Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What is National Complete Streets Coalition and why does our Mayor not know about it.

I was recently (a couple of months ago) at a town hall style meeting in Kansas City with the Mayor. It was sponsored by a pedestrian and cyling advocay group. Toward the end of the meeting someone asked what type of Complete Streets program was in place for KC. The Mayor replied,

"Complete streets? I don't know what that is, what is that?"

Being fairly new to advocacy myself I realized even I did not understand complete streets or the history of it. I thought I would share with you all.

Borrowed from the Complete Streets site:

The National Complete Streets Coalition                                      

"The streets of our cities and towns are an important part of the livability of our communities. They ought to be for everyone, whether young or old, motorist or bicyclist, walker or wheelchair user, bus rider or shopkeeper. But too many of our streets are designed only for speeding cars, or worse, creeping traffic jams.

Now, in communities across the country, a movement is growing to complete the streets. States, cities and towns are asking their planners and engineers to build road networks that are safer, more livable, and welcoming to everyone.

Instituting a complete streets policy ensures that transportation planners and engineers consistently design and operate the entire roadway with all users in mind - including bicyclists, public transportation vehicles and riders, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities."

The sight itself is very easy to navigate and host a wealth of information that is relevant to the cause.

Additionally they have a great blog too

I would like to encourage anyone interested in learning more about alternative transportation and/or wanting to be involved to check out their site and join.

See you on the road!
Peace, Bill

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cyclists are inferior to motorists?

Inferiority Complex : many pedestrians and cyclists sometimes feel and act like they are inferior to drivers.

Comments by John Forester, P.E.

"I have used the term "cyclist-inferiority" in several applications, but these application all serve to describe aspects of the false concept that cyclists are inferior to motorists.

The political application is that it serves the motoring organizations, and therefore the highway organizations that they control, and in addition many politicians, to consider cyclists as inferior to motorists. By considering cyclists inferior to motorists, government can deny to cyclists some of the important rights that apply, in legal terms, to drivers of vehicles, but which are commonly supposed to apply to motorists, because cyclists and motorists are the only significant users of the nation's roadways. The rights denied are denied purely for the convenience of motorists. The most important of these are the right to use most of the width of the roadway, and the right to use roadways at all when bike lanes or bike paths have been produced, or those roadways which cannot be reached by driveways. The only reason for these restriction s that stands up to scientific analysis is the belief, on the part of motorists, that cyclists delay motorists.

The social application is the extension of the above political excuse to characterize cyclists. The official view is that 95% of cyclists are unable to learn how to obey the traffic laws. Of course, they conceal this behind propagandist jargon, terming the ability to obey the traffic laws "expert skill" and those with it the "elite." Since cyclists are very little different from the population at large, that means that, supposedly, 95% of motorists must be incapable of driving properly. However, the meanness of that attitude is demonstrated immediately by the obvious reluctance of the same motoring organizations and motorists to restrict motor-vehicle driving privilege to those who demonstrate an expert, elite, level of skill. No, as long as you drive a car, only considerably below average skill is required to receive a driving license. It is absurd to consider that most adult cyclists are incapable of knowing how to obey the traffic laws when most adult cyclists, in the USA at least, have been certified by the government as having that knowledge and skill. The only excuse for this absurdity has to be the false idea that riding a bicycle makes you temporarily incompetent, an incompetence from which you recover the moment you get behind the steering wheel of a motor vehicle.

The superstitious application of the phrase cyclist-inferiority refers to the feelings induced in people by the propaganda which has been used to promote motorists' interests. These feelings include the ones that cars own the roads, that cars don't look out for me, that I, when on a bicycle, am an intruder onto their range, from which they will eject me by either threats or death. One pervasive and effective form of that propaganda has been the traditional bike-safety propaganda program (it never was safe cycling instruction and cannot be called that), which taught cyclist-inferiority superstition, no matter how dangerous that was for cyclists. Thirty percent of car-bike collisions in the Cross study (mid 1970s) are caused by the cyclist obeying the precepts of bike-safety education.

The psychological application of the phrase cyclist inferiority refers to the cyclist-inferiority phobia, complex, or superstition, depending on severity of the case. This is the sense that:

"I, the cyclist, don't really belong on the road, which is owned by the cars, and that I am unable to follow the traffic laws for drivers of vehicles, or that if I did I would quickly be smashed."

"The roads are very dangerous places where everybody is against me, and where I have no place that I can call my own to which I could retreat as a place of safety. Since the greatest danger is from cars, which operate to my danger, obviously the greatest danger to me is the same-direction traffic that comes from behind. To protect myself from this great danger, I must do all that I can to avoid same-direction motor traffic, to defer to it when it is present, to always give it the right of way, etc., including promoting bike lanes and bike paths to protect myself from this danger."It suits motorists, which means most people in the USA, and therefore the various governments of the USA, to have cyclists considered inferior to motorists. That provides the excuse for doing things that clear the roads of cyclists for motorists' convenience. And it assists them a whole lot if cyclists cooperate by considering themselves to be inferior to motorists.

For all of these reasons (and there are probably more), it is accurate to apply the name of "cyclist inferiority" to the type of cycling and the associated feelings, superstitions, and political urges that carry out this program of motorist superiority"

John Forester, P.E.

Walk, bike, have fun! Peace, Bill

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Abby rode-community profile

I love the beginning of Fall. Apples, pumpkins, cooler weather, the air heavy with change, child like anticipation of the holidays, and time spent with friends and family.

I was for a bike ride to a local farmers market yesterday. I  was meandering through old neighborhoods I serendipitously connected paths with a long time cycling neighbor, Abby.

One of the greatest things about walking, biking, or taking mass transit, it allows people to interact if they choose to and promotes a healthier community.

