Wednesday, June 30, 2010

One Year Car-Free anniversary?

My one year anniversary  of being Car-free is in two weeks! I hope you will join me in the celebrations!

First I will be doing a profile of me and talking about what it was, and is, like being car-free and if I learned anything from the experience.

Second, will I be buying a car? Lastly, my thoughts on the future.

Stay tuned, oh, and tell your friends.

Peace, Bill (car-free American)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Julie VanMater of Columbia, Missouri. Car-lite profile

Tell me a little bit about you (name, age, occupation, carfree or carlite, where you live).

"Julie VanMater, 25. Graphic designer at a small advertising firm in Columbia, MO. Carlite."

When did you start using a bicycle for transportation and what effect has it had on your life?

"About two years ago. My advertising firm had been working on a city-wide federal grant to promote non-motorized transportation, and after designing the umpteenth brochure or poster that talked about its benefits, I decided it was time to walk the talk. I needed a new apartment at the time, so I found one that was close to my office and downtown Columbia. I took a class called "Confident City Cycling," where I learned what to do in sticky situations, practiced signaling and checking behind my shoulder, learned how to change a flat, and learned my rights and responsibilities as a cyclist. Since then, riding on the roads has been relaxing and fun (as opposed to stressful or scary!). I got rid of my parking pass at work (saving my company money) and I've saved a ton of money on gas. Plus, I'm burning calories while getting where I need to go."

Please describe a typical day in your cycling life?

"My commute is only about 5 minutes, and it's mostly trail -- the MKT Trail ends a block away from my downtown office. It's a beautiful ride that goes right along a creek. I love it."

What kind of bike(s) are you currently riding?

"A Kona mountain bike that I bought from a friend. I'd love a nice road bike, but I can't justify buying a second bike since this one does the trick just fine."

In your opinion, what’s the best part about cycling for transportation?

"Definitely the exercise and saving money. It keeps me active every day. I save money on gas, parking and car maintenance, and I'm doing something good for the environment."

What’s the worst?

"Riding in the rain or when it's below 20-25 degrees. I hate it! I walk to work in those cases. I also dislike cleaning/maintaining my bike or greasing the chain. I kind of abuse it by only getting it tuned-up once a year. (Shame on me!)"

Do you have a favorite carfree/carlite story?

"The first time I rode to the grocery store by bike was a huge accomplishment for me. I didn't buy unnecessary things because I could only carry what would fit in my backpack and bike basket, and I got a good work out too! I was so proud of myself because normally I'd have just hopped in the car."

What are three pieces of advice you would give to someone starting/ considering commuting by bike?

"(1) Women, get a nice "split-top" seat. Trust me. (2) Spend the extra 10-20 bucks on the "cute" helmet. You should feel good about your helmet or you won't want to wear it. (2.5) A heavy or poorly-made bike is no fun to ride. Make sure your bike isn't working against you. Get it from a bike shop. (3) Take a League of American Bicyclists bike safety class if they're offered in your area. You'll be so glad you did! A bad interaction with a motorist can be really discouraging. Knowing the rules of the road and being prepared for wacky traffic situations will make commuting by bike so much more enjoyable for you (and for

What changes regarding transportation would you like to see in the United States?

"Let's start with Portland as a model and go from there. Let's make sure all new roadway construction factors in bicycle and pedestrian traffic."

Do you recommend cycling to friends/family members/youth or others? Have any taken you up on it?

"Yes and hopefully! I'm SO close to getting my brother-in-law-- a former bicyclist-hater --to try biking to work.'

Anything else you would like to add?

"Start small. Replacing driving with a bike commute just once a week is awesome! Give it a try."

                                                 "Part of my commute along the MKT."

Friday, June 25, 2010

Helen McConnell of Portland car-lite profile

Tell me a little bit about you (name, age, occupation, car-free or
Car-lite, where you live).

“I'm Helen McConnell, I live in Portland, Oregon. I've been around for 52 plus years, but I'm about 39. My occupation is encouraging and empowering people to live their best life. That includes cycling and having fun. I'm employed full-time as the Food and Beverage Manager at Portland Center Stage - a professional, live theater here in Portland. I'm also employed part-time at Nossa Familia Coffee Company, where I am the Community Events Coordinator. That means I set up the booth at the Farmer's Markets, and at cycling events where we serve our outstanding bean.”

