Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The reviews of Carfree American are pouring in!

I have asked people to review the blog-I need feedback.

This is from a local artist William Rose.

"Hey Bill! Yes I did look at this awhile back and have jumped on a few times since. I thought I sent you a note about it but I must have been dreaming. You've done a terrific job with this - VERY professional. I really like the profiles - they're interesting even to a non-biker like myself :) And lots of great photos! Are you getting significant hits on it? See you around sb's soon I hope.

happy trails - Bill"

If you would like to share your thoughts about the blog I would love to hear from you-good or bad reviews, suggestions, I need your feedback. This is my first blog so I am still finding my way! All advice is appreciated!


Monday, April 26, 2010

carfree stories from the road

Mike, is the butcher at a local grocery store. He is a little "tilted," but a great guy. He commutes by bike all year round. No helmet, headphones, rides in weather I would not ride in-wearing clothes I would not wear for their lack of protection. His commute is only about three miles each way.  Mike only rides bikes he finds when people are throwing them away; the brakes rarley work, tires are mostly flat, the chain is rusty, and there are only a couple of gears that work. Sound dangerous? Not really, he is careful, and they sound like the bikes I had as a kid. Mike rides everyday, and I mean, EVERYDAY, in all weather. He only rides for transportation, he does not own or drive a car. He always is smiling, and always waves hello.

I was on the Tomahawk Greenway Trail on a few days ago when I took the next pic. It was dusk and I came upon a young deer grazing along the side of the trail. I stopped a few feet away, We stared at each other for a few minutes and I marveled at its friendliness. As I started to go past it, it ran across the trail and I took this pic with my phone. I love how the picture turned out, very Monet like, impressionistic.

Peace on the road! Bill

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Darren Alff- carfree American profile

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

"Hello. My name is Darren Alff. I'm 26-years-old. I run a website called where I teach and inspire people to travel the world by bike and I also own a small marketing company called Silver Mountain Marketing that helps small/medium sized businesses make money on the Internet. Owning my own company allows me to work from home (or just about anywhere in the world), so I don't have a traditional commute from my home to the office, but I do live without a car and every errand I run is either on my bike, on foot, or occasionally I will take the bus. I live in Park City, Utah, USA - an incredible ski resort town located just 30 minutes east of Salt Lake City, Utah."

When did you start using a bicycle for commuting?

"I've been traveling the world with my bicycle ever since I was 17. I had just graduated from high school at the time and I spent the summer before going off to college riding my bicycle with three of my best friends down the coast of California. Since that time, I've spent several months per year traveling with my bike. In late 2008, however, I made the decision to rent out my home, sell my car, and travel to Europe for about 9 months. I could have kept me car at the time, but the car (a 1992 Ford Explorer) was on it's last leg and I didn't want to pay the money required to put the car in storage for such a long amount of time. I figured I would just buy a new car once returning from my European adventures. Anyway, I got to Europe and spent 9 months without a car there, and upon returning home I found that I did not really need a car. I live in a city where everything I need is within biking distance and because I plan to do more International traveling in the future, I decided to continue my life without a vehicle of any kind. I haven't missed the car one bit... and I've saved a lot of money!"

What inspired you to start?

"Again, the reason I started my car-free existence is because I was traveling to Europe and did not want to have to pay to put my car in storage for the entire time that I was away."

What is a day in your bicycling life like?

"It's really difficult to describe what my typical day is like because each and every day is so incredibly different. Most days however include me waking up, checking my email and attending to any important work that needs to be done. Then I head outside and go on a bike ride, go skiing, hiking or something of that sort. I'll usually come back about 4 hours later, take a shower and then get right to work. This is the time of day when most people are finishing their work, but I am just getting started. I'll work for a couple hours and then, if there are any errands that need to be run or I just simply need to get away from the computer, I'll go outside and go on yet another (shorter) bike ride. It's about 1.25 miles from my house to the nearest grocery store, bank and post office, so it's a short, quick ride to just about anything that I need. After the bike ride/errands run, I'll come back home, work until about one in the morning and then try to go to sleep. When I'm traveling my schedule is a little different, but not much. It's pretty remarkable how similar much my life at home and my life while traveling actually are. "

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

"I have never really tried to push cycling on my friends or family. I know for a fact that no one in my family would ever do it, so it's not worth the effort. I don't push cycling on my friends either, but many of my friends have seen what I have done and then gone out on their own and purchased bicycles and started riding. I led by example and they started to follow. But I've never pushed anyone to ride a bike."

