Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How Long Can You Stay Car Free?

My bike is the first at West Easton Treatment Center
This is the perfect and most beautiful time of year to try it. A few years ago, the longest span I put together was four days. Last year, I was too fat to go more than a day at a time, and I had to use a LANTA bus to help me complete my trips. This year, I've gone the last eight days without a car. Whether it is work, a meeting, a football game or the grocer, I've been using my bike or hoofing it, and it's been a blast.

Zealots like the Coalition for Appropriate (not Alternative) Transportation's Steve Schmitt will give you all kinds of reasons for staying out of a car, but they're all bullshit.

They'll tell you it's cheaper, that every mile traveled on bike or by foot translates to a dollar less for gas and oil changes. But every dollar I save is spent on gallons of water, watermelon, bananas, and for some reason, baked beans. I've been eating lots of baked beans lately.

They'll tell you it's good for the environment, but I'm not so sure. After eating all those baked beans, I sound like a motorcycle. It's a good thing my saddle has extra padding.

They'll swear it's good for you, and will extend your lifespan by a gazillion years, and you won't get cancer and die. But it's not so good when you're an idiot like me and ride into things. This Summer, from just one minor fall, I had bruised ribs, tinnitus, and finally, sciatica. That's in addition to all the cuts and scrapes. Plus, bugs fly right into my eyes, although that happens anyway.

I've had many consultations with Michael Molovinsky, who swears he's a doctor.

He has started his own walking regimen. Bethlehem activist Al Bernotas went out and bought a bike.

They say that all the endorphins will make you a nicer person. But I'm still a miserable bastard, as evidenced by this blog.

Others will tell you that cycling is dangerous and that you'll die if you get on the road. That's nonsense, too. Most roads are wide enough to accommodate a car and a bike with ease. Most drivers, believe it or not, are very courteous. I would recommend Steve Schmitt's road safety course. I took that a few years ago and learned a lot. Just keep your car keys away from him.

They tell you it will take too long to get somewhere. It takes me about 45 minutes to get to the courthouse from Nazareth, which is not much longer than driving. Plus, I don't have to worry about finding a parking spot. They're all over the place.

The main reason I ride is because I love it. That's it.

Unlike some real hardcore troopers, I'm am unable to ride once the temperature drops. I'll try to hold on as long as I can, but here are this year's highlights.

Longest trip. - 44 miles to a Justin Simmons pig roast, where my dairy allergy prevented me from eating anything but tomatoes, pickles and baked beans.

Fastest speed. - 32.2 mph, going down a hill on Bushkill Drive.

Average speed. - 10-12 mph. I'm slow.

Weirdest ride. - Coming home in the dark last week, after a meeting in Bethlehem Township. It had poured earlier that evening. A mist blanketed the country roads, curling around my lights. A serenade of crickets, along with my own breathing, was my music. Much better than talk radio or NPR.

Scariest trip. - Last week, I rode to West Easton for the dedication of the new treatment center. I was scared to death I'd be shot for some reason.

Toughest hill. - Turning from Main Street in Freemansburg and up along the police station.

Most embarrassing moment. - Riding into a curb and doing a header on 13th Street in Easton.

Most pleasant moment. - On a hot day, I had stopped at Redner's, located next to the Palmer Bike Path. Watermelon break. As I sat there eating, a father and his young son came up on their bikes, but had no change for a bottle of water. I was down to about 13 cents myself, but still had watermelon and shared it with them. The young boy loved it. "There's nothing like watermelon on a hot day!" he proclaimed. He was right, and at that moment, all three of us were young boys.


Anonymous said...

Bernie, breaking news. McNeil is the one. It is now official.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yeah, I was going to post it, but the papers beat me.

Anonymous said...

thr Rs are laughing

Anonymous said...

Great post. I enjoy these very much.

Anonymous said...

You can make a little fun of yourself but frankly you've become an inspiration to others who need to lose weight. Saw you at a govt. meeting. Didn't recognize you.
Hats Off! Think you're great.

Anonymous said...

Also, great work lots of willpower!

McNeil will win a house seat but Ds should be ashamed. Ok it's a D seat, but union drowns are not what we need in Harrisburg.

Anonymous said...

Great post!

Anonymous said...

Car free?

Cars increase upward mobility. Always have.

The federal government should have turned around and handed out the cars from "cash to clunkers" in 2009 to low income people that had a license and could afford some insurance so they could drive to jobs or work extra shifts or overtime, have better access to medical care, food choices etc. and not have to rely on a very awkward public transportation system.

To you it's a clunker or an instrument of environmental destruction.

