Friday, December 23, 2011

Carfree Family of seven

A rare photo of all 7
Summer of 2011
 Can you have a Carfree Family?

A year ago, a Hillsboro family decided to get rid of their minivan.

Now the family of seven traverses the suburbs by bike. In this video, 15-year-old Vivianna talks about what the year has been like.

Thanksgiving is just like any day for our carfree family: food cooking before dawn, mom out for more before the store opens. Grateful for organic food, family, cycles, and the sun's brief appearance during a beautiful ride! November 24, 2011
We at Carfree American are so proud of this family of seven taking away the excuses of not being able to be carfree because of a family-they are proving YOU CAN HAVE A FAMILY AND BE CARFREE TOO!
You all are an inspriation!!!
See more pictures of the carfree family and let them know what you think on their
Happy Holidays and may you walk, bike, or ski for transportation this winter!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

How to not get hit by cars

Here at Carfree American we are aware most of our content is unoriginal, and we are cool with that, because our focus is to share our experiences, or others experiences,  to people who want to share in a healthier lifestyle.

Sometimes there is no point in writing articles that have already been written well regarding Bicycle Safety.

One such article, we recently found, highlights "How not to get hit by a car while bicycling for transportation."

Everyone should read this as at some point in your cycling life you will be invovled in all these scenario's.

Thanks to and Michael Bluejay for this wealth of information!

How to Not Get Hit by Cars

important lessons in Bicycle Safety
by Michael Bluejay

Around 33,000 people die in car crashes in the U.S. each year.
About 1 in 41 is a bicyclist.

PS from Carfree American:

You do not think it could happen to you???

Here is a post of what happened to my friend Vanessa

Be safe,
Peace, Bill

Resources and Education

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Stay hungry, stay foolish and Steve Jobs

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish...Thank you Steve Jobs
In the late 1970s when the Whole Earth Catalog decided to call it quits and come out with the final edition, they came up with a interesting ending. On the back cover there is the scene of a country road, somewhere in America, and above it four words: stay hungry, stay foolish.

The Whole Earth Catalog was the paper equivalent internet of the 70s. It focused on the environmental movement of the time sharing information from; sustainable living, to Outward Bound, to gardening tools, to animal and human rights organizations, and to much more.

I remember lying on my parent’s bed reading it, as one cool idea morphed into another cool idea, just as the internet works today. It opened up my mind to possibilities’ I may not have ever known about.

Recently, I was having dinner with a friend of mine who I had not seen for 38 years, Duane Benton who is now 80. I was telling Duane about some of my entrepreneurial experiences and personal philosophies regarding my own life and my view of the world, and how much of those experiences help to shape who I am and have led me to the life I lead now as an entrepreneur and alternative transportation advocate.

Towards the end of our dinner, Duane told me about a commencement speech a friend of his had sent him, where Steve Jobs spoke to the graduates of Stanford in 2005. Duane said that Jobs spoke about his own life experiences and how they shaped his life and at the end of the speech, Steve described the back cover of the final Whole Earth Catalog, and finished his speech to those graduates, with, “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.”
Sometimes a few simple words can have great meaning. My friend Duane said the speech is one of “things you should read at least once a year to keep your perspective on life.”

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish can mean different things to people based on their own experiences, and that is fine. To me it means: Stay hungry for new knowledge and experiences, and Stay foolish by keeping a child’s curiosity and don’t let anyone tell you something cannot be done, try it anyway, touch it, feel it, smell it, taste it, experience it (Life) fully, so there will be no regrets later on.

So, Rest in Peace Steve Jobs. Thank you for sharing your life and wisdom with the World.

And to all of you, who now are reflecting on your own lives...

Stay hungry, stay foolish.

Bill Poindexter
Carfree American

The 2005 Jobs Stanford Commencement Address:

"I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first six months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.” My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out okay. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned Coke bottles for the 5-cent deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the seven miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But 10 years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 years later.

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something–your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky–I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation–the Macintosh–a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30, I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down–that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the Valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me–I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, “Toy Story,” and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up, so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying, because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now.

This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope its the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma–which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called “The Whole Earth Catalog,” which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960′s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: It was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of “The Whole Earth Catalog,” and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much."

