Carless in Tulsa

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A young couple, friends of ours from church, decided to mark their fifth anniversary* in an unusual way. Feeling the need for more exercise but not wanting to pay for a gym membership, they took the batteries out of their cars and began a 30-day experiment in getting everywhere by bike.

[Planetizen] sent me an article titled "The Absurdity of Stationary Bikes." It was making fun of all those people with gym memberships who drive around the parking lot four times to find the closest spot to the gym and then go in and ride on a stationary bike....

...I asked my wife if she would be up for taking the batteries out of our cars and learning how to get by without the car for 30 days starting on January 8th - the day of our fifth anniversary. She said okay but that she would be much more agreeable to the idea if it were in April.

January and February are probably Tulsa's worst months to be biking outside. They are Tulsa's coldest months when ice storms and snow are expected

That is why January 8 was so appealing to me. Is it possible for a couple to have no car during the worst months of the year in Tulsa without totally changing their lifestyle? If it is possible, what do you have to give up in order to do it? What are the challenges and obstacles to living life without the car in Tulsa? What are the benefits?

Nathan works downtown, Kristin works near Utica Square, and they live in Brady Heights, so the daily commute is manageable, but they're brave souls to try this in the middle of winter. The two are writing about their experiences and the practicalities of commuting by bike on a blog called Carless in Tulsa.

The month-long experiment began on January 9. They've made it to work each day, even in the sleet and cold temps of last Tuesday morning. They've even made a couple of small grocery trips, bringing home a dozen eggs from Blue Jackalope without breaking a single one. The one lapse (if you can call it that) was hitching a ride with neighbors instead of riding seven miles to church last Sunday in the bitter cold and wind.

It will be interesting to see what other obstacles they encounter and how they overcome them. Tulsa has a great collection of bike trails, but the layout is designed for recreation, not getting where you have to go. By the end of the month, Nathan and Kristin should have some interesting insights on what can be done to make the bicycle a practical means of transportation for more Tulsans.

(*What's especially stunning to me about Nathan and Kristin celebrating their fifth anniversary -- my daughter was a flower girl at their wedding when she was a wee four year old. Her age has doubled since then.)

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For some little time, I rode my bike back and forth to work, seven miles or so each way. It wasn't bad, particularly considering that the traffic on that particular route was so bad that I could actually go faster on the bike than I could in the car. As I recall, it took me not quite half an hour. But when I changed jobs to something more than 12 miles away, I could commute by car in just under twenty minutes, and riding the bike would take about forty. The total of forty extra minutes out of my daily schedule just hasn't been worth it.

Scott said:

Biking on the city streets in Tulsa means taking one's life in hand. The streets aren't really designed for it (except for a few with designated bike lanes) and many Tulsan's are aggressive towards bikers. I tried a commute once from south Tulsa to 31st/Yale, and won't do that again.

Paul Tay said:

Scott, if Tulsa streets are really that dangerous, don'tcha think Santa would have already been squished on the BA like a long time ago, and Christmas CANCELLED?

Rolling a bike from 41st/Yale to da Cube on the BA? Pizza cake! Works for Santa just fine. Watsa matter witchoo?

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on January 16, 2010 10:52 PM.

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