Category Archives: Human Powered Politics

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

Streets are for People! Kids at Play in the UK

I love this video from Playing Out! (Thanks to Sarah Goodyear for sharing it along with her insightful post). Continue reading

Is “Liking” Riding & Walking Good Enough?

2012 Bike to School DayThis week everyone is talking about the Danish study linking walking and biking to school with better concentration.  Kids + walking/biking + education = hot topic, right?

The story has legs and is making the rounds on Twitter,  Facebook, blogs, and news outlets. Everywhere we click (at least in our admittedly bike- & walk-centric world), we see a link to the study.

You’ve seen it, haven’t you?

Like many of you, we get excited about these articles and want to pass the on to our network of friends.

Click! Like! Share! +1!

The resulting flurry of retweets and likes is a good thing, isn’t it? “Hey look here’s a great story. Let’s share it with our friends!” We click and make a difference. And then …. nothing.

For all their worth so many of these stories fade quickly, replaced with the next alt-transpo buzz (like … “e-bikes are coming and they are going to change everything!”). Continue reading

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Action is Afoot (and a-Bicycle, for that matter)

(edit:I’ve been told that a shared definition of a Neighborhood Greenway would be helpful for some readers. We’re working toward  our “ideal vision” but in the meantime check out the “What is a neighborhood Greenway” section in this post by Sally Bagshaw for the basics. -Tim)

The Carfreedays family is jumping into the hotbed of Seattle Greenways grass-roots activism and joining up with our neighbors in NE Seattle on the NE Greenways project!

Greenways fit with the kind of riding we do (parent and kid-powered transportation), and c0uld really be the key resource for making it safer and easier for kids all over this city to skip the minivan and ride bikes or walk to school!

Bike Train to Bryant ElementaryWe don’t claim to be Greenways experts but we have some strong feelings, nonetheless. We’ve been riding around Seattle for longer than we’d like to admit. We know this city pretty well. We know the terrain and the people and the baggage that comes with both. And we’ve been avidly riding the streets of PDX on visits for the past five years or so. We aren’t Stumptown natives by any stretch, but we have more than a passing familiarity of what it feels like to ride the Green Streets of our fair neighbor. Continue reading

I Joined the 2 Mile Challenge. How about you?

Clif Bar is once again sponsoring the 2 mile challenge.

To highlight a commitment to bike advocacy and the fight against climate change, CLIF BAR will award $100,000 in grants to support nonprofit organizations helping to lead the way. We’ve assigned each organization to a 2 Mile Challenge team: Red, Gold and Blue. All you have to do is register, pick your team and start pedaling your bike to earn points and help decide where the grants go.

Join a team today and start logging miles! I’m cfdanne and I joined the Red Team benefiting  Safe Routes to Schools. Do you have a challenge for me?

 - Anne

Promoting Walk – Bike – Ride, in the Seattle Style

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn unveiled a multi-year Walk, Bike, Ride campaign yesterday at the Beacon Hill light rail station. Initial reaction locally was mostly lukewarm, with many observers pointing to the plan’s lack of funding as a major obstacle to success.

Paul Andrews of Bike Intelligencer summed up the announcement and the campaign eloquently with his post Walk, Bike, Ride, yes. Spend? Um, err….”

Where’s the money, Lebowski?

The opening line from “The Big Lebowski” kept rolling through my mind as Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, King County Council member Larry Phillips and a supporting cast of street activists rolled out a new “Walk Bike Ride” campaign at the Beacon Hill light rail station this afternoon.

Andrews is a seasoned newspaperman and professional writer. And it shows. In contrast to many bloggers (yes, bike bloggers, too. This one included), Andrews can really write. In a, concise post, he covers both the good of the plan (The mayor, who biked to the press conference, wants to encourage a city-wide shift away from driving), as well as the bad (uh, how are we going to fund said shift)?

It’s worth popping over to Bike Intelligencer and getting the full poop.  But while you are here, you might as well know that The Car Free Days’ take on  the plan is a qualified  “Bravo.”