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Presidential Speech I would like to hear

Health. Without good health you have nothing.

My fellow Americans,

Ask not what your car can do for you, but what you can do without your car.

Without good health we have nothing.

It is my contention we have become a society of self destructive behaviors, which could be our doom if we do not make some simple changes.

The primary focus of my Presidency will be to focus on the Health of the country.

First the physical and mental health of the people.
Second, the health of the environment.
Thirdly the health of the community.

The people:
The health of the population will be the largest determining factor of the health of the country. Without good health, people cannot take care of themselves, or their families. They cannot hold jobs effectively. They become dependent on health care, when in fact they should be able to take care of themselves. Mental and physical health illness, in most cases can be reversed by living a lifestyle of good nutrition, exercise, feeling of self worth from a job, and a community that recognizes them as an important part of the whole. Making some simple changes will, I promise you, achieve a healthier society. For instance, people asking themselves simple questions before they leave their home can change their thinking and health for the better, like; “Can I walk, bicycle, to my destination or do I have to take mass transit, or a combination?” or “Do I need this, or do I want this?”

Thomas Jefferson, who suffered from depression, said he felt the happiest when he walked for three hours a day around the grounds of Monticello.

The health of the environment is of paramount importance. We are the stewards of our environment and MUST take full responsibility. Too long we Americans have lived with the attitude of having choices when it comes to the environment. I am here to sternly say, we do not have a choice. For our future generations we HAVE to make changes NOW! One of the primary things we must do is limit car use. The car should be used as a last resort when it comes to transportation and travel for us to have a healthy environment. Benefits will be cleaner air, less noise, visual beauty, and a feeling of doing what is right. No one can argue if you turn on a car in a garage and close the door the room will fill with poisonous gases and you will die. Think of the planet is a big garage, and it can only handle so much of the poisons. Yes my example if childishly simple, but it proves its point.

The health of the community is necessary. We are social beings. We need interaction, self worth, neighbor support, and friends . Stronger communities will: bring better education, more jobs, stable businesses, financially stable people, happier families, cleaner environments, less crime, and better physical and mental health. Communities must become smaller not larger, and more of them. The days of the American to hop in the car and drive 20 miles, unnecessarily, to take their family to dinner, when numerous local restaurants are within walking or bicycling distance are numbered.

Neighbor helping neighbor is how this great country was founded. Communities will make America stronger as a whole.

Let us get America healthy again and show the world we are a great country. Let me also say it is important to understand we all share the planet and must get along. I believe we can live together in peace as long as we all take steps to create…no….make a healthy society by taking care of our; personal, environment, and community health.

Simple techniques like changing our thinking toward better health. Like before you leave your home you ask, can I walk or bicycle to my destination, then, or do I have to take mass transit, or maybe a combination of the three, and then do you ask: do I have to car pool or take the car. By living this way you will be promoting the above heath and making the world a better place.

Being aware of the universal law of Cause and Effect. Our actions have consequences. Good or bad.
Change is easy. You may be uncomfortable, but that is normal part of change.

Folks, one last thing. Time is not a luxury we have. People are unhealthy, the environment is sick, and communities are being disbanded by urban sprawl and overuse of cars. Waiting for the time bomb to explode is stupid, when we all have the ability, intelligence, and good sense to make the change needed.

So, let us, together, make America a healthy place to live.

Carfree American

First Choice Transportation or FCT

Teach your family and friends this:

First Choice Transportation- before you leave your home ask yourself,

"Can we walk, bike, or take mass transit to our destination?"

It is about shifting the thinking and looking at the car as a LAST CHOICE for your transportaition needs.  Can someone create a logo for this?

Monday, September 19, 2011

World Carfree Day is Thursday the 22nd

This Thursday is World Carfree Day.

What does that mean to you? At the very least, it may be a opportune time for you to think/act responsibly and bike or walk to the places you need to go that day...maybe the store, school, bike to school with your kids, walk, bike to the gym, bike to the bus stop and take the bus to work, walk to work, bike to a restaurant...well you get the message.

Give it a try, you may just get hooked. You know the benefits.