“I'm a gardener and urban beekeeper - very Portland, very hippie. I am the mother of four (yes four) teenagers. Well, my oldest daughter will be 20 this week. I'm an amateur photographer, blogger and writer.”

“I am carlite, although I rarely drive anymore. I had to register my motorized vehicle today and vowed never to do it again! As soon as I owe less on that car than I can sell it for, it will be someone else's beast. I will likely continue to use ZipCar for some things - like a trip to the beach or the Gorge. I love to hike and backpack - sometimes a car is necessary.”

When did you start using a bicycle for transportation and what effect
has it had on your life?

“I started commuting by bike when I started working at Portland Center Stage 2 1/2 years ago. It's 4 a mile ride from home to work, and I can literally ride my bike right into the building and to my office door, or to the secure indoor bike parking area. PCS is located in The Armory, which is a LEED Certified Platinum building. That means we're really "green." Employees are encouraged not to drive to work.”

“None of my kids drive. They ride, walk, or ride public transportation.
One of my daughters got a new bike when she graduated from high school.”

“I volunteer at the Community Cycling Center, and recently took an Intermediate Bike Maintenance class. I'm building a bike in my basement.”

“Once I started commuting by bike, my entire lifestyle changed to a more relaxed, healthier one. I didn't really change my lifestyle, it just changed. I spend way less money on useless junk, because I no longer go to places like Target just for something to do. I love to ride to the symphony, or out dancing, or to an art show. I carry a change of shoes, and lock my helmet on my bike, or check it at the coat check. I am in the best shape of my life - physically, emotionally, and spiritually.”

(View of Helen's daily commute)
Please describe a typical day in your cycling life?

“I bike to work. Waterproof makeup is a must for stylish cycling :). I check the weather - current and forecast for the day, so I know how to dress. I ride to work EVERY day. So if it's 20 degrees out (which it was many days this winter), I layer up in mostly merino wool- it's quite a production - and get on my "city bike," so I can wear boots and two pair of wool socks. On a warmer day, I throw on a skirt and a tank top, and ride my road bike - with cleated shoes or cleated sandals (KEEN makes a women-specific cleat-sandal). If it's raining (which it has been a LOT lately), I add my Showers Pass rain jacket
- made here in Portland, it's gray and tweed-like, quite stylish and is waterproof and reflective.”

“I have a pleasant ride to work - especially when I zip by traffic. My route takes me across the Broadway Bridge over the Willamette River, to the West side of town. I always arrive in a good mood, because I have just filled my lungs with fresh air, heard the sounds around me, felt the wind (and rain) on my face, and cleared my head. I park my bike and take off a layer or two of clothing, change shoes into something a bit more stylish for work (sometimes), foof up my helmet hair, check my make up, and have my coffee. Then I take care of business. If I have errands to run during the day, I either walk, jump on my bike, or use a ZipCar for big stuff.”

“My part-time job is back on the East side, so I ride across the Burnside Bridge to get there. I'm a traffic-dancer. I get a certain pleasure from riding in traffic. I can ride as fast as a car can drive, and often faster. I can avoid bottlenecks, and jams easily. I love that! It's about 12 minutes to my other job. There, I ride right into the warehouse and park at my desk. The owner of Nossa Familia Coffee is an avid cyclist, so his company supports all kinds of cycling events.”

“I ride home in any weather - daylight or night. Portland is a very safe bicycling city, and I never feel afraid at night. My helmet and my bikes are well-lighted. I run most errands on my bike or on foot. My kids and I are fortunate to live near a Whole Foods, so grocery shopping happens nearly every day. I have four teenagers, so you can imagine how much food gets consumed!”

“I still love to ride for recreation, too, but I don't do long rides as often as I used to.”

What kind of bike(s) are you currently riding?

“A Trek Pilot 2.1 Road Bike with clipless pedals, and a Schwinn, 21-speed "city bike" with regular pedals”

In your opinion, what’s the best part about cycling for transportation?

“Great health/physical fitness; not buying gas or emitting all that CO2; not paying for parking; feeling like a kid - every day!”

What’s the worst?

“The condition of the roads in Portland. The rain wreaks havoc on them, and repaving is only now becoming a priority again.”

