Carfree cyclists also uses more buses and cabs

A few months ago I hurted my ankle badly while I was doing a physical training. I didn’t feel much pain at the moment and went back home by bike. The next morning I had a tenis ball instead of an ankle and couldn’t even touch the floor with my foot. So I had to call a cab and go straight to the hospital.

ordinary bus line in Curitiba

ordinary bus line in Curitiba

In those kinds of situations I must find alternative means of transportation since I don’t own a car. Most of the time, the bus is my option, for instance:

  • When it’s pouring down rain and I am carrying something that can not get wet.
  • If it’s too late and the distance is too great (like 25km).
  • When I have visitors who are not crazy enough to face the streets by bike (like my mother).

But sometimes it has to be a cab. Walk almost 1km to the bus stop with a bad ankle wasn’t feasible at all. Another example is the  migraine my wife occasionally has. It also requires some urgency. But when that’s not the case, she can easily bike (or even walk) a few miles.

To promote a carfree lifestyle is beneficial to public transportation.

Not only because there will be more space on the streets. But there will be actually more people using it. After I sold my car, I started to use public transit a lot more. I also get a few rides with some carsharing friends but it doesn’t happen very often and as a last resource, I can take a cab.

Someone might ask: But if you are going to spend money, why don’t you just keep the car?

Well, those situations are exceptions, and it costs me about R$40.00 a month. Very different from the R$600.00 the car used to cost me. Not to mention that I don’t need to worry about parking, washing, paying taxes and fixing the car. BesidesI get a lot of extra space in my garage to do whatever I want to.


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Still a long way to go in Buenos Aires

In my last post I tried to reflect my views as a bike commuter here in Buenos Aires. I made just a brief comment on public transport but in this post I’d like to picture the scene in a broader way.

Biking is relatively comfortable and safe in Moreno, my hometown. The situation changes if you want to cycle beyond Moreno: on working days and especially at rush hours, travelling on the train with your bikes is almost a torture as companies seem unable to realise the one and only carriage they provide for bike commuters is not enough. Yes, they only provide one carriage for bike commuters. I don’t use the train to go to work because I work in the suburbs of my hometown but lots of people do use the train to commute and it’s chaotic. Below I’ll show you a shot of a carriage for bike commuters.

The picture shown is a carriage meant for bikes in my train line. Believe it or not, this carriage is packed with bike commuters during working days. I’d like this railway company to do something for us. We need it..

Cycling in Buenos Aires

Keep on cycling! © Alex Berry

Keep on cycling! © Alex Berry

Hi friends from World Car Free,

I’m Walter, a bike commuter from Buenos Aires in Argentina. This is my first post and to be honest, I feel delighted to be able to contribute to the blog giving you my views.

How does it feel to be a bike commuter in Argentina? Feels good but the trend has not already already spread massively. I work as a teacher, leaving home at 7 and still you can see lots of bike commuters using their bikes to make it to work. In my case, I started cycling seriously early this year. Reasons? Mainly two: as I was leading a sedentary life (as many of us do in this fast society) i thought biking could make it up. As a matter of fact, after 9 months as a bike commuter I have to say the aim has been accomplished: I’ve lost 7 kilos and what’s better, just for free. The other point to consider is transport dependency: I felt a bit uneasy depending on transport timetables. So, once day I said, no more buses nor minivans. I’d rather cycle instead.

Sometimes you need a bit of enthusiasm and encouragement, especially at first. I remember that in my case it was hard indeed. During the first two weeks of my trips were a real nightmare. I felt worn-out day after day for four or five days. Then my body got used to it and here I’m.. ready to go. In my next posts I’ll share some of my views after the hard winter we have battled here in Buenos Aires.

Keep on cycling!

Walter from Argentina

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Free Transportation Program

I work for a company that has more than a thousand employees. Approximately eight hundred of them are located in two buildings in the same neighbourhood only half a mile away from each other, and both really close to a bike path.

In 2007, when I noticed that more and more of my work colleagues were interested in my commuting choice, I decided I should do something to encourage more people to bike to work.

CELEPAR bike commuters

CELEPAR bike commuters

The project started when I joined the company’s CIPA (an internal comity responsible for employee’s health and safety, compulsory to every Brasilian company). We were able to use the intranet and corporate email to help us develop educational campaigns, organise visits to different departments, and distribute flyers.  It was the first phase of the project called Survey.

Survey
Before carrying out any effective measure toward cycle mobility in the company, we designed a questionnaire to evaluate the feasibility for the company and whether or not there were people interested in it. It contained a set of closed-ended questions (e.g.: commuting distance, travelling time and costs) and open-ended questions (e.g.: pros and cons for biking, street safety). We also recorded some video interviews where the employees could speak more freely and we could gather some suggestions and critics.

All this process took almost six months. The results were promising and we were anxious to start the second phase.