Here in the Kansas City area,  on Thursday night, I will be attending Dinner and Bikes.

Celebrate World Car Free Day on September 22nd with an evening of dinner and bikes, and BikeWalkKC. We are delighted to be sponsoring the Kansas City stop of the Dinner and Bikes Tour. Three cyclists are touring the western states to talk about bike culture and the bike economy, and to prepare a delicious vegan dinner for our guests.

Writer Elly Blue, filmmaker Joe Biel, and travelling chef Joshua Ploeg will entertain us with photos, short films, and a great meal. This is a great opportunity to learn about bike culture in other cities and meet new folks right here at home.
Dinner and Bikes Tour Stops in Kansas City
Thursday, September 22nd, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
EventPort in the Crossroads Arts District
208 West 19th Street, Kansas City, Missouri 64108
Tickets $10 advance, $15 at the door (BikeWalkKC members get 50% discount)

More info? This is a note from Elly to me...

"Hi Bill,

Thanks a lot --
Here's our description of the event:http://

And here's a very charming write-up by our hosts in Vegas:

And then here's my write-up about Vegas... maybe something KC folks can relate to?
Looking forward to meeting you,

Thanks Elly, we are looking forward to meeting you all too!

Sometimes carfree commuting involves using
multiple modes of transportation like: Bike to the bus,
take bus, then bike to work. This just adds to the
 For me, everyday is World Carfree Day. I love this life style and talk about it every chance I get.

May people like the idea, but are not sure how to try living carfree or at the very least carlite (owning a car, but using it on a limited basis).

I am here to say it is not hard at all. You all know how to walk. And I think most of you know how to ride a bike (if not call me and I will teach you immediately!). And I am sure you all know how to ride a bus or train.

All kids live carfree and love it!
 Living carfree is alot of fun. It makes every trip you take more like an adventure, or being on vacation, seriously, it is awesome! It does take more time in many cases, but it is time well spent considering the benefits to; your health, the environment, and your community.

Kids live this way, so can you.

All you need is good pair of walking shoes. A bike, and you do not need to spend alot. Bikes are very personal, I would recommend a mountain bike...or a touring bike for your carfree lifestyle. Both are made tough and can be adjusted for your urban commutes.

I use a Trek 820 mountain bike I bought 4 years ago for $289.00, I think they are $329.00 now. I have modified it over the years, and it is my bike of choice for commuting, mountain biking, gravel riding, work outs, long distance touring, well...everything. It is an excellent bike, and very strong. I have at least 20,000 miles on it and have added stronger wheels, platform pedals, tires, tire liners, rear rack, fenders, seat, bar ends, and probably replaced most of the parts on it as over the years I have worn parts out by bicycling 365 days a year. If you have a bike use it. If you do not, get something simple, tough, inexpensive. Stay away from "comfort bikes." Go with a lower end mountain or road you go with a road bike, make sure it can handle wider tires and has the ability to hold a rack. I use Arkel racks and bags to carry my gear in.

This is my friend Thad Carson who is a mailman and
entrepreneur and full time bike commuter. Here he is running
errands with his son.

So go have some fun. If you have questions ask me hear and I will respond.

Peace, Bill

If you explore this site, you will find 20+ people who live this life style, lots of good articles and resources, and check out some of our sponsors. If find value in this site and would would like to donate we would appreciate the help!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fathers letter to his 11 year old daughter

Dear Emily,                                                     Written by Emily’s dad.

Hey Sweet Pea. I am so proud of you!

That was a great letter, now…how old are you again? ;) I appreciate your passion on the subject, and don’t worry Emily, your not going to die because of the environment. You will be fine and the Earth will be too.

Your teacher is correct that there are issues we need to deal with.

I promise you, there are people working on the problem right now. Scientists, inventors, car companies, energy companies, governments, and people like you.

I am all for your idea. Bicycling to work sounds great, and I have been thinking about it a long time. I have been driving a car for transportation since I was 15 and it is hard to change that habit. I was thinking the other day how silly it was to even drive to the grocery store like we do on Saturdays to get a week worth of groceries. Your Mom and I, and you, could bike or walk there since it is only .9 miles from our home. We could carry the groceries on our bikes, or put them in back packs, and carry bags. Wow, it is that simple and it sounds like an adventure.