Do you have a favorite carfree/carlite story? (Something that really makes you smile or could possibly encourage others to use a bike instead of a car for transportation?)

“My sister - on her Dutch Bike - cruising around the city, looking like she's on top of the world! The transformation has been amazing to watch! She is not an athletic woman, nor does she wish to be. She always dresses nicely on her bike. She works downtown and rides every day. She and I had a bit of a competition going this winter to see "how low can you go?" We both rode every day, even when the temperatures dropped down to about 15.”

What are three pieces of advice you would give to someone starting/
considering commuting by bike?

"1) If you don't want to arrive sweaty, ride slow. 2) Don't let anyone intimidate you - drivers or other riders. Own your space! 3) Have fun!”

What changes regarding transportation would you like to see in the
United States?

“I'm seeing a lot of hoped-for changes, now that Ray LaHood is in charge of the DOT. We simply need to change the collective thinking - to a less car-centric lifestyle.”

Do you recommend cycling to friends/family members/youth or others?
Have any taken you up on it?

“My sister, who is two years older than I am, started riding and commuting by bike last September, after not having been on a bike for over 40 years. She loves it. Our brother-in-law just got a bike and is hooked on riding. Our mother wants to get a three-wheeler. She's 80. I recently assisted in a 6-week bike safety class at a neighborhood elementary school. The kids earned a "new" bike at the end of the 6 weeks. I learned way more than any of those kids did!”

Anything else you would like to add?

“Spandex and ugly cycling clothing are both optional. I only wear spandex shorts for rides over 10 miles. I think cycling should be enjoyable and comfortable. Invest in the best equipment you can afford. Add to your collection of gear and bikes as you go along.”

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Car-lite profile- Pro cyclist Kelly Benjamin

Tell me a little bit about you (name, age, occupation, carfree or carlite, where you live).

“My name is Kelly Benjamin, I am 35 years old and I live in Portland, Oregon. I am a professional cyclist for the Colavita/Baci p/b Cooking Light women’s professional cycling team. I consider myself carlite as I lived in a one car/two person family for many years and always prioritize the gas mileage and carbon consumption costs of any vehicles that I am considering purchasing. I also try to ride instead of drive whenever possible.”

When did you start using a bicycle for transportation and what effect has it had on your life?

“I really started using my bike as transportation when I moved to Portland almost two years ago. Living here and seeing the bike culture wound so deeply into the fabric of this beautiful city has really opened my eyes to a cleaner, healthier life for myself as well as the environment.”

As a professional cyclist, what are your thoughts on cycling for transportation?

“It’s interesting because right now since I ride my bike everyday for training, I don’t actually commute as many places as I would otherwise because I need recovery in between workouts. I still do ride my bike to the store, to friend’s houses and out to eat but not as much as I would if I didn’t spend all day training. My hope is that when I retire from riding full time, I can use my bike for transportation on a much bigger scale because it makes me feel like I am really doing something good for the world, the environment, my community and of course, myself. I think it is a very simple, small thing that anyone can do that makes a huge impact in so many ways. People here in Portland really get that and it is refreshing to live in a community with so many like minded individuals.”

Please describe a typical day in your cycling life?

“My days always begin with coffee and NPR. I am blessed to do what I truly love and be able to race my bike for a living so I can structure my days completely around my training and racing schedule. Depending on the day’s training or where I am at in the season, I usually go out for my daily training ride around 11am. In the mornings I listen to the news, answer e-mails and connect with family and friends. Then I go train for anywhere between 2 and 5 hours. I like to try to take a nap everyday after my rides to maximize recovery but it doesn’t always happen. In the afternoons I hang out with my dog if I am at home and try to do some work around the house since I am gone so much racing. I like early nights with a quiet, relaxing dinner and try to get to bed early. I love to cook so most of my nights revolve around making something yummy and healthy in the kitchen. When I am on the road, which is around 8-9 months out of the year, I spend time with my teammates training and racing.”

What kind of bike(s) are you currently riding?

