Friday, September 28, 2007

10 Years of Car-Freedom

It's a momentous occasion for the Bike Nazi. As of the end of September, it's been more than ten years since I commuted to work - even once - in a car.

1985 is my real turnabout date. That's when I decided to start using a bicycle for most of my local transportation needs. But I still drove the car, ever so occasionally. (And continue to drive the car even now, when the occasion merits it - like transporting big heavy stuff, family outings, etc. But certainly not when I'm transporting myself and a sack lunch to the office.)

In December 1996, I bought a shiny new motorcycle.

I knew I'd be riding it to work occasionally, and decided to start a "commute log" in January 1997 to keep track of my transportation choices. A column for the bike... for the bus... car... motorcycle. The last entry for car was in September '97. (I drove the car twice in 1997 - that was pretty typical of the 12 years preceding. But as time went on, it became somewhat of an obsession to not drive the car.)

"But how about that motorcycle, Bike Nazi?" you ask.

Indeed, that first year I drove it quite a few times... maybe once a week when the weather was nice.

But it tapered off. I found myself looking for a place to park, and worrying that it might be tampered with. I was paying for gas, maintenance, insurance, etc. But mostly, I was stuck in the same traffic on the motorcycle, as I was in the car. I hate being stuck in traffic!

Who needs the stress?

I've been 100% bicycle-commuter for the last 2 years. On the 105-degree days, and the 5-degree days. On beautiful, sunshiny perfect days, and on wet, windy, miserable days. Occasionally breaking a path through newfallen snow. I've fixed quite a few flat tires. I've crashed a couple times. There have been days that I was feeling sick, and just looking forward to being at my destination. There have been days when I had a really bad attitude, about riding my bike and pretty much everything else. But there have been so many more days when that bike ride has given me a mainline-fix of joy and enthusiasm. I've communed with nature in a way that is simply impossible in a car. WOW! I'd NEVER give it up! (I also figure I save AT LEAST $700 per year, in real wallet dollars. Probably closer to $2500 per year, depending on how you figure.)

I'm an unlikely bike commuter. A middle-age fat guy. If I stood in a lineup with 10 other randomly-selected citizens, and people had to pick out the bike weenie, I'd prolly not get picked very often. (Unless we're all wearing shorts; I don't shave my legs, but 23 years and 117,000 miles of bicycling has toned my leg muscles.) The point is - ANYBODY can choose to bike commute, not just young, athletic-types.

Ride on, Bike Nazi! (I'll check back with you in another 10 years... no point in stopping now!)


Anonymous said...

Congrats on an accomplishment of that magnitude.

Lets hear details- how many bikes, derailers, tires, bar tape, etc....does it take to go 117,000 miles.

Anonymous said...

Congrats, indeed! I'm working on my second year of car-free-ness now, and you're an inspiration and encouragement to me on those days when, like you, I find it hard to keep peddling.

Apertome said...

Wow, that is truly awesome. Congratulations!

db said...

That's an amazing accomplishment. Congrats, and wishing you many more to come.

Ben said...

good work, brah.