Apr 12, 2010

Living Carfree - So far, Soooooo Good!

Our family has now been carfree for just over 4 months now, and I am happy to report that life is just fine.  I had posted here that I was a little concerned about how I would be able to live in this car crazy town without a vehicle, especially in winter, and thankfully there has been no problems at all adjusting to life without an automobile.

The first few weeks of auto-less-ness were more about readjusting old habits and long established ways of doing things (ran out of milk, jump in car and head to store) that you don't normally think much about.  However, after that pretty short "break-in period", life is pretty much the same but with a nice added bonus - more money in my bank account!  Actually, there are a few more bonuses...

- better fitness from riding every single day
- more energy from the extra exercise
- better sleep - probably because of the extra work required to ride everyday
- spending less money overall
- no parking tickets
- stress free commutes
- wildlife sightings (deer, owls, eagles, etc)
- fun times with my son riding around the city

...and on and on the list could go.

Since we opened BikeBike, I have had many conversations with customers about my carfree lifestyle and the responses and conversations have been interesting and instructive.  Interesting because sometimes people have questions for me about how our life is different/same, how we get around through the winter, and how our life had changed.  Instructive because it has become really obvious that people are really connected/defined by car to their lives.  An example - I was mentioning to a customer that I believe that getting around Calgary by bike is actually pretty easy - we have a big pathway network but we also have a lot of quiet residential roads that you can use to get almost anywhere in the city.  The customer was roundly shocked by that statement and disagreed with this assessment and thought that bicycling here was dangerous and that I was crazy to ride on the roadways.  This conversation made me realize a few things...

- many are not aware of their rights to ride their bikes on the roads and how to do it safely
- many have no idea how to get around the city without using the pathways
- many don't realize how easy getting around Calgary by bicycle really is

I guess we will just need to continue these conversations with our customers and do our best to talk to them about riding bikes in the city.  The more people that choose to cycle on the roads, the more the City of Calgary will have to make proper accomodations for us.

Don't get me started on what Calgary needs to do to make this easier!

Personally, I believe that the time is coming when people will be forced to use bikes for more than just sport and I look forward to that time when bicycling becomes as common place as driving.

Click here for the Alberta Highway Traffic Act - Part 2, Division 4 for information on your rights to the roadway.  Here is one of the most important statements in the act -

"Unless the context otherwise requires, a person who is operating a cycle on a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the duties of a person driving a motor vehicle under Part 1 and this Part and Division 2 of Part 5 of the Act."

We are going to have spoke cards made that have the traffic act on one side and "Bikes Belong on our Roads" on the opposite side.  Pop by the shop and pick one up.