Regarding you bicycling to the movies with your friends we will have to ask your Mom. I will look into that more. One thing for sure Sweet Pea, you will have to wear your helmet. And I do not want you to think I do not trust you, it is other people that concern me, like people driving and texting or talking on their cell phones.

Walking to places with your friends I am fine with, we have already talked to you about that. I think that is a really good idea. I will do more of that myself and I bet Mom will too!

I will go to the library tomorrow and get bus schedules to see what our options are for that.

I am with you on this Emily, but give a little time for the change, it may not happen as fast as you like. I am not sure what your Mom will say. Your sporting events may be a issue, especially that it is turning into fall and the days are shorter. But I guess we can figure out a way to carpool you girls together. Also, in bad weather, we will use a car at night, for safety reasons, if it is day, we will take that on a day by day basis. Again, I have to think of your safety.

I am excited for you Emily. Why don’t draw up a schedule of places you have to go and how you want to get there and bring it to me and we will plan this together with Mom.



Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Childs letter to parents regarding alternate transportation

Written by Emily D. an 11 year old

Dear Mom and Dad,

I learned about the environment today at school. My teacher, Mr. Kellar, told us that the future of the Earth rest on actions of the people of the Earth. He says global warming is a real threat to our existence. He had some very impressive facts and names of scientists I have never heard of, and gave us a reading list to back up his points.

Mom, Dad, I am scared. I do not want to die, and I do not want to hurt the planet.

 One of the solutions Mr. Kellar told us about is finding alternate ways for people to transport themselves. If people stopped using fossil fuels on a “unlimited” basis, there may be a chance damage done could be reversed. I believe him.

I have heard you both talking about global warming, we have seen news reports, the Earth Day special we watched on TV, and we even have some books in the house that talk about it. I even remember about Dad saying he had a environmental science class in college that talked about it?

I am confused; since Global Warming is real why do have two cars?

And…why do we use them all the time. Why do other people do the same thing when they know that one of the major contributors of global warming is car use?

Can we change as a family? Can we use alternatives for transportation, like walking, bicycling, and buses? When we are in the car I see other people who do not use cars. I think it would be good for the environment and it would save you money. Dad, if you bicycled to work you would probably loose that “spare tire” you are always talking about and Mom if you walked to work you would not have to drive to the gym everyday to work out.
My friends are asking their parents the same questions. We understand change will not happen overnight, but we know we can make change now by; walking or riding our bikes to school, carpooling to sporting events, walking to the grocery store and restaurants, staying closer to home and enjoying the parks close to home rather than driving to places we do not need to go.

Mom and Dad I love you. I want to feel safe that the world will be around when I am your age and I want my children to be safe. I am only 11, but I understand the problem.

So tomorrow, I will be riding my bike to school, I can do that everyday. In winter when there is snow, I will walk, I can do that. When I need to buy something I will walk or ride my bike to the store. My friends and I will go to the movies on the weekends and we will walk or bike there, if it is dark when we are coming home we can carpool home if we walked. If we need to go farther, we can take a bus. And I want to bicycle and walk with you two. Will you please make changes and allow me to?

(At the parents request her identity will be kept confidential)
Please share.
The parents letter will be published next.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bicycling Across American: Profile of Eric Xu

This weekend I had the opportunity to host my first Warmshowers cyclist, Eric Xu who is bicycling from NJ all the way to Seattle, Washington! Even though Eric was only here for about 13 hours because of a Shape Note singing performance (see video) he needed to get to in Lawrence, Kansas. We had a great time hanging out learning about each other.

Eric, a Wallstreet Analyst/ Shape Note singer/ Bicycle Tourist/ Philosopher, was alot fun to host.

If you are not a host on  you may want to consider it, the experience of opening up your home to the world can be a very rewarding and rich experience.

 This first video is Eric explaining his trip and giving some tips.

If you think you may be on the route Eric is taking and might be a host you can find him at Warmshowers and at facebook

This second video is Eric explaining his use of flowers to pacify would be aggressive drivers as he crosses the United States...this a excellent cycling touring tip by Eric showing his use of ..."Flower Power!"