To somebody else it's the means to a better life.

Henry said...

The reasons CAT supports bicycle use are obviously not bullshit, by saying they are is pure spite simply because its a "liberal" organization. Good job though, your promoting cycling in your own way and logging some impressive miles.
I also agree to promote bicycling you don't have to espouse any altruistic reasons, it's every bit as much fun as when you were a kid! If people made an effort to use a bike or walk for trips that are within a reasonable distance collectively we could prevent a lot of emissions, improve health and reduce traffic fatalities. The hilly terrain of our region probably discourages many people from riding more, that and the shear number or vehicles on the road and peoples perception that cycling is dangerous.

michael molovinsky said...

@9:23, where have you been for the last twenty years? there have been programs sponsored by government grants that buy low income people cars for many years. as most such programs, they haven't been that successful. i believe locally, that alan jennings operated one about ten years ago.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Henry, and I hope this is NOT Henry Schaadt the troll,

When I poked fun at CAT, it was exactly that. Humor. Some extrmists on the left and right are really deficient in that category. Learn to laugh at yourself once in a while.

And it does not matter how good the reasons are for cycling. People will not do it unless they enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

Nice article Bernie!! You should be very proud of yourself with your weight loss. Very, very difficult to do. I know, I could stand to lose some weight & you just put your mind to it & did it.
Proud of You!!!

Anonymous said...


No grants so people can "buy" the cars which in effect became government surplus. The Cash for Clunkers program gave the government a massive inventory of vehicles it previously did not have at its disposal.

I would have preferred to see the government give the estimated 690,000 cars that went to the junkyard to people that could have used them.

I'm not debating the benefits of cycling.

I debate the premise that "car free" is the way to be. I disagree that it is.

Anonymous said...

What's CAT gonna do with their accolyte Brennan out of Harrisburg? He was another of the many public officals who have no respect for CAT but feel they must have their photo with Steve because it is what liberals do. Give Schmidt credit, however. He is a committed bike guy who won't take a ride in a car even in an ice storm.

Anonymous said...

bike riders are pussies that can't shift gears

CAT Director said...


I am pleased you are enjoying your bicycle. I quite agree with you about the "reasons" for riding a bike being bullshit. I ride bike because it is fun. Unless one enjoys riding a bike he or she can not overcome the many challenges to sustain a bicycle commuter lifestyle.

I don't get in cars because I don't like the way it feels, especially if I ride very far or often. Unless you don't like being in a car you will find it tough to stay CAR-FREE. That being said there are lots of benefits to biking for transportation and lots of things wrong with the car culture. Embracing the alternatives to owning and operating your own car is a wise choice at this time.

The picture of your bicycle shows it parked in an obsolete bike rack. These racks can easily damage aluminum alloy rims such as those on your bike, should the bike lean to one side. We recommend the removal of this type of rack. You are better off leaning the bike frame against the end of the rack at this location. CAR-FREE.ORG offers free bicycle parking consultation to help replace this type of bike rack.

Anonymous said...

Good for you. For the record, I hate cars. I have a nice one but I hate cleaning it, I hate driving it, I hate putting air in the tires, I hate all the money it eats up. If I were allowed to arrive sweaty to work, I'd do what you're doing!

Bernie O'Hare said...


That bike rack is at the new treatment center in West Easton Since most of the residents there are DUI, I suspect a large number will be riding bikes and that rack is too small in addition to being the wrong kind.

I will forward your comment to the Director of Corrections.

Bernie O'Hare said...

8:13, I load a change of clothing on my bike (you can see the rack and bag at the rear) and change around at the courthouse. I have also stored clothing in a locker that title searchers rent from the county.

Some of the trolls here complain about me using a public restroom to wash and change, but that's why they're there.

Don't think I could carry a suit on the bike.

Anonymous said...

Nice article! Glad to see you have some humor and topics others than Valley Politics. Enjoy the rest of the nice weather.

With global warming, you get at least a few weeks to a month more of good riding weather.

Anonymous said...

Nice article! Glad to see you have some humor and topics others than Valley Politics. Enjoy the rest of the nice weather.

With global warming, you get at least a few weeks to a month more of good riding weather.

Bernie O'Hare said...

There you go!

Publius said...

After moving to downtown Bethlehem, I have gone 3-weeks without using my car now.

urban_LV said...

Nice post. Congratulations, being car free is a lot harder than it sounds.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I think it would be hard year round. But this time of year, it's great. I rode to Easton today, did my think there, then cycled to Bethlehem for a ZHB, then returned to Nazareth in the dark. I love the night rides.