“I race Jamis bikes with Colavita so I have three Jamis Zenith SL road bikes plus a time trial bike. I also have a Jamis Supernova cross Pro and a Jamis Sonic track bike. For trips to the store and around town I ride a Jamis Sputnik that has a flip-flop rear hub for fixed gear riding or freewheel. I use it a lot to ride to the store, the movies, downtown for dinner, etc. I have two mountain bikes as well, a carbon fiber hard tail and a single speed. I also have a vintage Schwinn single speed cruiser that I ride when I want to remember why it is that I love riding my bike – it makes me feel like a kid again!”

In your opinion, what’s the best part about cycling for transportation?

“That it allows you complete freedom. Freedom from traffic, carbon consumption, guilt, etc. and that it is simultaneously great for the environment, community, world and your own personal health. It’s just a win-win-win situation.”

What’s the worst?

“That is rains a lot here in Portland and I get dirty and my bikes get dirty!”

Do you have a favorite carfree/carlite story? (Something that really makes you smile or could possibly encourage others to use a bike instead of a car for transportation?)

“Wow, there are so many that I see on a daily basis that it is hard to pick just one. Honestly what motivates me the most are bike based businesses. They are popping up all over the NW and I find it inspiring. People who are learning how to take their passion for riding bikes and commuting and turning it into bike based businesses of some kind. There is the couple here who delivers soup to your house via bicycles, the coffee peddlers, the pedi-cabs, the rolling beer distributing bicycle companies, all the different bike touring companies, etc, etc. I am beyond inspired by these visionary individuals and would like to follow in their footsteps someday.”

What are three pieces of advice you would give to someone starting/ considering commuting by bike?

“First, you must have the right/best gear. That way you will be comfortable and it will be more enjoyable. Also, start with something small that you can do – maybe commute once or twice a week to work and then build form there so as not to get overwhelmed in the beginning. And finally, just have fun and use your imagination. Never take no for an answer. You will be surprised how easy it can be and how easily obstacles can be overcome. You just need a little imagination and ingenuity.”

What changes regarding transportation would you like to see in the United States?

“Well, I could use 500 words on this question alone! The bottom line is that commuting by bicycle just needs to be easier and safer so that more people will feel inclined to see it as a viable option. If it is too difficult or a hassle then no one will want to do it. So little things like bike lanes, bike lockers, changing facilities, etc. need to be implemented to facilitate the process. The rest of the country needs to pay attention to what is happening in places like Portland, Minneapolis, Austin, etc. to see what it takes to create communities that support the bicycle culture and emulate them in their own cities.”

Do you recommend cycling to friends/family members/youth or others?

“Have any taken you up on it? I am an advocate of all cycling lifestyles and I will talk to anyone who will listen about it. My family is pretty sick of it I reckon! And most of my friends are living the same lifestyle that I have chosen so they all get it. I have just started to reach out to the bigger community and the youth but this is something that I look forward to doing more of in the future. I try to do lots of school visits and public appearances to spread the message of healthy bicycle living but I need to find time to do more.”

Anything else you would like to add?

“Here is a link to my team’s website –
also we have a facebook fan page – colavita/baci women’s pro cycling team. Would love a link to this article put up there if you don’t mind. Thanks so much!”

Thank you Kelly for sharing your thoughts, passion, and wisdom with all the car-free and car-lite folks reading this interview. We appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule. Best of luck to you and Team Colavita!

Please check out Kelly’s team site and their FB page!


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

seeking families who are car-lite or car-free

I would like to interview a family who is car-free or car-lite.

Please forward this to your friends. I think it would be interesting to see what fun challenges families have living this life style. Whether it is a family bicycling together on the weekends, bicycling to work and school, or just a family jaunt to the park on the weekends.


Monday, June 14, 2010

car-free pictures and thoughts

I need to tell you a secret. I hold back in my writing so as not to offend you. I do not want to offend you. In the case of the recent BP incident I think you will agree this is a sad summer for all the animals and environments affected by the spill. Maybe it is a good time to rethink your marriage with your car(s) and get a divorce or, at the very least a trial separation :)! What do you get out of the deal? You may get leaner, greener, save money, and have more fun.