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Elizabeth Kiker, VP League of American Bicyclists, Car-lite Profile

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

"Elizabeth Kiker, 36 years old, Vice President of League of American Bicyclists, car-lite, Arlington, Va."

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

"I started riding my bike to school in fifth grade, started again in college, and started as an adult in 2003. I was working at an association in Fairfax, Va. I’m a terrible driver, so I took the train and bus to work every day. I noticed that my entire commute had a bike trail that I could easily see out of the train and bus windows. One day, I decided to use it. I was riding an old mountain bike, and it took me a LONG time, but I loved it. I became obsessed, encouraging colleagues to ride, meeting them at their houses in the early a.m. to show them how to ride in, and riding all year round. When I saw the job opening at the League of American Bicyclists, I wrote an impassioned letter they still tease me about. The gist was: You MUST hire me! And they did."

Please describe a typical day in your cycling life?

"With two children under two, I don’t do a lot of recreational riding anymore. I do ride 7 miles each way to work, four to five days a week, all year round (excepting the blizzards this past February!) "

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

"As a gift when my son was born, my husband and parents bought me a custom pink Waterford. I will ride it forever. "

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

"The mind boggles! There are so many answers. The sunshine is my favorite one. The freedom. The views! (I live in Arlington and commute to DC via Arlington Cemetery, the Lincoln Monument, and the White House …) The way it helps me lose my baby weight. The cost!"

What’s the worst?

"… pause … snow!"

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

"I have so many! Some are from when I went out of my way to ride … like riding to Baltimore to meet friends for lunch (50 miles each way) or riding 10 miles out of the way to meet a colleague and show him how easy it was to ride to work. I do love every commute in the summer—I always try to stop and offer help to cyclists in need. Last week I saw a guy pushing a bike and offered him a tube or air. He said no thanks, that he was close to his hotel, and I rode on. The next day, at the same place (almost) I saw another guy pushing a bike. I stopped to help and he said, “Didn’t I talk to you yesterday?” It was the same guy! He was a tourist in town and had been low on air the previous day and then had a blow-out the next day. Both days he declined my offer of help, but it was fun to chat."

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

  1. "You can do it!"
  2. "Have someone show you a good way to get to work by bicycle --- it most likely won’t be the way you drive. "
  3. "Don’t worry about all the gear --- just ride the bike you have and use a backpack, and then buy stuff later."

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

"More bicycle friendliness! More complete streets, more transit options, many, many fewer short car trips, and a lot more design for bicyclists."

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

"My dad commutes to work every day in Houston, Texas and my mom commuted before she retired. I’ve inspired at least 10 friends to start bicycle commuting, and my husband is even more dedicated to it than I am. I love spreading the word about riding to work!"

Anything else you would like to add?

"I love learning more about what bicycle advocates—people just like me, all across the country—are doing to transform their communities for bicyclists. My favorite League program is Bicycle Friendly America, where we certify communities, states, and businesses that are leading the way in bicycle friendliness. Find out more at!"

Note from Car-Free American: The folks at the League of American Bicyclists are fighting for the rights of cyclists and the education cyclists and those interested in cycling. These are the people promoting cycling on a national level. I would encourage you to take a look at their site and see all the great things they are doing for us.
Their mission: "To promote bicycling for fun, fitness and transportation and work through advocacy and education for a bicycle-friendly America."

Monday, August 1, 2011

Who are the carfree Americans and why are they so cool?

Chrissy and her daughter, Hannah
Making a difference?

"This is Bill, he is part of a new carfree movement sweeping the country." Chrissy said as she introduced me to her husband. "He writes about living carfree and how if benefits people." She explained with sincere enthusiasm.

I see Chrissy and her two kids when they bike to the store.

Her husband, less impressed, said, "cool." and went back to his bagel and kids.

She is just one of hundreds of people who I have talked to, bumped into, taken pictures of, written about, or inspired over the last few years by living carfree.

FYI there are more carfree Americans than you think! And yes, they are cool. I will tell you why.