"Actually, now that I think about it, it was my second college roommate that gave me the idea of starting my website at in the first place. He had seen me going on these bike trips all through college and a couple years after we graduated he called me up and said that he had bought a touring bike and that he wanted to make a trip. So, while I never really forced the idea of riding a bike on him while we were in college, he picked up on what I was doing and later decided that it was something he would like to try as well."

What kind of bike are you currently riding?

"I have three main bicycles at the moment. My commuter bike is a black, super old, beat up Sierra Schwinn mountain bike. This is the bike I used on my first two long distance bicycle tours. It's been run over by a van and hammered back into place. It consists of bike parts from about a dozen different bikes. I call this bike the "Resurrection 9000" because that's how many times I've brought the bike back to life. It really is a junker! But I love it."

"My other main bike is a Fuji Touring bike. I bought this bike in 2003 for a long-distance bike ride up the East Coast of the United States... and I've since used the bike on four additional long-distance tours. It's a great bike for touring, but it's a great commuter bike as well. With the racks on the front and the back, it's a great way to carry my groceries and other items from around town back to my house or wherever they need to go."

"I also have a Bike Friday New World Tourist (a folding bicycle), which I use on shorter trips that require me to take a plane, train or bus. This is the bike I rode last year while cycling through Europe for 9 months. I took this bike with me to Europe, instead of my full-sized Fuji Touring Bike, because I knew I was planning to take the train a lot. During my 9 months in Europe I took 35 different trains with the bike, 5 buses, 2 boats, 1 car and 2 trips by plane."

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

"My favorite part about cycling is that it is a great way to meet people. When you are just walking around on foot or driving around in your car, it is too easy to just keep to yourself. You don't really have a reason to talk to people. But when you ride a bike you are much more approachable... and it is a whole lot easier to approach people as well. As a naturally shy and reserved individual, this is the part of cycling that has benefited me the most."

What’s the worst?

"I think the worst part about cycling would have to be... um... other cyclists. Over the years I've just encountered so many people riding bikes who think they are better than I am because they are riding a more expensive bicycle or because they have the high-tech racing jersey's or whatever else. Not all cyclists are like this of course, but many of them are. I call these people "bicycle bullies" and I avoid them like the plague. I don't race bikes (although I used to - in college) and I rarely ever go over 20 miles per hour. I don't see cycling as a sport... and therefore I don't feel the need to dress up in fancy clothes or tweak my bike in order to make it more aerodynamic. More than anything though, I don't go out of my way to put people down because they are wearing clothes or using gear that is in-superior to my own. In much the same way that I don't try to coerce my friends or family into riding a bike, I don't go out of my way to put other cyclists down. Some people like to do this, however, and it really ticks me off. "

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

"I don't have three pieces of advice. I have one. "

"My piece of advice is this: If you still have your car and you want to start commuting by bike, your car is going to constantly be calling to you each and every time you leave your house. You'll think to yourself, "I need to go to the store. I should take the bike, but I think I'll take the car, because it will only take a minute." But if you get rid of the car, you'll force yourself to ride your bike instead. So that's my advice! Just get rid of the car, or at the very least, make it extremely difficult to drive the car instead of take your bike. Maybe you could have a family member hide your car keys? Or maybe you could store your car at a friend's house on the other ride of town. That way, you pretty much have to take the bike. "

Anything else you would like to add?

"I think a lot of people have this misconception that you have to be a cycling nut in order to ride your bike or commute to work or anything like that. The truth is, you don't have to be a cycling nut. You don't have to wear special cycling clothes. And you don't have to have a thousand+ dollar bicycle. You just have to know how to ride... and you have to want to be out there."

"Get in the habit of riding your bike; do it for a month or two; and before you know it, you'll be addicted!"
Darren Alff

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

is it just me-or does this stuff bother you too?

I think the two most important things are the health of the planet and the awareness of humans asking themselves a question-do I need it or do I want it?

The Planet is a given, but yet most of us choose to ignore the crisis because we may not be feeling the effects of global warming-we may see it, but do not FEEL it. Feel -not just physically, but mentally. Or maybe you do, but are ingoring it??? Do you know someone whose kids have asthma? Have you noticed changes in the weather? Do you or friends have to be on medications-say for anxiety or depression? These symptoms are typical of polluted environments.