This is my main transportation. A Trek 820, steel mountain bike with rigid front fork. 26 inch wheels-one Gordo Salsa-the other a Rhyno lite, carbon fiber bar ends, fenders, bmx platform pedals, and a Arkel tail rider bag. The reason why I am sharing this, is it is not your typical bike, this is a work horse, made to go anyplace and in any weather. I have owned everything from high end Mountain bikes to $4000.00 carbon fiber road bikes, but this bike, retails for $329.00(but upgraded the wheels), has always suited me the best. Oh, and it is always dirty because I always ride it! All bikes work-you just have to find the one that works for you the best.

Seeing kids play outside is one of the reasons I love summer. The world seems much happier when kids are playing games. I was passing a house when I noticed this sign, glad I did not have to walk the plank!

Please walk or bike. Peace, Bill

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Car-lite profile-Andy Cline

Tell me a little bit about you (name, age, occupation, carfree or carlite, where you live).

Andrew R. Cline, Ph.D.
I go by "Andy"
Associate Professor of Journalism, Missouri State University
Springfield, Missouri

1. When did you start using a bicycle for transportation and what effect has it had on your life?

I decided to walk and ride a bicycle for basic transportation when I moved to Springfield six years ago. The town is flat and has a classic grid street pattern -- perfect for walking and bicycling. The effect on my life has been profound. I've been liberated from the expense and hassles of owning a second car. I'm healthier and happier.

2. What is a day in your bicycling life like?

While I'll ride anywhere in Springfield, most of my riding occurs in the urban core on narrow, low-speed streets. I live .75 miles from work and 2.25 miles from downtown. So most of my riding is short hops to work, retail, and entertainment within 3 miles of home. My riding environment is very pleasant -- easy streets and tolerant drivers.

3. What kind of bike(s) are you currently riding?

My everyday transportation bicycle is a Redline R530 -- a town bicycle outfitted for urban errands with fenders, chain case, rack, basket bracket, and mirror.

4. In your opinion, what’s the best part about cycling for transportation?

It is a safe, convenient, and stress-free way to travel within a few miles of home.

5. What’s the worst?

The worst part of bicycling in Springfield is overly-polite drivers who try to give me an undeserved right-of-way -- almost a daily occurrence. Sometimes drivers will do stupid and dangerous things while just trying to be nice. I rarely suffer honks or abuse by drivers.

6. Do you have a favorite carfree/carlite story?

It's not so much a story as a surprise. I'm truly surprised how easy this is. I just assumed my car would be calling to me on rainy days or when I felt hurried. It didn't happen. So it was easy to give up the second car and easy to avoid driving the one we've kept. My living circumstances have much to do with this. I live, on purpose, within 3 miles of most everything I need.

7. What are three pieces of advice you would give to someone starting/ considering commuting by bike?

* Choose a bicycle that fits the job. For distance commuting, consider a touring bicycle. For short distances, consider a town bicycle.

* Follow the traffic laws.

* Move farther left if the lane is not sharable (less than 14 feet wide). Most people I see ride way too far to the right, making them difficult to see and encouraging drivers to squeeze by rather than executing a safe pass.

8. Do you recommend cycling to friends/family members/others? Have any taken you up on it?

Yes! And I write the Carbon Trace weblog ( as a way to encourage others. My wife and daughter have become transportation riders. I also promote the 1-mile Solution (

Anything else you would like to add?

I was named the Ozark Greenways 2009 Member of the Year for my work on its alternative transportation committee (known as the STAR Team). The committee's work that year helped Springfield earn a bronze-level bicycle-friendly community award from the League of American Bicyclists.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Changing Carfree American logo? What are your thoughts?

I recently had some people telling me they like the logo, and others dislike. As this is a fairly new blog I am open to changing it. Please let me know your thoughts.

The mission of the blog is encourage people to live a carfree or carlite life style by seeing others do it.

Please let me know your thoughts today or tomorrow.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Bob from Ohio- Carlite American profile!

I'm Bob, 59, Dayton, Ohio resident. White collar job. I am "carlite" and have been using my bike increasingly for both work commuting and all errand running which does not require hauling car-sized items and is within about a three-mile radius . I do most of our grocery shopping and other store runs by bike. I commute 11 miles each way one to three days a week, when I don't need a car for a distant out-of-office meeting.

I am trying to increase the number of days per week that I can be carfree by questioning the need for meetings and clustering the needed ones on the same days. I've found many meetings can be handled by phone or email, and I have begun walking and biking to almost all commitments within three miles of my downtown office.