I first met Abby 10 years ago. I would see her riding in the Prairie Village area, sometimes alone, sometimes with her father. I had just started the car-free life, and I was bicycling for the majority of my transportation needs. I noticed they dressed in regular clothes, comfortable shorts with cotton t-shirts and they never seemed to be in a hurry.  They always seemed happy and content while riding. I remember thinking how special their time together must be. Father and daughter, bicycling though the wilds of Kansas City, exploring, talking, engaging in life, how cool.

Since then, I have seen Abby on the road every year, in all kinds of weather and all times of day. She, like me, mostly rides her bike solo.

Our conversations were always kept to a quick, "Hi," or "How are you?" as we passed each other on the streets.


Yesterday, after taking a turn on the same street we found ourselves rolling side by side, this time going in the same direction.

We had a great conversation and Abby became more than just a passing snapshot on the road. Chatting about everything from our jobs, to the types of bikes we like to ride, to learning she sometimes commutes to work on her bike from the Waldo area to downtown KC. Married, with two kids I thought it great she incorporates alternative transportation into her life.

I finally headed to the farmers market, she rode with me and then took off on her own to finish her ride whilst I foraged for fresh veggies from some local organic farmers at the Brookside Farmers Market.

It was good to finally connect with Abby.

See you on the road! Peace.

Friday, September 17, 2010

What people are saying

"I enjoy reading your posts and advocacy for biking and using less fossil fuels - I completely agree! A perfect day for me is when I can leave my car in the garage and I can either bike or walk everywhere to do my errands and socializing. We live in a great community that is right on the train line (13 minutes to Philly and my work) and we can walk to the grocery store, movie theater, hardware store, 5+10, restaurants, bars, playground, schools, etc. Living minimally, small footprint and not giving in to the "bigger is better" mentaility that so many Americans have (I hate it!). But it is political and people like to slurp up their energy! " From Dana, a friend in Philly, PA

500 Facebook fans or bust!

We need your help

to get to ‎500  friends on our car-free American fans Facebook page or bust! Once we have 500, there will be an announcement of incredible international importance that will affect all people.

Would you help us promote a car-free and car-lite world?

Please share us with your friends-

you never know who's life you may change in a positive way.

Let's create some positive change in this crazy world

 for people of all shapes, sizes, ages, races,

and whatever they want to be! :) Peace.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Car-Free American has a new look and mission

Hey all,

I think the new look is a better fit with the colors in the logo.

Also I changed the Mission to promote something I think is more important than anything else, good health.

By being car-free or car-lite we will promote:

Healthly bodies and minds we will live longer and be happier.

Healthy environment gives us a place to live and helps us become better stewards of the Earth.

Finally, a healthy community will support healthy people and healthy environment.

The site itself promotes alternative transportation.

After all, without our health we have nothing.

Please let me know your thoughts or ideas on how to make this better.

Peace, Bill

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

some carfreeisms: wisdom for the ages

  1. Don't eat taco's whilst riding your bike.
  2. Never ride in the middle of a tornado.
  3.  Do not buy a pumpkin bigger than your bicycle.
  4. Lie, when the police officer ask you, "Did you mean to run that stop sign?"
  5. Great ride food: flour tortilla, peanut butter, honey, raisins, and slices of banana's or apple.
  6. Leave your cat at home.

If you have carfreeisms you would like to share....share.

peace, Bill

Monday, September 13, 2010

Help wanted!

I am seeking someone to co-manage this blog and the ajoining Facebook page.  I am finding that there are many other people that would like to be interviewed and more subjects of interests, but I do not have the time to do it all by myself.

I really want to work with someone who shares the same passion as I and who would like to add and help grow this site and possibly turn it in to a business-for profit or non-profit(not sure yet).

I am hoping to interview people of the next week. If you are interested in becoming part of Car-Free American please let me know. Email me at and let me know why you would be interested in helping me manage the site and something about yourself. Also I would like to know when you would be available for a phone interview.

Someone who is passionate about alternative transportation and helping make the world a better place. Need someone with excellent communitcation skills, easy going personality, has high integrity, savvy with social media, marketing, creative, digital, and/ or sales are a plus. Can devote 5-10 hours a week.

Obvioulsy this is a non paying role and I am not sure where this site will go, but I know it will go somewhere great. I started Car-free American in Feb and the response so far is great.

If you have ideas on how to make it better, or want to be a part of it, contribute articles, or be the co-manager of the site let me know.



Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ideal Mass Transit- Curtiba, Brazil

I met a woman today, Amy, who enlightened me about Curtiba. She herself is passionate about recycling and the environment. She was very interested in hearing about my car-free lifestyle.

So, thank you Amy for your interest and sharing Curtiba.

Curitiba, Brazil first adopted its Master Plan in 1968. Since then, it has become a city well known for inventive urban planning and affordable (to the user and the city) public transportation.

Curitiba's Bus Rapid Transit system is the source of inspiration for many other cities including the TransMilenio in Bogotá, Colombia; Metrovia in Guayaquil, Ecuador; as well as the Orange Line of Los Angeles.

This video illustrates how Curitiba's public transportation system operates and the urban planning and land use principles on which it is based, including an interview with the former Mayor and architect Jaime Lerner. Current city employees also discuss the improvements that are being made to the system to keep it up to date and functioning at the capacity of a typical subway system. Curitiba is currently experimenting with adding bypassing lanes on the dedicated BRT routes and smart traffic lights to prioritize buses. They are even constructing a new line which will have a linear park and 18km of bike lane that parallels the bus transit route.

Bike riding adventure on the Flint Hills Nature Trail

I had a great ride on Monday with Randy Rasa on the Flint Hills Nature Trail, we had a nice adventure and even ended up saving a dog.

Here is the story on Randy's blog:

Peace, Bill