First, you can own a car and be carfree. What? It is true, being carfree can be just a walk or bike ride to the store, or maybe a bus ride to the theater, or maybe a cab ride to get a pizza. Carfree is being in the moment, with out the use of your car. If you are lucky enough to be able to live completely without a car, you are one of the lucky few. Most of you will keep on owning a car throughout your life. Sorry to you hardcore carfree purists, but it is a fact.

So, I say to all you who at some point in your day, or week, can manage to take a carfree trip by foot, bicycle, mass transit (or other-rollerblade, electric bike, skate board, etc) you are cool.
You are making the world a healthier place.

By taking a carfree trip you are promoting:
Physical and mental health
Environmental health
Community health

I learned 11 years ago, without good health you have nothing.
We, as human beings, have a responsibility to stay healthy, keep our home/planet Earth healthy, and live in healthy communities.


Seriously, let us make this world a better and healthier place. Take the time to try living carfree at some point in your day and reap the benefits.

Loretta Henderson cycling solo...AROUND THE WORLD!
whether you are traveling the world like Loretta Henderson or bicycling to the local grocery store like Chrissy and her kids, Hannah and Cole, you can make a difference.

What is in his future?
 True we do not know how much a difference we are making, but I assure you a difference is being made.

The future:
There is a story I heard years ago about a guy who was jogging on a beach at dawn. As he approached the beach he noticed it was covered with thousand of starfish that had washed up on it from a storm the previous night.

With the sun quickly rising the starfish seemed to be doomed.

See the enormity of the situation the man thought to himself, "I feel bad, but what can I do, I am just one man and there are thousand maybe millions of starfish."

The man still decided to continue with his workout carefully trying not to squish too many of the starfish. In the distance he could see the figure of a person that seemed to running back and forth from the beach to the ocean.

As he got closer he saw a young woman, covered in sand and sweat. She was frantically gathering the starfish and throwing them as far out into the ocean as she could mange. The man could see she was passionately sobbing.

He called out to her, "what are you doing?"

She Yelled back, " I am saving the them! Help me!"

He replied, "There are thousands more, the sun is up, how can you possibly think you will make a difference and save them all?"

The young woman looked him in the eyes with a look of defiance. She reached down and picked up one starfish, and threw it in the ocean.

"Made a difference for that one!"

 The future starts with you...

           us can make a difference,

but it starts with one.



Friday, July 15, 2011

Anniversary-2 years without a car!

Parent shopping with daughter by bike
 Two years living without a car. Living in a car-centric town, this has been no easy feat in the winter in below -0f weather or now in the 100f + heat index days. But it has been very rewarding, as a matter of fact, one can say I have completely incorporated the carfree lifestyle into my existence and guess what, it works!

Everything from the profiles to the Cycling W3R Expedition are a direct result of this lifestyle.

Dogs walking human

I believe with all my being that people should live carlite or carfree whenever they get a chance. The mission holds true:

getting gas for lawn mower
 To promote the carfree/ lite lifestyle and see the health benefits: Personal, Environmental, and Community.

Here are some pictures showing carfree

Homeless guy in KS

Coyote guarding my bike

Art the committed commuter




there is soooo much freedom in
bicycling for transportation
 Peace, Bill

If you would like to share your Carfree or Carlite life with us...go for it! We would love to hear from you!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cycling W3R: Newport to Providence-Car-free trip

Rhode Island Part 1: Newport to Providence

Cycling W3R Expedition                                        
Part one the route:  Newport to Providence

I love everything about Rhode Island.

I arrived by ferry (this a short video of the crossing) to Quonset Point, RI from the Island of Martha's Vineyard. My ocean crossing, although much shorter than the French in 1780, was very choppy, causing me a bout of seasickness (What? I am from Kansas, what did you expect? ;) )

Quonset Point is a big industrial area where ships and planes were made in the past and today. Before we arrived I called Peter Rice who had previously given me advice about cycling the roads in the Newport area and had told me if I needed a ride to Newport to call him as the bridges in did not allow bicycles. Peter answered, and said he would be there shortly. I was impressed by his generosity.

