Tag Archives: bicycling

The Bicycling Backlash On Both Sides Of The Pond

By Micheline Maynard

How could anybody dislike bicyclists? They’re engaging in a healthy activity. They eschew fossil fuels. They allow garages to be used for storage.

It turns out that there’s plenty of antipathy for bicyclists, on both sides of the Atlantic. And it looks like cycling needs to do something to fix its image.

You don’t have to dig very deep to find someone who thinks bicycling is a bad idea. Not long after Citi Bikes got started in New York City, Wall Street Journal contributor Dorothy Rabinowitz went after the cycling system with both barrels.

Now, Jake Wallis Simons of the British newspaper, The Telegraph, is joining her with his own objection to the bicyclists who are flooding England’s streets. Continue reading

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Filed under bicycling, bike sharing

Learning Lessons From A Car-Free Existence In Austin

In our latest student-written story, a chemistry major at the University of Texas talks about his car-free conversion.

Andrew Hartford with his bike.

Andrew Hartford with his bike

By Andrew Hartford

Before I came to Austin, Texas for college, I lived in a car-dependent suburb of San Antonio. During my high school years there, I bought a car, submitting to societal pressure and parental advice.

According to my dad, buying the car was an investment.  “You can’t get a job without a car,” he told me.  At job interviews, one of the recurring questions I was asked was, “Do you have a car?” lending to the notion that a car symbolized personal reliability and competence.  I was under the false pretense that cars meant freedom and that somehow without one, I’d be less attractive as an employee.

I worked long hours at a fast food restaurant, only to realize I was putting my paycheck directly back into the very thing that was supposed to help me earn money.  I began to grow disdainful about this costly thing that society seemed to be obsessed with.  I felt as though my car was a complete drag on my life; not only having to pay for it but having to maintain it as well.

In addition, I felt guilty  that it polluted the air and used up precious fossil fuels that take thousands of years to form.  This did not feel like “freedom” to me.

The final straw for my car ownership was when I got into an accident the summer of 2010.   Continue reading

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Filed under bicycling, Driving, student stories

Places Where People Bike Are Places Where People Are Happy

By Micheline Maynard

How to be happy? Ride a bike.

All this summer, I’ve slowly been getting back up to speed on a bicycle. I haven’t ridden regularly in decades, although I’ve tried just about every kind of exercise. But I made a vow that if I was going to lead Curbing Cars, I needed to feel comfortable on a bike.

It’s still pretty hard for me to pedal up the hills near my house. However, there’s a moment in every ride when I’ve felt the exhilaration of gliding along under the trees, waving to my neighbors, generally just enjoying myself.

So, I was pleased to find that the new World Happiness Report says people are happiest in places where bicycling is popular. According to the report, sponsored by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Denmark is the happiest nation on earth, followed by Norway, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Sweden.

As the National Geographic puts it:

“Denmark and the Netherlands (the happiest and the fourth-happiest countries on Earth) are renowned for being the world’s most bicycle-friendly nations; the other most-happy countries are also famously bicycle friendly.” NatGeo makes the distinction between people who have to ride bikes because that’s the main mode of transportation they can afford, and those who ride bicycles out of choice. Continue reading

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Filed under bicycling, public transportation

Bike Share Review: Riding In The Nation’s Capitol

By Micheline Maynard

Capital Bikeshare

Curbing Cars backer Michael Leland is an avid cyclist who spends lots of time on the road in Wisconsin, where he is the news director for Wisconsin Public Radio.

In our inaugural Bike Share Review, Michael writes about his experience testing out Capital Bikeshare in Washington, D.C.

“A few years ago, I was staying in Crystal City, (Arlington), Virginia for a conference, and there was a Capital Bikeshare station in front of the hotel.  I bike a lot at home in Wisconsin and try to exercise when I’m on the road, so I thought it would be nice to use on of the bikes for early-morning rides along the Potomac.

The station instructions were straightforward and I was easily able to adjust the bike so that I fit on it comfortably.  Several mornings that week, I rode a 6-10 mile loop along the river, and crossed into D.C. to ride past the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. Continue reading

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Filed under bicycling, Bike Share Review, bike sharing

City Planners, Take Note: The 4 Kinds Of Cyclists

954691_461012847330706_975817209_nBy Micheline Maynard

Urban planners all over the world are trying to figure out how to set aside space for bicyclists. Now, a study by McGill University researchers is dividing them into four types — and finding they don’t all have the same needs.

The study, which I wrote about for Forbes.com, measured responses from 2,000 cyclists around Montreal. It divides cyclists into four main types.

Path-using cyclists (36 percent) are motivated by convenience, the fun of riding, and the identity that cycling gives them. They would rather use bike paths than deal with traffic, and are the most likely to advocate for dedicated bike lanes. These are people whose parents actively encouraged them to cycle.  Continue reading

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Filed under Uncategorized, urban planning

My Transportation Diary: A Hodge-Podge Of Travel Habits

Up in Wisconsin, a fine ride.

Up in Wisconsin, a fine ride.

By Micheline Maynard

Aubrey Burleson-Sanford relies on a mix of transportation: he drives, is driven and relies on his bike.

Aubrey, a student at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, checked in from Door County, Wisconsin, to share his transportation diary for last week. (That’s the Toyota Sienna he took to get to Wisconsin’s vacation land.)

Here’s how Aubrey puts it:

“My own car, a 2005 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor is broken (busted transmission), so I have to use a hodgepodge of family and friends’ cars when I need a car.

I didn’t work or have class at all this weekend, so there’s not any sort of commuting pattern, but there are a few other patterns. I have a couple unusual key locations I go to and from, but it would be interesting to see how someone interprets this without knowing those.

(Editor’s note: We aren’t going to tell you what Aubrey is doing at some of these hours. We’ll let you guess.)

Looking at this, I wish I had biked more, but most of my traveling, since I didn’t really have any obligations, happened because I had a car and decided to go do such-and-such thing, instead of I needed to get to a thing and therefore got a car.  Continue reading

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Filed under bicycling, Driving, My Transportation Diary, walking

My Transportation Diary: Driving And Cycling In North Carolina

By Micheline Maynard

We’ve launched a regular feature called My Transportation Diary, asking you to tell us how you get around. My Transportation Diary

It’s a great way to compare notes, see transportation trends in different parts of the country, and hear thoughts from people who are mixing up their transportation options.

In this episode, Dan Leinbach, who lives in North Carolina, shares his diary. He came to us through Jalopnik, the automotive enthusiast site, where Curbing Cars has a Kinja page. You’re welcome to read our posts and take part in the conversation. Dan’s Jalopnik screen name is Thunder.

Here’s Dan’s diary:

I work from home full-time.  I think the nearest office of my company is maybe Richmond, VA.  I’m in Apex, a suburb of Raleigh, NC.  My normal day consists of taking my daughter to school (about 2 miles each way); mid afternoon, she’s dropped back off at home.  Most evenings she has some kind of activity to attend, all very local.  Continue reading

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Filed under bicycling, Driving, My Transportation Diary