Sunday, February 27, 2011

Six myths of bicycling for transportation

Helen McConnell- see her profile
Six myths of bicycling for transportation by Adam Voiland, US News and World Report

(Every picture is of a real life bike commuter, just click the link below the picture for some great advice frm people who live the life.)
Biking is a reliable, safe, fun, and cheap way to get around—and it happens to be good exercise, too. Still, myths about bicycle commuting persist. Here are six I’ve noticed over the years; feel free to add your own in the comments section.

1. It’s too dangerous. Yes, there’s real risk associated with bicycling. Bikers do crash and get hit by cars. But how dangerous is biking in comparison with other forms of transportation and with our perception of the risk? A lot less than you might think.

see Kat's cafree profile
 Consider the calculations of a company that performs safety and failure testing, previously called the Failure Group and now known as Exponent. The company looked at a variety of activities and determined that the number of fatalities per million hours of exposure was 0.26 for biking, 0.47 for driving, 1.53 for living (all causes of death), and 8.80 for motorcycling. In other words, they found that the risks of biking were about half that associated with driving and a sixth of that associated simply with being alive.

Still, that may seem a little hard to believe, and, as someone who spends a lot of time looking at statistics, I know how easily number crunchers can accidentally overestimate or underestimate a health risk. (This website, created by bicycle advocate Ken Kifer, has a detailed look at the incomplete and uncertain nature of bicycle safety statistics. And this blogger, posting on Grist, a website that features environmental news and commentary, offers another perspective on the Exponent stats).

see Mia's carfree profile
 So, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that the Failure Associates study is an underestimation and consider another thorough report that measures the risks using a slightly different yardstick—the number of fatalities per billions of kilometers traveled rather than per hour of exposure. The Rutgers University researchers who completed this study concluded that, per kilometer traveled, bicycling fatalities are 11 times as high as car occupant fatalities. Seems pretty grim for biking until you look at what the same study found about walking. Pedestrian fatalities per kilometer traveled were 36 times as high as driving fatalities, suggesting that walking is more than three times as dangerous as biking.

That said, there’s still more that we bikers can do to take responsibility for our safety. A disturbing 24 percent of fatal bike accidents involve an intoxicated rider, according to the National Center for Statistics and Analysis. And fatalities aside, research shows that bikers get into many minor accidents that could be prevented. Numerous studies have shown that the failure to wear lights at night or a helmet significantly increases a biker’s risk. And, until more bike infrastructure is built (and it should be as it improves biker safety, too) bikers have to behave like cars when we’re in heavy traffic—which means that, like cars, we can’t ignore the rules of the road. Finally, newer riders have to be especially careful about drivers opening doors (you’ll get clipped) and making turns (they can’t always see you), and about riding on the sidewalks (you’ll get hit by cars exiting or entering driveways).

see Tammy's carfree profile
 The bottom line: It’s not that biking is without risk, but some perspective is in order, especially when you start to factor in the many health benefits that biking provide.

2. It’s too far. The ride might take too long or take too much out of you if you live more than, say, 10 miles from work. But consider ways to expand your potential range. Many commuters, for example, use folding bikes so they can go partway on a commuter train (Swissbike uses technology originally designed for paratroopers to make the Hummer of folding bikes). Within city limits, many municipalities are now allowing bikes on buses or subway cars, too.

see Clarence's carfree profile
 3. I'll need an expensive bike. Not true. You should be able to get a new or used bike suitable for basic commuting for less than $500. Find a good, local bike store with a knowledgeable staff (not, in other words, one of the big-box stores), explain the terrain and length of commute you’re considering, and they'll help you choose the appropriate frame and number of gears you’ll need. In fact, Eric Doyne of Shimano’s public relations team tells me that “lifestyle” bikes—designed for everyday, casual riders as opposed to the high-performance racing or mountain bikes designed for enthusiasts—are huge growth areas for the bike industry right now.

If you’re just starting out, you may want to look for a functional, commuter bike that has fenders to protect your clothes, a kickstand, and a comfortable seat. And, if you’re really looking for a relaxed ride, take a look at the new class of “coasting” bikes that are designed to reconnect people with carefree memories of biking as a kid. They feature pedal brakes—called coaster brakes—instead of hand brakes and an automatic shifter, and while they’re not designed for speed, they’re a great way to get reacquainted with the saddle, says Doyne.

see Darren's carfree profile
 4. It's impossible to carry the stuff I need. If this is what you think, you’re toting way more than the average person to work or you don’t have the right bag or features on your bike. A good basket or touring panniers will mean you can easily carry a computer, change of clothes, lunch, a few books, a slew of folders, and whatever other gadgets you regularly carry. Take a look at this bike and this pannier bag set if you’re looking for inspiration.