Laura the owner
Once off the ferry, I decided to bike around the area while I waited for Peter.
Out of place of all the industrial building was a lone mobile restaurant called Quonset Hut. It was so out of place I had to stop and take a picture. Laura the owner came out to greet me. She was a tough, weather worn, hard working woman who bought the trailer and set up Quonset Hut in the area where she herself use to work on B-52 Bombers in the early 70s. She had many ideas how to make her business successful and was very kind to me, even giving me a free bottle of water. This was my first experience with the hospitality I would become accustomed to from the people of Rhode Island.

Peter Rice and I at the Rochambeau
Peter drove up and we headed toward the bridge on Highway 138 that crossed Narragansett Bay. Once on the bridge I understood why cyclists were not allowed. The lanes are narrow and traffic heavy. There are local buses to get across I will try on my next trip.

Once in Newport Peter took me around the town explaining to me the history of the area and showing me alternative cycling routes out of town. Pete is retired from the Navy and is originally from ND. Pete is also a member the Narragansett Bay Wheelmen. I think in all we spent three hours exploring the area and the routes.

I next headed to my home for the night, a Hostel called the William Gyles Guesthouse. The owner, Merrilee, a cyclist,  was still at her job, so we decided on meeting an hour later, then she could check me in. $35 bucks for the night! I went for a short ride exploring Newport.

I made it back to the Hostel in time for Merrilee to check me in and to meet my roommate, one from California, and another, Andy from Ireland.

Andy has been back packing around the Eastern US for one month and still had a month to go. He was heading to a place in Maine where he was going to work on a sustainable organic farm for two weeks in exchange for room and board. He found it on a site called, WWoof or World Wide opportunities on organic farms. Cool!

Newport at night!

After getting settled in and a shower, rolled into town to find WiFi and get some food. There I met a young woman, Chelsey, soliciting Blood Donations for the Red Cross. Chelsey is one of those people who can look at you in the eye and you know she has a kind soul. I let her know that I was in need of my blood as I was going on a long bike ride. She readily agreed with my choice and loaded me up with some free life savers candy.

I went back to the Hostel for a short time and then went into town with Erica, another guest,  who was a grad student from CA for a glass of wine. Seeing Newport at night is a site. Great restaurants, many people, ships on the water, history oozes from the ground here. The people are friendly.

The next morning I was up early. I think I may have had three hours sleep as the neighbors across the street form the hostel had a party till 2am-ish. I got up at 6am and made a light breakfast, studied some maps Peter left me, and wrote in my journal.

I checked out of the Hostel and rolled into town. I spent some more time exploring the town of Newport on two wheels. Bicycling is one of the best ways to see the town. Although the streets have traffic, and sometimes are narrow in town, the people are use to cyclists. There is a loop, where you ride south on Thames to Wellington, then heading toward Fort Adams, and winding your way on great roads with ocean views and then back into town passing mansions and lots of tourist waiting for their buses. There is a bike map available at all the bike shops and hotels to help guide you.

the start

  Around 9am I made my way to my start point. The Rochambeau statue on Wellington.

The Start

The morning was perfect, sunny, mid 70s, slight breeze, the smell of the ocean, seagulls speaking in turn. I made my way to the start point. I was interviewed by a local Newspaper, and then the start was at 10am. Just me and Rochambeau-the present with the past.

I would take a left here to Memorial.

 I made my way on the Cycling W3R route I had decided on after exploring three options with my local route adviser, Peter Rice. My objective was to make a safe route, staying close to the history, and finding one that would be good for most levels of cyclists. The official W3R route out of town is on Route 114, which is becomes very busy with traffic, no shoulder, not fun. The other route was going through Navy housing, with lots of turns, little views. The third, and the one I chose, went west on Wellington to Thames. Right to Narragansett. A left, rolling past some beautiful homes to Annandale. Left to Memorial Drive.
On Memorial drive I passed a gorgeous beach on my right, then veered left to Route 214 North. 214 is simple, a wide shoulder, low traffic.