If you start up your car in your garage, door closed, and have limited ventilation, after a while you will die. The planet is finite, it can only handle so much. But yet we continue to pollute it? Crazy.

So you auto makers have had the technolgy for years to put us in zero emission cars, and we, they and govt has know the negavite effects of CO2.  But yet we still let them build cars that ultimately poision us, our children, and our planet. We have cures to this cancer, but yet it is suppressed so people can line their pockets with money that will not help them when they are dying.

I think of it this way: If someone found a cure for cancer, but then hid it from the world so the current supply of cancer meds could be used up so the drug companies and associates would make money and not lose money, but millions of people die, even though there was a cure, would that not be criminal???

The same thing is happening today. The cancer(pollution, global warming, CO2). We have the technolgies to stop the majority of the poisions from going into the air, specically automobiles who use fossil fuels.  If a car company or govt has the technology to stop the cancer, but does not and keeps making and selling things that are posioning us and the planet-like the above scenario-millions of people are dying because of the CO2 pollution and worse the planet it dying. We dont need CO2 polluting cars-now the cure-electric, hydrogen, natural gas is available.

Hey, this is my planet too! I do not want to be posioned anymore. Nor, I assume, do you.

I asked a quesiton on Facebook the other day but go not response: When your kids come home form school, and they just learned they Autos are the #2 polluter/ and major cause of global pollution and they ask you: Why do we have so many cars, or a big suv, or why do we have something that hurts the planet, or do we really NEED our car?

What do you say?

Someday they, or you will ask.

I did  not edit any of this post or any others, I want to give to you what is on my mind. As most of you know I bike and walk for transportation. I see the pollution out there everday. I know no one can be totally Green unless you get naked and move to the woods. ;)

But I feel the need to share my thoughts and I hope you will share your thoughts with me-you dont have to agree, I welcome your opinion.

Tell me your thoughts?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Why I became carfree...

I have always admired people who walked or biked for transportation; they always seemed thinner, happier, generally healthier.

 I went to vacations to places where people biked or walked for transportation and I would ask myself, "why can't I live this lifestyle at home?"

I came up with all the normal hooey excuses like: no time, to busy, it will limit where i can go, what if there is an emergency, it is not practical in the suburbs,  I would be too sweating when I arrived some place, I need special clothes-shoes-gear, I am lazy, etc, etc, etc.

I don't have kids, but I am sure I would have used that one if I could have.

After coming up with all the excuses I could. I saw and talked to people who live life being carfree and carlite(owning one car but primarily using other forms of transportation).

At the time I owned two cars and drove them like I owned a oil company.

I would drive to the gym(to ride the stationary bike), and I would see a little old lady, small, hunched over, walking or riding a bike to the same gym. She had to be in her 70s. I was in awe, she was in great shape, she had the legs of someone 30 years younger. I started to notice more people using the feet or bicycles for there transportation and it was inspiring.

If one person can do it, so can I. So can I. So can I.

I bought a bicycle in 2000. I had not ridden for ten years and I had become very heavy and out of shape. At the time I started losing weight and had been walking and going to a gym. I remember I kept thinking how cool it would be if I could bicycle everywhere. I was insecure in the fact I was heavy, I came up with more excuses not to ride, the bike sat in my garage, but I started to ride it in the neighborhood, then, over time to the gym.

The feeling of relying on my own body for transportation was amazing. It was different than going on a ride for exercise (although that was a great benefit). I felt like I was doing something something special.

Overtime, I decided to get rid of the cars and ride the bike and walk for all my trasportation needs. I lost weight, felt happier, became more tune with my community. The initial bike rides in the neighborhoods became 20-30 mile rides. My self esteem grew. All the excuses and reasons I thought up not to do it had become ridiculous.

My awareness of the world became acute as I had no more walls separating me when from it when I went somewhere. I realized how important our environment is and how I had a responsibility, as we all do, to protect it or ourselves, our children. Health became the most important subject to me. Not just my own personal health, but the health of the planet. I realized without good health we have nothing.

Good health in mind and the fact that other people could live carfree, made me carfree.

