Wednesday, January 03, 2007


well, this is somewhat over....

i made it until january 2nd without a car...but since i am teaching an 8am class this winter at OSU's delaware center [14.7 miles from my house], i think there was no option other than to start driving. now, i will certainly find out about my students--do any of them live in my vicinity, can we carpool, things like that]...but for now, i reinstated my car insurance [152$/month; low-milage coverage and no collision coverage] until july 2nd which will take me through the departure for wuhan. of course, hopefully i'll stop driving as soon as the quarter ends...but if i end up teaching another course in delaware next quarter, and the time is really early in the day, i might need to drive again. but if it is 10am-noon, for instance, i think i could easily bike there and back to campus by 230pm for an afternoon section of 104 :)

here are some things i observed about not driving:

1) it was great not to have to fill-up with gas that costs around $2.25 most of the fall. in fact, yesterday, as soon as i got my car out of the garage, i went straight to the gas station and put 12 galons in and paid only $2.15 and felt like i was getting an excellent deal. compared to italy though, where i was in december and where gas was 4 euros/gallon [$5+]...american gas is in fact very cheap.

2) i totally got out of the mindset of a car-driver in the last 6 months. last night i was driving back from my mom's house--after being at OSU hospital with my dad most the night, then going there to drop off his briefcase/wallet/clothes since he was spending the night--and i found myself smack-dab in the middle of post-OSU b-ball game traffic. this is a mistake i *never* woulda made back when i was in the mindset of a driver, always aware of, conscious of, and planning my life and routes through life around traffic jams.

3) it isnt easy to date without a car. it is a little awkward to be planning everything around not having a car...although since i generally like to cook and eat-in, this was a bonus...being able to say "come to my house and i'll cook dinner and then we'll go out"...ha ha!

4) it would in fact be highly possible to go without a car. i went almost 4 months--and actually october 2006 was the rainiest october in the recorded history of columbus--without one, and never even leaned on the last-chance options of taxi-rides, etc. i biked through rain, sleet, even flurries of snow...and since it seems our weather this winter might be unseasonably mild/warm [ie/no snow...thanks global warming!] i think i could survive in columbus without a car, no problem, though it does mean sometimes just skipping activities with friends--esp. impromptu ones--and staying home.

so, anyway, that's what i learned by not driving. it was a great experiment, and hopefully someday i will be car-free again...maybe even live in a city [like Venice!] where there are absolutely no cars spoiling the city-scape and landscape!

biker bob

Friday, November 03, 2006


this blog must be boring...

....i was thinking the other day [as i rode my bike of course], that i hadn't posted anything lately to this blog. well, here's why: there's not much to write. i ride my bike, a lot. not much different than my life since i moved into my house in spring 2005. i bought it so i could be within walking/riding distance of campus, so i had pretty much eliminated driving already, at least daily driving. i remember last winter, i felt the need to start my car once-a-week just to make sure the battery didn't go dead. really, what i guess i should do is sell the big green chrysler and get my Beetle back over here. there's not much reason to keep the Chrysler operational since i never drive it. and the beetle, well, surely it could use some love. it has been in storage for maybe five years now i think.

so, maybe it'll be more exciting not to have a car once winter sets in. maybe i'll try biking in the snow, which my friend tara says is impossible. ha ha!

Thursday, October 26, 2006


almost six weeks now....

...and i am really getting accustomed to life without a car. it's not that difficult, really. most my life occurs within a 5-mile radius of my house...and the parts outside that are places i would go with my friends, so they can drive [and i can buy the gas]. anyway, the breakthrough is that i am becoming quite accustomed to riding at night, which is something i formerly avoided completely. but, i have a tail-light, a head-light, and a flashing light on the front handlebar bag as well. plus, i wear a rain jacket with a thick silver reflective strip, i wear a flourescent velcro strip on my right leg, and there are other reflectors scattered around bucky-the-bike. i'll try to post a photo sometime soon so you can see the set-up.

