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.