Sure, presenting the plan in tandem with a big-ass bucket of money would have been nice, but we’re reasonably happy with the overall message.  If we can instill the city’s collective mind with the idea that “bicycling is a normal option for normal people,” we’re on our way to change. Continue reading

The Great Holiday Family Bike Vs. Bus Challenge

Bus Vs Bike Challenge 2009

Victory! Bikes Rule

Inspired by Streetfilms Bike Vs Car Vs Transit, the Car Free Days family took a challenge of their own:  Bike Vs. Bus from our house in Ravenna to Westlake Park in downtown Seattle for a little holiday in the big city action.

The event:

A door-to-door speed test pitting Tim’s Xtracycle against Anne and 2 kids on foot to the bus stop, then on the bus to Westlake Park. Our departure times and routes were the same, but the outcome would be different Continue reading

Ideas for Seattle

Seattle Skyline from jarnott at Flickr

It must be a lot of pressure to take the helm of one of the world’s smartest cities.

Car Free Days has high hopes that Mayor-Elect Mike McGinn will continue to listen to the citizens of Seattle while taking Seattle to the next level.

We have a feeling it’s going to be a little harder to connect with the citizens of Seattle as mayor than it was as candidate. As candidate he just had to listen. As mayor he has to listen, and then act in a way that pleases everyone. The pressure of trying to make everyone happy is enough to make a mayor wall themselves off behind grumpy power-broker staffers (Nichols) or crawl into a hole (Schell).

Still, being the optimists we are, we’re willing to look for positive signs that the new mayor will keep lines of communication open, such as his recent (and apparently ongoing) series of town hall forums. We’re also pretty stoked about the new Ideas for Seattle website. Continue reading

No Imact Man? Is Moderation a More Sustainable Message

I just finished reading  No Impact Man. On loan from the library, it languished on my nightstand for two weeks before I decided to read it. Even with the due date looming, I still picked it up and put it down several times before finally struggling to the finish.

Why did I have such a hard time with this book?

It started with the title, No Impact Man. No Impact? Really? Is that possible in our modern society? Is No and Never just  too extreme?

I’m idealistic by nature. I’m all for changing my habits to benefit the planet and live more sustainably. I long for the simplicity of my youth and wish my kids could have an equally carefree childhood. Riding a banana seat bike down the middle of the street, helmet-less and barefoot and without a care in the world—that’s livin’. Tim and I are doing our best to raise our family with simple ideals in mind. But we know that all or nothing is not realistic these days, if for no other reason than it being too tough a message for most people to  accept.

Wouldn’t we being doing more good if we got people to embrace a sustainable moderation message?

I know book titles (and blog titles for that matter) must be catchy to entice people to buy/read them. Shock sells. And people are probably buying the book because they are intrigued by No Impact. “Somewhat Less of an Impact” isn’t as exciting. Why else would Colin’s ass cleaning routine (some sort of secret routine devoid of toilet paper) be the question most interviewers asked him over the course of his project?  Maybe people want to read about extremes.

Fine, but I’m pretty sure most people don’t want to live that way. Continue reading

Change your World, a night with Alex Steffen

Unlocking at Town HallA few weeks ago Tim and I attended a highly inspiring talk by Alex Steffen at Town Hall.

We had hoped to go with  Julian of Totcycle (family bike folks represent!), but that fell through. For Julian and others who couldn’t make it, check out  a few of these to get a flavor. Alex is also the keynote speaker at three of the major events during the Copenhagen summit, so if you are in the neighborhood…

The entire evening was magical: introduction by mayor-elect Mike McGinn in his first post-election appearance,  the inspiring and motivating talk by Alex, yummy beer in eco keg cups from Fremont Brewing, followed by hop-lubricated conversation with like-minded Seattleites interested in changing the city. Plus all of this bookended with rides to and from downtown with my favorite cycling buddy. Town Hall Seattle

We left Town Hall filled with hope for positive changes in Seattle. We all have a lot of work ahead of us if we want to grow Seattle into a dense sustainable city designed with people in mind.

How are we going to do this? Continue reading