one interesting thing that i haven't written about is how my genuine aversion to driving resulted in a little problem at work. last winter, i had tentatively agreed to teach an ESL-Comp class at a regional campus in delaware ohio this fall quarter...about 15 miles from my house. but by the spring i was already having second thoughts about being a car-commuter. so, i told the person in charge of this program that i couldn't do it--that i was planning to suspend my automobile insurance when i went to China, and not activate it when i returned, and therefore couldn't teach the class [because i knew i would have other ones on main campus and the bike-commuting would prevent me from teaching a full load] the time, i wasn't 100% sure i could pull-off this herculean feat of not driving, but i wanted to give myself a chance and not be obligated to drive to work in the fall. well, needless to say, because i've already mentioned this caused a "problem"...the guy at work who i had tentatively told i would teach the class was not pleased, and apparently didn't have a lot of respect for my reason [not driving], even though he is a bike-commuter himself.

ps. also, that guy gave me a hard time today about having my bike parked next to my cubicle inside the office....i almost never bring the bike inside, even if it is raining...and when i do bring it inside i never park it there, i always find somewhere out of the way, but today i didn't have time and didn't want to leave it in the rain, so i parked it alongside a file cabinet........believe me, it wasn't in the way at all--the only person it possibly inconvenienced was me, but still, he felt the need to tell me not to park it there. i won't park it there again, but i confess i didn't move it today.

Friday, October 20, 2006


night-time riding

it's 10pm and i just got back from the museum. i rode there tonite around 7pm--right after darkness set in, duh--and participated in an OSU faculty/staff/students night. the wuhan delegation was there too, so it was a lot of fun. there was chamber music, jazz, and then a gospel choir.

but about the biking: i have two flashing lights and a battery-operated headlight for bucky-the-bike. on the way there, i put both flashing lights on the rear and the headlight on the front fork. i think this was a passable arrangement. i also wore my rain suit jacket which, although it is navy navy blue, has a thick silver reflective strip around the chest. as for a route, i took Summit street all the way to downtown to Broad Street, where the museum is. probably about 4 miles, maybe a little less. took about 15-20 minutes. no worries.

on the way home, the headlight wasn't working [it fell off months ago, before china, and i hadn't adequately fixed it this evening], so i put one flashing light on my front handlebar bag, the other one on the back, and zoomed home up High Street. again, not a real problem though i was constantly checking my rear-view mirror...every few seconds.

i think i can handle this biking without too many difficulties, probably because of the fact my house is somewhat in the center of the city and has major arterial roads that are well-lit and facilitate riding in the night. oh, the temperature tonite is in the 40s and there's no rain, unlike last night. ha!

Thursday, October 19, 2006


only half-successful tonite

well, it was coooold and rainy tonite, but i had to go out to bexley to meet my friend and ride to some calling hours with him. the calling hours were at the house of the parents of another friend, outside the outerbelt in fact. so, my plan was to go to dave's house [about 6 miles...summit to broad], ride with him, then ride back. well, i got out there no problem. even though it was raining, my shoes didn't get that wet, but when i took off my rain jacket, my dress shirt was somewhat soaked through by sweat. the thing i'm realizing about the rain jacket is that it completely keeps the water out, but it also keeps in all the heat i produce...and generally, even without thinking about it, i ride pretty hard when i am on busy arterial roads.

after the calling hours, amy, dave's wife, pretty near insisted that david put me and my bike in their minivan and drive me home. to be honest, even though i didn't want to [it's actually a little hard on bikes to cram them into cars, and not just the cars can get scratched/ripped up, but the bikes can to], i didn't resist completely. i was running behind schedule, i knew i had outta-town friends waiting for me at my own house, so i let him. i know driving me completely defeated the purpose of driving--because his round-trip was the exact milage my driving woulda been...but like i said, they insisted i accept a ride. it was cold, windy, rainy, dark as hell, etc....and to them, with two small children, that is definitely not bicycle-riding weather!!!!!


