What Free Days (Part 2)

This place we drove (Salt Creek)
You’re really going to need coffee for this one, get it now before you start.

In Part One of What Free Days,  we talked about the (editor: ugly, fat, smelly, comfortable, dry, cheap, and easy) car in our driveway, non-subsidized transit costs, kids biking in the city, and Seattle bike infrastructure to name a few.

I’m sending a huge ‘Thank You” to all who reached out on the blog, Facebook and Twitter! (editor: it’s been nearly a year since we’ve posted anything and me, the grumpy, negative part of the team thought we’d hear crickets, if that. Instead, ya’ll came through with some great contributions. So pat yourself on the back and say: “nice job”). I’ll highlight a few comments that resonated with me:

“This is a fun-to-read highly pragmatic and honest assessment of where we are today, and as a guy who went through the 2 kids in a Bakfiets to Xtracycling to kids on their own bikes evolution and who loved every minute of it, driving when you need or want to is just fine. Thanks for saying it loud.” (Frank)

“I console myself with “best tool for the job” phrases. We are all fortunate to have options.” (Stacy)

“One day I will write a blog on the benefits of a multi-mode life. I love it all: biking. Busing, walking, occasional car ride, train. It all beats daily one person car commute alone! I’d much rather have these options. It is a luxury to have options and the people watching is hilarious!” (Charlotte)

Added bonus, we only heard from one hater who called us ‘lame’ on Twitter! Of course, the hater hides behind an anonymous Twitter handle. Of course. Anonymous  commenters get what they deserve, dismissal. I can, in good conscience, ignore them on principle. If you’re going to call me lame; face me, take off your hat and dark sunglasses, and use your name!

Back to Part 2. If you’re still with us…. aw, shucks, thanks! Read on to find out the rest of our story. Continue reading

What Free Days?


There’s a giant grey (editor: almost black, really) elephant parked in my driveway, and it’s time to talk about it. Just over two years ago, after six years in various states of carfreeandcarliteness, we ripped off our metaphoric hairshirts (editor: and said “fuck it”) and bought a very used car.  I’m (still) thrilled with our decision.

But I also understand such a disclosure could be confusing to some readers. I can hear longtime reader, ol’ Elmer in Iowa, right now (editor: we made him up):

Wait, wait… back up. I’m confused, if you have a car, why is your blog titled Car FREE Days?

Yes, this blog is titled Car Free DAYS, with the emphasis (originally, now, and always) on the DAYS part. That’s how it was from the beginning (editor: check that link. Those are some young, good looking cats!), and though we went pretty heavy into the car-free part for a while, the DAYS emphasis was always our intention.

Alrighty. I hope you’ve already had coffee. You might need it to get through this (editor: long, but very enjoyable) post. Continue reading

One Day at a Time (an Alternative to 30 Days of Biking)


April 1st is not only April Fools Day, centered around pranks and jokes and various forms of tomfoolery, it’s also the beginning of 30 Days Of Biking. According to their site, 30 Days of Biking started in 2010 as a way to encourage people to ride their bike. “We ride our bikes every day in April, no matter the weather, no matter the distance. We started in 2010, and thousands of people from around the world have joined in.” At this count 6997 people have signed up. Have you? Continue reading

Teen Bike Rejection Syndrome

Great advice: Just enjoy the #icecream (and ride your bike) #Fremont #bluebird #Seattle #everydaybiking #familybiking #getoutside #urbanbiketour #coastlife #urbancycling

Let me start by admitting two things:

  1. Of the many parenting issues I’ll likely face in my lifetime, this one is minor
  2. This issue definitely falls into the ‘first-world-problem’ category

Even though this issue seems trivial in the grand scheme of parenting woes, it’s one that Tim and I have been pondering, discussing, obsessing over and pondering some more: What does a ‘bike family’ do when their teen rejects her bike?

Continue reading

Light Up Your Bike with Battery-Powered-Holiday-Lights

a&g_DSC8655 (Large)Tree-hauling preparations started last week with a search for LED-battery-powered-holiday-bike lights. We love using these festive lights in the winter, not just to spread holiday cheer, but also for safety, they provide excellent side visibility! They come in all shapes and sizes: from stars to pine cones to super mini-bulbs. We string them through our front baskets and weave them around our rear Xtracyle Snapdecks. Drivers really appreciate a festive well-lit bike, and often stop us to compliment our high-vis-decorated bikes and cool lights. Continue reading

Eighth-Annual Xtracycle Tree Haulin! (plus retrospective)

Tree and bikes_DSC8679 (Large)This is our obligatory eighth-annual Christmas tree by bike post. Tree-hauling is old hat by now, but I thought I’d post some photos of this year’s adventure anyway. You might remember that last year our daughter hauled the tree. When we discussed who would pedal the tree home this year, I realized I’d never done it. How did I pass on all of those tree-hauling opportunities over the years? Naturally I volunteered for the task.

