People always want to know why I’m biking across South America. Why bike, they ask, when I could arrive watching movies on air-conditioned buses? My answer—“biking is more interesting”—never smooths their confusion, and sometimes makes them suspect my real motives. (One man joked that I must be an escaped convict, to which I replied I’d be the slowest, dumbest fugitive ever. Satisfied, he let me sleep in his spare bedroom). My reason for this trip continues to be childishly simple: I wanted a different, more meaningful, fun travel experience. And my 1,323.64 miles have been all that and more.
But this bike trip has become more than just fun, it’s become a lifestyle, a way of life that contributes to my overall happiness and causes harm to no one. It now seems obvious, like finding lost sunglasses on your head, that biking is a valid solution to many (not all) of the environmental and transportation issues that plague big cities. After riding through landscapes whose natural beauty photography cannot capture, silent forests and treeless summits, jungles and deserts, some cities in turn seem like mangled heaps of concrete, completely unnatural and unnecessarily cluttered, or worse, expanding without limits. This is especially true of larger cities, where commercial centers are concentrated, and cars add to the chaos with their morning and evening commutes. No doubt South American traffic is a sight to see (and hear), but I’ve also witnessed bumper-to-bumper traffic in Los Angeles, New York, Dallas, Denver, Phoenix, and many other U.S. cities. It’s a global problem that could eventually make our lives unbearable and our air unbreatheable. Mexico City, for example, has one of the highest lung cancer rates in the world and many Chinese cities are following trend as they exchange their traditional bikes for Wuling Sunshines.
Thankfully, every second public transportation moves millions, keeping perhaps just as many cars off the road. Subway, bus via, train, commuter lane, and carpooling projects are being realized from equal parts practicality and necessity.
However, the most simple, cost-effective, and efficient transportation—the bike—still has not been given serious consideration in many parts of the world. Here is a comical perspective why not. There is real potential to improve the appearance and functionality of our cities, public health, and perhaps, maybe, just a little, the global warming situation by increasing bike use, but attitude and limited infrastructure keep this idea an idea.
If you’d ever considered joining the bike side, the September 22nd Carfree Day may be a good time to dust off your Schwinn. Or perhaps reevaluate your lifestyle. Pedal to work, carpool, or read a book on the bus. You’ll be surprised how good you feel when you arrive to work. Below I’ve cut-and-pasted some information from the World Carfree Day website. You can check the Wiki Calendar to see if there is an event in your city.
World Carfree Day 2009
Every September 22, people from around the world get together in the streets, intersections, and neighbourhood blocks to remind the world that we don’t have to accept our car-dominated society.
But we do not want just one day of celebration and then a return to “normal” life. When people get out of their cars, they should stay out of their cars. It is up to us, it is up to our cities, and our governments to help create permanent change to benefit pedestrians, cyclists, and other people who do not drive cars.
Let World Carfree Day be a showcase for just how our cities might look like, feel like, and sound like without cars…365 days a year.
As the climate heats up, World Carfree Day is the perfect time to take the heat off the planet, and put it on city planners and politicians to give priority to cycling, walking and public transport, instead of to the automobile.
So take the time, browse the links and resources provided, and join in on the celebrations!
World Carfree Day Has Gone Wiki!
Our promotion of World Carfree Day events on September 22 online has taken a natural step in evolution: wiki. The WCN staff in Prague cannot possibly update online all the countless festivities taking place from Colombia to China, so don’t hesitate to help us make this a comprehensive site! It’s really simple to input events.
The idea behind the wiki page: to provide a list of activities surrounding World Carfree Day, listed in a geographic order. This simple, yet useful wiki page is to be seen as an addition to what we have on offer on this page – action ideas, media advice and more.
In case you are not that familiar with wikis: they are incredibly simple – you will only need 5 or 10 minutes to register your event, and then the whole world can know! We have created a simple formula you can use, and you only need to put the most essential details, any links to further information or contacting methods, and presto!
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to let us know. Drop an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
We hope to see you on the streets!
For more information click World Carfree Day 2009