss an opportunity, we borrowed a truck and headed for the city to see one in person and, yes, test drive it.  Two hours later, we were strapping our new vehicle in to the back of the truck.
                                                            Boys in our new Bakfiets

Never before have I ridden a bike like this.  It is 8 feet long and about 90 pounds and rides like a dream.  It can carry up to 200 pounds in the front and over 100 pounds in the back.  And did I say that it rides like a dream.   It cost way more than any bike we own, but is so much cheaper than any car we could have bought with no insurance cost or gas to put in it other than the extra food we have to eat to keep our motors going.
                                                 Our new vehicle loaded down with groceries

Another biking challenge solved.  I never knew it would be this fun.  Want to join us?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Merry Christmas to Me!

I thought I should post this picture before to many days had gone by.  I snapped this on Christmas morning on the way to my parent's house for breakfast.  This is the five lane road (there is a turn lane in the middle) that we cross every time we head to their house and crossing it is not for the faint of heart.  For the most part, we have discovered ways to get around our town that are off the main and busy car roads, but this is the one road that we have to cross (we have not been able to figure out another way) when we want to head to the north side of town.  It is a beast of a road in the eyes of this biker, but we are careful and aware and don't take undue risks.

But oh, on this day, there was not a car in sight, and I must say I had a smile on my face.  It won't happen again until next Christmas (there being no cars, not the smile), but for the moment, it was bliss.  It got me to thinking how if just 100 people committed to one day a week riding a bike or walking to work or school or the store instead of driving a car, how fewer cars there would be on the road and that maybe, this town would start to think about how to make our roads safer for bikers and pedestrians.  It is a dream.  But on that perfect Christmas morning bike ride, I got to glimpse what it could be like.  I'm still smiling.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

4 Months and Counting

Yesterday marked the 4 month anniversary being car-free.  We have borrowed cars, rented cars, and ridden in cars, but we have not owned a car for 4 months.  In the first few weeks of this journey, there were times when I would be struck with the realization that for the first time in 17 years (I bought my first car as a junior in college) I did not own or have daily access to a car.  And then I would think, "Why don't I miss it?"

I'm not sure why I don't miss it.  Truly, it was more convenient to own a car, and there are still times when I say, "I'll drop this or that off at your house," before realizing that they live 10 miles out of town and there is no way I'm going to bike out there just to drop off an item.  And being in a car is definitely warmer than riding your bike in the rain.  But other than that, the list of things I don't miss is astounding:  filling the car up with gas, repairs on a old car, oil changes, traffic, insurance costs, and parking lots (bikes always get the best parking spots) just to name a few.  It is really strange to realign ones thinking so drastically in such a short amount of time.  If you had told me that we would be car-free and biking everywhere a year ago, or even six months ago, I would have laughed in your face mainly because I didn't like to bike and was pretty scared to do it on the road.

And yet here I am biking everywhere and really enjoying it.  Some times The Artist will just stare at me and shake his head.  He is not sure I'm the same woman he married 12 years ago, but I think that he likes me better now.