Continue reading

Confessions of a Bike to School Advocate

Panda enjoying the rideI think I’ve mentioned one or two (or a hundred) times over the past seven years that I’m a bike to school advocate. If you’ve been reading Car Free Days for any amount of time, you’ve most likely surmised that I’m a tiny bit passionate about encouraging kids and families to bike and walk to school.

One message I’ve repeated over the years is how easy it is to bike and walk to school. Since my first kid started pre-school in 2004, I’ve talked about the simplicity and the joy and the fun of biking to school with kids.

But lately, I’ve started to wonder about the ease of this whole bike-to-school thing.  Continue reading

REI dishonors the dead with new “Ghost Bike” brand

REI ghost bike graphic

Ghost Bike: A ghost bike, ghostcycle or WhiteCycle is a bicycle set up as a roadside memorial in a place where a cyclist has been killed or severely injured (usually by a motor vehicle).[1][2] Apart from being a memorial, it is usually intended as a reminder to passing motorists to share the road. Ghost bikes are usually junk bicycles painted white, sometimes with a placard attached, and locked to a suitable object close to the scene of the accident.

For the past few years REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc) has been on a mad tear to show they are a legit player in the urban biking business. They’ve made some good city bikes, some functional and affordable bags, rain gear and so on. They teach classes on urban riding and give money to the right bike organizations.

They look to be as they claim — legit urban riders. Continue reading

Book Review: Washington Cycling Sojourner

Walk-in (ride in) campsite at San Juan County Park

An early-years, Carfreedays family tour, camped at San Juan County Park.

edit: Book Party! Book-Release event for Washington Cycling Sojourner at Washington Bikes in Pioneer Square. 5:30pm May 1. Details & RSVP at WA Bikes. 

The  family just returned from a spring-break, car-camping trip to Yosemite National Park. While the park was beyond beautiful, the amount of time spent in the car (and in close proximity to other car campers and RVers who don’t exactly share our “don’t bring everything you own” ethos), had us longing for a another bike tour.

As you may remember, we rode the Pacific Coast Bike Route over the course of the past two summers. The big adventure was, well, adventurous, and highly recommended, but this year we’ve promised the kids we’ll stick close to home for the summer (they mentioned something about friends and beaches and lemonade stands. Hmmm….).

cycling sojournerLuckily, we’ve got loads of awesome bike touring and camping starting right outside our door and extending through out the state. In fact, there’s so much good riding here, that it’s easy to get overwhelmed with dreamy but vague potential, and fall back to the standards (our usual Mukilteo-Whidbey-Port Townsend-Bainbridge loop is always enjoyable, but getting a tad long in to the tooth). That’s why the timing of Ellee Thalheimer’s, (kickstarter funded!) new bike touring guide, Washington Cycling Sojourner is so excellent.

For just about anyone hoping to bike-tour Washington, Thalheimer’s guide is sure to contain a ride matched to your skills, interest, and available time. She even includes a route finder grid aimed at helping you choose the most appropriate tour. Continue reading

reBertha: What To Do With Our Very Large Hole

photo modified under Creative Commons. Original available on flickr from the WaDOT (http://www.flickr.com/photos/wsdot/8260834957/in/set-72157631880763139)
As you’ve probably heard, our tortured tunneling titan, Bertha “the world’s largest and most expensive tunneling machine,” hasn’t moved in more than a month.

Armchair speculation says she’s likely over budget and certainly behind schedule.

I think it’s safe to say things are a mess.  Many of us alternative transportation nerds advocates have been against this mega project debacle since the beginning.  A mere $2.8B to move some cars at roughly the same speed and efficiency as if we tore down the doomed Alaska Way Viaduct and did nothing? “Sure that sounds like a great investment (air quotes over the great),” was my reaction all along.

Tweet: Bertha's Budget Busted

Nobody official wants to speak publicly about the growing quagmire, probably because the State and the contractor, Seattle Tunnel Partners, are busy lining up their litigation teams for the lawsuit(s) of the century.

Meanwhile the same state leaders glady supporting the motor-vehicle-only tunnel also think that investing in bike and transit infrastructure is too expensive and/or too socialist. Right….

So it’s tempting (oh so tempting!) to play I-told-you-so and draft an initiative to require all State Legislators to write suitably conciliatory, daisy-scented, “I’m sorry” notes to hero tunnel obstructionist/former Mayor McGuin.

Bertha's Junk. A creative commons photo from the Washington State Department of Transportation http://www.flickr.com/photos/wsdot/11828410274/in/set-72157631880763139/lightbox/

Bertha’s Junk

As much as I’d like to see how a liberal Tim Eyeman-style effort would play out in Ephrata, we’re instead going to join the moral-high ground freshly shoveled in by Tom over at the Seattle Bike Blog. In a post Thursday morning entitled “We can do better things with our new downtown tunnel,” he’s calling for a positive spin to install on our sinking Titantic. Continue reading