5. There’s nowhere to shower. Jeff Peel of the League of American Bicyclists says that many people do worry about this, but that there are numerous alternatives beyond simply showing up at the office smelly and sweaty. First, check to make sure that your building doesn’t have a shower somewhere. Mine does. If it doesn’t, check nearby gyms or fitness clubs. Many offer shower-only memberships for bike or running commuters. If you’re still striking out, Peel says, it’s amazing how far you can get with a sponge bath in a regular bathroom. Baby wipes work like a charm.

Andy Cline-Carfree profile
 6. Biking will make me impotent. This is a charge that has circulated since the late 1990s, and there’s a kernel of truth to it. There is evidence that serious bike riders can experience temporary and even long-lasting erectile dysfunction if they log lots of hours on a racing seat that doesn’t fit properly. But there are now plenty of seats like this one with ergonomically designed cutaway grooves that take the pressure off the key arteries and nerves. And if you really want to play it safe, there are noseless saddles, too. As long as your saddle fits correctly and you don’t ride as much as somebody training for the Tour de France, biking is more apt to reduce your odds of erectile dysfunction than raise them, since the exercise will help keep cardiovascular disease—a major cause of erectile dysfunction—at bay.

What are your thoughts? What myths are you aware of?

If  you like this you may like:

Bike Commuting 101-The Bare Necessities at EcoVelo

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

First year highlights, pictures, and stats

These helmets were donated with the help of carfree American
by the Brain Injury Foundation
 Carfree American- the first year                   

CFA Blog views last month about 2,456 +
CFA Facebook views last month about 11,000+

There are about 300 fans signed up on the blog and Facebook page

People from all over the planet are looking at the sight –the top viewers are United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, Australia, Poland, South Korea, India, Russia, France, Argentina, Romania, and Portugal.

Top three viewed posts

People interviewed for Carfree American-all either carfree or carlite and all advocates for alterative transportation.

1. Mike Reiman-Retired musician

Mike Reiman
2. Ami Lamb-Geologist

3. James Osborne-blogger

4. Mia Birk- author, President of Alta Planning and Design, adjunct Professor
5. Abby-Lawyer in KC

6. Kat Marriner-Graphic Designer and travels world with husband Willie Weir

7. Max Poletto-cycling advocate

8. Elizabeth Kiker-VP of League of American Bicyclists

9. Julie VanMater-Graphic Designer

Andy Cline

10. Helen McConnell-Food and Beverage Manager

11. Brent Hugh-Director of the Missouri Bicycle Federation

12. Andy Cline- Professor of Journalism

13. Kelly Benjamin-Pro Cyclist

14. Bob- White collar gig

15. Darren Alff-Traveler and Online biz owner for bike touring

16. Clarence Eckerson, Jr-Director of Video Production for Streetfilms

17. Eric Rogers-Web Developer and transportation advocate

Tammy Strobel
18. Noah Dunker-blogger

19. Keith Gates-Systems Analyst, blogger

20. Tammy Strobel-blogger, author, consultant

21. Evan P. Schneider- Editor, Boneshaker: A Bicycling Almanac

22. Laurie Chipman-Illustrator and graphic designer

 Guests posts:
Tammy Strobel-Writer and photgrapher

Corinna West-Writer, speaker, poet, photographer, mental health advocate.

Tamia Nelson-Writer and photographer

I learned a lot this year and I am thankful for the experience. I hope that people have enjoyed and found the site useful.

Thanks to people who helped and encouraged me along the way.

The streets of Kansas City
Special thanks to Randy Rasa of the website for his advice, friendship, and promotion of the site.

Thanks to Allan at for their advice on blogging and writing.

Thanks to people who comment on the Facebook page on a regular basis!/carfreeAmerican I really appreciate it-Don, Helen, Caroline, Rui, Aaron, Tim, Zeke, and all the rest!

Thanks to other sites or people who promote the site. Thank you for your help!

Good health and cleaner environment

The Future?
I have some cool projects planned will be announcing in the next few weeks, and I will be on the lookout for people who have stories to share with you all.

If you have any thoughts or comments about the blog or FB page I would love to hear them.

Logo Designer:

One last thanks to Jeanne Barnhill for the carfree American logo design, she did it pro bono for me and I really appreciate her help!!! Here is her email address is you would like some design work done and she can be found on Facebook too.

Thank you all!

Peace, Bill

The original first post one year ago today

 This is the first post I did on 2/11/10 and I still stand by the statement 100%:

walking to work
 To be clear, it is not that I hate cars, it is just that I feel better when they are not around.

I will not own another car until they come out with one that does not use Gas and one we can afford. I was told today by an auto industry insider( a sister in law of a top executive of a major auto company) that they have a Water based fuel engine, but cannot figure out how to make money from it. Wankers.

I have been carfree since June of '09. This is my second time carfree, first time was from 2001 to 2004. I then became carlite from 2004 until June of 2009.