Peace :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

carfree meditation

a meditation:

every day the same thing, do I ride my bicycle or walk for transportation?

 i love doing both, it is a tough choice.

i find walking allowed more reflection and I am able to see the things up close that on my bike go by too fast.

but bicycling, the senses our extreme, the body fully alive, and I am aware of everything around me-the weather, time of day, season, gravity, terrain, my body, the world around me

seriously it is a spiritual Zen like experience where you are one with the universe....give it a try.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

carfreedom and the love of cycling

People ask me all the time, "how much do you ride?"
"Alot," I reply.
I start in the morning, a short 10-20 mile ride for errand, fun, work, just to get the blood pumping.
At noon, a trip to a park for lunch.
In the evening, a group ride with friends, or a solo ride to reflect on the world of nature- usally 20-40 miles
Two wheels, I am the engine, I am a lover of cycling.

Once the President of a local cycling club asked me, "what do have you done to promote cycling in this area?"

My answer was, " I ride my bike, I inspire others to ride."

 I am not skinny, young, fast, I dress in regular clothes alot, my bike is heavy.

My hope is people see me and they say, "there is bicycle Bill, if he can do it, I can too!"

I like to think I am the change I would like to see in the world. I would like you to be the change you would like to see.

Peace, Bill

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

life journal

I got in 40 miles on monday, and 51 yesterday on the bike, but those are totals, ie, on monday I rode 6 miles in the morning runing errands,and then 34 in the afternoon for a long ride and going to the store.

Yesterday morning I rode 17 in the morning for errand, client meeting etc, then 34 in the afternoon on a long rid...e.(oh and closed a business deal while on the afternoon ride.)

This is my llife, I like it. I walked to the office this morning, will ride later today, hopefully in a nice storm ;)M

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Clarence Eckerson Jr. - carfree American profile

Tell me a little bit about you (name, age, occupation, carfree or carlite, where you live).
"My name is Clarence Eckerson Jr, I'm 43 years old. I am the Director of Video Production for Streetfilms, a NYC-based vlog that produces films about transportation in cities. I currently live in Brooklyn, New York's Red Hook neighborhood."

When did you start commuting by bicycle?
"Strangely, I didn't learn to ride until I was in the 5th grade; not soon after that I became a paper boy in my town and used my bike to deliver the news. So since age 13, I have had some sort of element of bike commuting in my life, though some places/times I have been more of a bike commuter than others. "

What other transportation avenues do you take advantage of?
"I equally divide my commuting and transportation by walking, biking, and taking various forms of mass transit. It is a balance I cherish, as each mode has its attractions and conveniences. Plus, in the scope of my job, it keeps me in touch with the major methods car-free people take."

What is the best part of about cycling for transportation for you?
"The best part of cycling is the freedom it brings. The ability to use one's own body to get around and be in touch with the rhythm of the city. Yes, sometimes cycling can be rough and weather can be a deterrent, but in the same amount of time the average American is stuck in traffic every day - you can get a workout, save money, put less of burden on our ecosystem, and arrive home less stressed."

What is it like bicycling for transportation in NYC?
"Sometimes my family and friends cannot believe - still - that I ride a bike in New York City. But to me, riding in NYC is so much less dangerous then being regulated to the shoulder of a country road where cars are blazing past at 50-60 mph or more. In the city, you can take a whole lane, the road's chaos becomes a predictable symphony, and cars rarely drive faster than 25 mph. Besides, NYC is increasingly adding phenomenal bike infrastructure which in turn churns out more riders which makes the roads even safer."

What bikes do you currently ride?
"Right now I have three bikes: a purple Bike Friday folder which I use to commute and shoot video from, an orange Dutch Batavis cruiser which I enjoy running errands on (and increasingly commute more on), and a Trek 7.7 FX which I ride about a dozen times a year for long weekend excursions."

What three pieces of advice would you like to share with folks considering the carfree lifestyle?
"Three pieces of advice: Don't be meek: assert your right to the road, but ride conservatively. Get a solid lock. Get some bike maps."

Other thoughts?
"If you are looking at ways to invigorate and enlighten your community, visit and watch some of the over 300 films we have done on bicycling, walking, mass transit and livable streets. It's addictive. Binge watch."

Note from carfree American: Clarence and Street Films have and are doing a tremendous amount for the world of cycling advocacy and complete streets I would like to encourage you to go to their site and marvel at their work! Thank you.