I ride a 1986 converted Raleigh mountain bike (fenders, lights, grocery-bag sized open saddle bags, etc.)

Best parts: built in exercise, lost weight, feel better, scenery with deer, herons and other birds, no depressing news on the car radio on the way to work, etc. Worst part: changing clothes at work, a few non-attentive drivers, time commitment (15 minute drive = hour ride). I am lucky in that 8 of my 11 miles is on a multi-purpose, separated trail, lightly used on week days, so my commute is fairly free of traffic.

I don't try to recruit (yet) but tell people who I know how much I enjoy it. My wife has done it a couple times (she works ten miles away in the opposite direction) but changing clothes is not an option for her.

Advice: put a rack and bags on your bike and start with errands if you're not ready for a work commute. Try to replace anything under 3 miles with your bike for starters. Those are the most environmentally damaging trips and the ones hardest on your car. Don't spend a bunch of money on a new super light-weight ride unless you are also going to race or tour. Old mountain and hybrid bikes are gathering dust in garages all over. Leave early, ride slower than you could - look around. Get ready the night before or you will forget something. Build it into your life by replacing time spent eating out, watching the tube, etc. You'll love it.

June 8, 2010 9:43 AM

Thank you Bob for participating in the Carfree/ lite American profile project. This is great info, love the advice! Thank you for sharing. Carfree American

Monday, June 7, 2010

Do you bicycle for transportation? I would like to hear from you!

Carfree American™ project- Biking commuter profile. (Whether you bike to the store or commute to work-I want to hear from you!) People of all ages and sizes are encouraged to participate and share their stories!

I am inviting you to be in an article on the and possible others.* If you participate please fill this out; I would like you to keep it to 300-500 words max. This is an opportunity for you to be a part of the carfree/carlite American project whose primary purpose is to teach, inspire, and promote a carfree/carlite lifestyle. The subject of this interview is “bicycling for transportation.” I will need one picture of your face and another of you on your bike. If you have any questions please call or email me. Thank you for your participation.

Tell me a little bit about you (name, age, occupation, carfree or carlite, where you live).

When did you start using a bicycle for transportation and what effect has it had on your life?

What is a day in your bicycling life like?

What kind of bike(s) are you currently riding?

In your opinion, what’s the best part about cycling for transportation?

What’s the worst?

Do you have a favorite carfree/carlite story?

What are three pieces of advice you would give to someone starting/ considering commuting by bike?

Do you recommend cycling to friends/family members/others? Have any taken you up on it?

Anything else you would like to add?

Feel free to add anything you may think will benefit the readers!

Thank you for your time. I will review and let you know a publish date!

(*Please understand this is for a news article, research, possible book, and feature writing purposes for Bill Poindexter aka carfreeAmerican™ and you will not receive any compensation for this interview.)

By sending back a completed profile you acknowledge you understand and agree to the above statement. Thank you!

send to please

Thanks, Bill

Friday, June 4, 2010

through carfree eyes- pictures of summer days

Mother and kids heading to the store on a summer day. I love seeing more and more families biking together like this, either for fun or for utility-gathering groceries or running errands. Well done parents!

A mother teaching her daughter how she can carry groceries in her basket. I love that basket. Bravo!

This is my friend Tom, I met Tom on the Greenway trails 10 years ago. He and his wife are artists. Tom rides an 20+ year old Fuji for transportation and fun. The use to live in Woodstock, NY. They also feed Ferrel cats that live along the creeks. And they get them fixed, and find homes for them when they can. Good people.

Sarah on a grocery run. She bikes to work also. I met Sarah in the PV Star Bucks a few years ago. I noticed her commuting to work a couple of years ago. She uses those two rear baskets for groceries or to carry work material. She rides a comfort bike. I think that is so cool!

Little boy riding his bike to the grocery store. He rode down with his mom and sister.

Lunch with my friend Kate at Loose Park. Hard to beat a picnic on a perfect summer day. Kate works for the Brain Injury Association of Great Kansas City-they give out bike helmets to kid and adults who would otherwise not have them! Thanks Kate!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

through carfree eyes...

I like to roll and see things
like friends loading baskets from a farmers market

or riding roads where only the non motorized can play
I love Springs abundance

and the love of friends