January 15, 2006

Transportational wisdom

Grist has a fun little interview with Kipchoge Spencer, the president of Xtracycle (the makers of the cargo bike frame extension I put on my bike last year).

He says some really sensible things both there and in the section where he answers questions from readers, but one bit in particular I thought was so well put that I wanted to highlight it. A reader asked about his car-free lifestyle and Spencer responded in part:

I started by choosing to live within biking distance of my work. I see this as a crucial eco-lifestyle choice that has its own rewards, whether or not you're car-free. I also live close to my favorite food store and to several friends. The most efficient kind of transportation is already being where you want to go.

That last sentence is just a brilliant reframe of the whole transportation conundrum.

When I'm talking to people about our car-lite lifestyle and mention that I'm just a three-mile bike ride from work they almost invariably say "You're so lucky you can do that."

My response is that luck has absolutely nothing to do with it. We live where we do precisely because it is close enough to work that I can easily bicycle. Even when we still owned a car it was important to us to be able to keep that car singular, and the best way to do that was to make sure that my bike remained a viable commute vehicle, and the best way to do that was by living close to work.

Update: Kipchoge has posted the unabridged version of the interview on his blog The Pleasant Revolution. Well worth reading the whole thing.

Posted by jeffy at January 15, 2006 09:17 PM

Great point!

Posted by: Julie at January 15, 2006 11:05 PM

Interestingly enough, I now live in Redmond, just 1.5 miles from work and a mall, across the street from a decent grocery store (and close-ish to several others), a movie theatre, some restaurants and a place that will give me an affordable, decent haircut.

Yet I haven't started biking to work yet. I will soon, maybe once the rain slows down a little bit. I'm still a bit shaky on the bike, being that I haven't ridden much in the last four years, and though my ride to work would be 95% bike trail, there are a lot of cyclists that ride there and I think I'd feel more comfortable when it's a little less wet outside.

That said, I guess it's progress, right? I like the idea of not having to drive everywhere, and once school ends, the biggest hurdle will be finding a way to get to my mailbox (in Magnolia) once every two weeks or so until September, when I can change the financial aid address to my home address without causing mass amounts of problems.

I can't wait.

Posted by: Tara at January 17, 2006 11:04 AM

That's really cool that you've got an improved transportation situation, Tara! I used to cringe reading about your car and commute woes.

In talking about your comment, Becky reminded me that she was at a similar place as far as bicycling goes when we started our car-free experiment almost a year ago. It took her a while to feel comfortable riding her bike at all, let alone on Issaquah's busy streets. Over time she's gotten better and better.

Still, January in Seattle is not the optimal time to start riding your bike. Got fenders?

Posted by: jeffy at January 19, 2006 04:39 PM
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