I do believe the world would be a better place if everybody walked, used bicycles, and used mass transit for transportation. I am not going to try to sell you that idea, even a hamster knows the benefits of wheels and walking.

I am going tell you what it is like to be and feel a carfree American.

my preferred mode of transportation- the bicycle
 Generally cars and Americans go together like baseball and hot dogs, but carfree and American
that is sort of a oxymoron.

I know, if I lived in a big city or college town being carfree would not be a big deal .

I live in a suburb of Kansas City where being carfree is a oddity.  Few bike lanes, crap sidewalks, no/ or little public transportation.

I am alone on the streets and sidewalks most of the time. Alone in my carfree lifestyle, alone in walking and cycling for transportation. I am to most people an oddity, but I feel strong and healthy.

I am a carfree American. Join us in the carlite/ carfree lifestyle.

2/08/11 note: Thank you for taking the time to read, share, and be aware of Carfree American.

The highlights of the blog will be posted this afternoon,  and you will have a chance to meet some other people who choose to live a life where they use alternate transportation for most or all of their needs and for different reasons. Peace!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Vanessa's story-no helmet

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A woman on a bicycle was struck by a truck near the Country Club Plaza on Tuesday morning.

Witnesses told police the woman on the bike had the right of way on the busy street near West 46th Terrace and J.C. Nichols Parkway.
She was pedaling north on J.C. Nicols Parkway when a truck travelling south made a left turn and struck her.
Witnesses said she was hurt badly but looked conscious when medics took her by ambulance to an area hospital.

"One year ago today(September 16th, 2008), I was in a bicycle accident during my bike ride to work (as I mentioned in my previous post). I was riding my bike 0.9 miles from my apartment to work when a couple in their 70's made a left turn in front of me with their Chevy Silverado pickup. I hit the truck broadside, with my head hitting the passenger side window. I then hit the pavement and was briefly unconscious. When the ambulance arrived they noted finding me in a small pool of blood, I was intermittently agitated and confused with a Glasgow coma scale of 14 (whatever that means)."

"I don't recall the accident or the ambulance arriving to take me to the hospital (which was less than half a mile away) but I do remember lying on the emergency room table as my clothes were cut off of me and a nurse talked to me. She asked me general head trauma questions, like "Do you know what year it is?" and "Do you know who the President is?" I suffered from a fractured skull with a small amount of brain hemorrhaging. I couldn't move on the emergency room table, and I remember having a really difficult time answering the nurse's questions. I was able to answer them correctly, and to my amazement even rattle off the phone number to my mother's work so the hospital could notify her of the accident. X-rays showed I had broken my jaw and right clavicle and fractured my left clavicle. I was also suffering from a bad case of double vision, whirling vertigo (a.k.a. room spins) and was temporarily paralyzed on the left side of my face."

"I always wear a helmet now.....even a short ride can go horribly wrong and change your life forever."
Read the rest of Vanessa's amazing story on her blog and find out more about her recovery and some of the positive things that came form the experience back in 2008.
I talked to Vanessa a couple of weeks ago to ask her if I could share her story, and if, after 2 1/2 years after the accident if she still wears a helmet?
She said, "Of course you can share my story - yes I still wear a helmet all the time. :) "

Vanessa and her husband Brian

Wear a helmet or not?
I have heard all the arguements for and against. I have found personally it comes down to two things: personal choice for adults, and responsible adults teaching their children bicycle safety. I personally always wear a helmet and always will.
Vanessa's story speaks for itself so I will end this post here.
Let me know your thoughts.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

First Anniverary is Feb. 8th for carfree American

In celebration, Carfree American is asking all people of the world to come together for one day of carfree awareness.

We are calling Feb 8th

Carfree American Day
Walk, bicycle, or use mass trasit for transportation on Feb 8th!

The benefits of a carfree/ carlite lifestyle are: good health, cleaner environment, and better sense of community. And save some money.

If you live carfree for 21 days (if you do anything for 21 days it becomes a habit), and find out what thousands of people are so excited about.

More posts up to and on the 9th are coming!


Here is the facebook event page post:

The carfree American blog is having its first anniversary on Feb 8th. In celebration we are asking followers, friends, and fellow carfree/carlite folk to share in, share, and promote this event.

Winter is usually not associated with carfree, but thousands of us still live the lifestyle even in frigid temps. With all the unrest in the world, maybe a little exercise is what people need to settle their differences peacefully.

So on the 8th-please walk, bike, ski, snow shoe, sled, ice skate, surf, crawl, take mass transit, or whatever is your favorite way to travel in winter when you are going to work, or the store, or roaming around your community.

Carfree American is about promoting: better health, cleaner environment, and community well-being.

We are committed to pormote this lifestyle 365 days a year.

Thanks and Peace!