USS Saratoga
  I took 214 North to 114 North. Took a right there and took my 2nd left to Gate 17 entrance of the Navel Base. Once on the Gate 17 road, I headed west to Burma Road. Coming down to Burma Road is amazing as once you crest the hill and go down the road your view is Narragansett Bay and the decommissioned Aircraft Carrier, the USS Saratoga. The Saratoga is impressive to behold, and seemed to be waiting for me to roll by in celebration of the Cycling W3R, as the theme, the past meeting the present again seemed relevant.  On a side note, according to the Cycling W3R Expedition Historian, Robert Selig, the three most significant battles of the American Revolution were; Bunker Hill, Saratoga, and Yorktown.

My view to my left heading north on Burma Rd.
Once on Burma Road, I quickly realized why so many locals recommended it to me. A well maintained two lane with little traffic and nice shoulders. I headed north and had views the bay on my left and greenery on my right. I took it to Stringham Rd. Not well marked, but a distinctive sharp right turn, I had to pull out the GPS to make sure of my location.

This made me laugh...

I took a right on Stringham, and rolled slowly uphill to 114 North. There was a Dunken Donuts on the other side of 114. Traffic on 114 was heavy. I stopped for some food and drink.

Heading toward the Mt Hope Bridge
Fuel up on a bagel and donut, I next headed North on 114. This section of the route is NOT fun, with no shoulder, high traffic,  and poor road surface. I felt vulnerable here and took my time focused on the bumpy potholed filled maze in front of me while constant prayer were being sent out to the universe for my safety as cars and trucks speeded by with little regard for my existence.

The saving grace on 114 for is the consistency of the W3R signs marking the route. It was a comfort.

Patriot's Park
Patriots Park is a memorial to the 1st Rhode Island Regiment, known as the Black Regiment. The park is located at the junction northbound of Routes 114 and 24. A flagpole commemorates the site where the Black Regiment fought off a Hessian attack, saving the American line, on August 29, 1778, during  the Battle of Rhode Island.
Luckily the poor road only lasted a few miles then I was able to turn left towards Mount Hope Bridge. And then, between Highway 24 and 114, in a very odd place there was located Patriots Park-recognizing the Black Regiment. I stopped for a quick picture, but was eager to roll north, so did not explore.

Stopping at the bottom of the bridge
taking a picture over my left shoulder.
 I got to the Mt Hope Bridge, a narrow two lane, with grates every 50 feet or so, lenght over 6,000 feet! I was glad I had wide tires. Traffic was medium, but the bridge being long, and very high, with obstacles in the way, and traffic at my back I was not able to enjoy the amazing views of the water below. Although the ride over was intense, I never felt in danger, cars were respective, as long as I kept my line, all was well.

A few minutes later, I was off it and stopped and took a picture over my left shoulder to see what I had done. Wow.

This was when I got on
the East Bay Bike Path
from Oliver St in Bristol.
 Next the road greatly improved, I stayed on 114 and rolled into the town of Bristol.  A gorgeous town, the water at my left. I slowly made my way to Oliver St. Then left to the East Bay Bicycle Path.

My choice to go into Providence was 114 or this Bike path.  I chose the bike path, although at some point I would like to explore 114 in this section. The bike path is amazing. 14.5 miles to Providence without having to get on a road. Very well maintained, it looks more like small two lane road than a bicycle path.

I meandered my way on the path, passing a young girl at a Del's lemonade stand! I have never seen this on bike paths, and am impressed!

The Bike path, gave a view of what the land looked
in 1781.
I continued past the towns of Barrington, and then Riverside. I stopped a  grocery store in Barrington which was a few feet off the bike path.

There I met a woman, Jackie, who was getting her groceries on her single speed Schwinn Stingray, and was curious about my loaded bicycle. I told her about the expedition, and we talked about the route for awhile. She gave me some advice about downtown Providence, I would soon( unknowingly) regret not taking.

First views of Providence from the East Bay
Bike Path

I made why way north to the Riverside area, and although I was getting closer to Providence, the bike path was a low stress alternative to bicycling into a big city.

  I made my way to Providence, took a left on a sidewalk (still part of the East Bay Bicycle Path), with the highway on my right, I was about to go urban! Yikes!

Stay tuned for Part two; Providence to Joy Homestead and getting lost!

Side note: On a side note, I am still fund raising. If you like what you are reading and seeing, chip in some bucks and you will get more! ;)
Peace, Bill