Most employees support cyclists

Most employees support cyclists

Analysis
From the collected data, it was possible to acknowledge that the majority of the employees supported the project, even those who said that would continue to use their car. However, bike commuting wasn’t an appropriate choice for all those who were interested. During this phase we determined our target group and developed some strategies to encourage a more efficient use of the bicycle. It was time to ride.

Implementation
Almost one year later the program was launched. Besides the employees who spontaneously began to use the bike during the first two phases, it was time to get people to ride.

We organised bike tours with groups of more than 30 people among employees and relatives. The route was made exclusively by bicycle. It was an excellent opportunity to enforce bicycle as a valid means of transportation and address legal issues, basic bike fitting, and riding techniques.

We also started a “Ride Buddy/Mentor” program (similar to CommuteOrlando) helping people to choose the best route, fitting their bike and riding with a mentor for novice cyclists.

Follow-up
Although our study indicated that the company staff supported this mobility program, there was no incentive to maintain and expand the program from the board of directors.

Even so, there are new employees adopting the bicycle. On sunny days, more than 15 bicycles can be seen leaned against the company garage’s wall. And they aren’t always the same ones. It is good to see more and more bicycles than the measly two or three bikes parked there before the program.

The importance of the program has been recognised outside the company. Last year it was accepted in the Towards Carfree Cities Conference in Portland, USA. Unfortunately we couldn’t make it. And this year, it will be presented at the 17th National Congress of Transit and Transportation (CNTT-ANTP) held in September here in Curitiba, Brazil.

I’d like to give a special thanks to Ulrich Jager, a mobility consultant from L & J Mobility who strongly supported our project since the very beginning.

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The World Naked Bike Ride

Lima-2007

Lima- Peru 2008 by Marco Carrion

“How did you get the idea?” I think is one of the most common questions that people or reporters ask the riders during the event. The most common answer for cities that start the ride some years later is something like, “We read about it, we think that this is great and must to be done here”.

The World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) is an international clothing-optional event that protests against oil dependency and celebrates the power and individuality of our bodies. The first ride was celebrated in Zaragoza, Spain and year-by-year more cities around the world are added to the list of places with a ride. Today, there are about 75 rides around the world, taking place annually. The fact that many people around the world are demanding the same things – in the same way and on the same day (second Saturday of March to the southern hemisphere and the second Saturday of June to the northern hemisphere) – gives a special power to the protest.

London 2008 by Melvin Heng

London 2008 by Melvin Heng

The objectives of the WNBR are very similar in most cities. Here in Lima, Peru we protest against the inadequate and excessive use of motorized vehicles and demand respect for cyclists from drivers; to the state to promote bicycle as a means of transportation and for a bike-friendly city; and to inform the population about traffic culture and importance of personal action to reduce environmental pollution by encouraging bicycle use.

Nudity is a very interesting and effective form of protest – presenting our body as a chassis which shares the streets with vehicles – ensuring that we will be seen as an opposite to cars, which doesn’t normally happen when we are on the road. Nudity also draws attention to the population and the media, and shows our message to the rest of the world. In Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2008 police arrested participants of the WNBR and started violent actions against the riders, and put a stop to the ride. The media showed these events, and for a while, the society was in dispute about why nudity is wrong and how the position of the cyclist in the city obligates them to protest.

This protest is clothing-optional – a “Bare As You Dare” dress code – which means that aside from nudity, many people also wear costumes, body paint, as well as bring banners to express their feelings. The important point is to make the event as a creative and unusual as possible in order to call attention to the population.

Sao Paulo 09 - Luna Rosa

Sao Paulo 2009 by Luna Rosa

Some of you must be asking now, what about the police? Well, that is a different issue in each city. Mexico City had no problem with police who supports the ride because the nudity was their way to protest. In London in 2008, the police stopped the ride at one point, but after some discussions they allowed the ride to finish. In Lima, the first WNBR was something very improvised (with 15 riders, and just 2 naked), and the district security and the police stopped it. However, after some questions at the police station including “is it true that you were totally naked”, which I answered, “no it isn’t, I had helmet, socks and shoes”, we were released. In years since, Lima has had many more riders and the police now support us. So what’s the secret? It’s the same as many cities: big number of riders and media attention. In Sao Paulo in 2009, the secret was to get naked just after fooling the police by dispersing and later joining at a pre-established point.

If you want to participate or organise a WNBR in your city there is lots of information on the Internet: almost all the rides are listed on the WNBR page (in Spanish at Ciclonudista.net), and this site includes documentary “Indecent Exposure to Cars” by Conrad Schmidt and documentary of the WNRB in London by High Altitude Films.

So pay attention to the WNBR’s happening this year in many cities and countries across North America and Europe, as well as the southern hemisphere rides which take place in Australia, Brazil, New Zealand and Peru.

Octavio Zegarra Lazarte

Lima, Peru

Lima 2007

Lima 2008 by Marco Carrion

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