keeping my friends happy

...not that they would ever complain, but so as to be proactive with them about driving me [i'm mainly talking about pete and mike here, since they are my two closest friends in town], i have resolved to always buy their dinner when they pick me up, pay for the night at the movies, etc. i think this is the least i can do even though so far it is not really out of their way or burdensome to come get me. i live in the center of the city, they are both south of me, and for instance tuesday night mike and i went to the movies in northwest columbus and last night pete and i went for indian food up north on rt.161. in both cases, even if i were driving again, we would have made the same logistical arrangements. and in case we want to do something/go somewhere south of me, i've got my bike, and i can just ride to their place, leave the bike, and ride with them from there....

Saturday, October 14, 2006


flexcar program/carsharing

an eco-savvy friend of mine--a friend from the ecuador trip--sent me an email today about a cool program that i had heard a little bit about, and which we had actually talked about at dinner last night.

Flexcar gives many drivers a thrify, easy alternative

also, she says this program might be coming to columbus. that would be cool and might be an option for if i wanna be car-free for a long time. the deal is that many individuals buy shares of a car and are then entitled to drive it [actually, there's a pool of the cars, spread around each participating city] a certain amount of hours/month.

Friday, October 13, 2006


the project itself

i met someone at my folks' house a couple weeks ago who had ridden her bike there. of course i was excited--a kindred spirit. when i had the chance, i congratulated her on living without a car, told her i thought it was cool...but she said abruptly, it's not by choice--i'm seriously unemployed, need to find a new job, and get a car. well, that burst my bubble. i realized then that most people riding bikes aren't doing it like me, with a perfectly functioning car in the garage, which they choose not to drive.

this makes me think about my reaction to barbara ehrenreich's [sp?] book Nickel and Dimed, which i thought was not a very intellectually honest project. she pretended to be poor so she could write a book about being poor...pretended to subsist at low-wage service-sector jobs, all the while, with a credit card in her pocket in case anything really bad happened. with a clear head and years of education behind her, she abandoned a cushy life to try and experience poverty. about like the way supersize-me's morgan spurlock did the same thing for 30 days in on minimum wage.

so, as i biked to campus today, and was thinking about this, i wonder, is my project any more intellectually honest than theirs. am i really subjecting myself to the deprivation of not having a car, if i have an operational one waiting for me in my garage at any moment i absolutely need it. i think part of life without a car is not having a safety net...not having knowledge in the back of your head that if you need to take your child to the hospital, you can get him or her there in a few minutes, faster than an emergency squad would arrive.

another aspect of this project that people searching for my hypocrisy have challenged is that i will ride in cars at all. they wonder why i do it, if i wanna claim to be car-free. i tell them i don't have to swear off riding i cars, just like i don't have to refuse to buy groceries that arrived at the store by delivery truck, or not buy clothes that came off a truck either. i guess if i extended their question/assumption, i should not allow people to drive to my house to visit me either. but that's not my project, trying to eliminate cars. my project is to see what the detriment to my life is--what sacrifices do i have to make, or how much do i have to impose on my friends--if i don't personally operate my private automobile.


upgrading bucky-the-bike

yesterday i got two new tires on bucky-the-bike [will include photo later] and will soon get a headlight. i've got two bikes i ride...bucky--my daily driver, graciously on loan from my great pal dan o'dair who left for hollywood in january--and pongo, my "real bike" as i sometimes call it...the bike i've been across the country on, around 4 of the great lakes [not huron yet], and around most of italy [the alps and coast].

the reason i'm upgrading bucky is that he has fenders which are crucial for daily riding. not sure why most bikes in america don't have fenders, but they don't. and i had to have the fenders put on bucky last spring, but since they're an after-market modification, they aren't perfect and sometimes rub the tires, etc. but oh well, they do the job.

another necessary item will be a headlight. pongo has a self-generating headlight--which is great and doesn't suck batteries and doesn't make riding that much more difficult--and bucky will be much more better once i get one in him too. ha ha!

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