Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Car [free] toons

I am in over my head right now so I am just gonna throw some good biking cartoons your way until I get a little more caught up....

Bob Lafay and Wire Donkey Bike Zine (above and below).

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cycling trips.

Here are two service oriented cycling trips that I would go on if I could!!

Ride across the entire US while building houses with Habitat for Humanity.

Ride bikes AND plant trees for a week in New England.

Check out the sites, sponsor a rider, or sign up to ride yourself!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Down to the town.

I am now officially a resident of downtown Charleston and it rocks. It as though I am rediscovering the town and falling even further in love with it. The people, the buildings, the possibilities... all so inviting and interesting. One of the reasons that living downtown is so great is that the city is actually designed in a way that you can get almost everything you need without having a car. For example, today, I managed to get prescriptions, develop pictures, check out a book, and rent a cat trap (long story) all within a few city blocks from my house. Long before suburbs, highways, and wal-marts, most people lived in densely packed cities, close to where they worked, and shopped at the local businesses in their neighborhoods. These days, this kind of development has been re popularized under the theories of smart growth and new urbanism, although nothing compares to the original. (Its hard to implement these new concepts in a time and space where people are used to their cars and being able to buy everything they need in one box store for really cheap). Yet I have hope that development will continue on its journey to becoming more community oriented, walk-able, bike-able, and ecologically sound. As for cities like Charleston that have a well established downtown, I encourage people to get out of their cars, meet their neighbors, head to the farmers market, and support the local economy. Otherwise, our cities will continue to become alienated by the large monoculture that is corporate America, where you can step off a plane, drive a rental car past the locals, get dinner at a chain restaurant inside a chain hotel, and forget what city you are in.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Moving forward, looking backward.

As some of you may know, I am getting ready to move downtown this weekend. I will no longer have to bike over the bridge or catch the bus (that's my stop above) which will make my life so much easier. While I cannot wait to live closer to the action, I am sad about leaving West Ashley behind. I have gotten used to biking to South Windermere, Avondale, and even across the bridge. Although my commute into town can be frustrating, exhausting, or time consuming, it has become part of my daily routine and something I often look forward to. Most days I pass the same groups of people, some of which have become my friends, whether its the bus driver or riders, bike commuters, dog walkers, post woman, or neighbors. The Byrnes Down community has its own little social circle and events that create a sense of community that is nice to be a part of. My two lovely neighbors will be the hardest to leave behind, their genuine and easy going conversations are something to look forward to whether out in the yard or walking the dog.

Yet the only thing I am truly worried about leaving is the greenway. Every morning my dog and I "suit up" and head out for our hour long walk (sometimes a little longer). This is Sadie's time to live it up and be her doggie doodle self. She gets to run free, follow trails, eat things, chase squirrels, and splash around in puddles. We often bump into her greenway doggle friends and she gets to have a little playtime action. Meanwhile I get to talk to neighbors, bird watch, search for four leaf clovers, drink my tea, and take pictures. While I know that I will find new adventures downtown and finally get to partake in "pup-park" playtime, I know that I will miss the relaxing trail feel of the greenway. So to commemorate my adventures, I took some pictures one of our last few outings this morning (because I finally got a new camera!!).

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

March-ing on...

The next few weeks are going to be scarce on the posts because I am trying to write an entire thesis in a month and while I am good under pressure, I think this might be pushing my limits. For now, I will give you three pics from my camera phone with some commentary...

When I was freezing my arse off at the bus stop one morning, this awesome bike commuter passed me. I commend him for his bravery for riding on Savannah Hwy as well as his use of the gutter as a bike lane. And yes, he probably thought I was totally sketchy for taking a picture of him with my phone... sorry dude... I've got blog readers to entertain. This picture also captures a pet peeve of mine- the sidewalks that randomly end and begin, leaving you in people's yards and push you into the road. When I am walking to my bus stop I go from a nice safe sidewalk that ends by dumping me into an intersection with no crosswalk, and once I scramble in front of cars like a sketchball I end up on the other side of the street where there is...oh wait. Nothing. Where the sidewalk should be there is only a little path worn into the weeds that leads to my bus stop (which you can see on the left side of the picture). To further illustrate this, check out the picture below.I mean.... really? Did the developers of this neighborhood/shopping center look and this and think "Ahhh.. our work here is done." This brings a whole new meaning to Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends. I will tell you where it ends Shel... all over Charleston. I just want to take ALL of the planners, developers, and policy makers in Charleston and put them in the shoes of the pedestrians, bus users, and bike riders. This idea was re-inforced when I was talking to a man that is involved in transportation issues and he was stunned to find out that 90 percent of the bus stops are not on the route maps and are marked by only a sign with no bench, shelter, or trash can. It kills me when I am in a car with someone and they complain about bikers in their lane, the bus stopping in front of them, and people running across the road. But, unfortunately, in the road democracy, cars have the majority vote. Luckily, organizations like Architecture for Humanity are helping Charleston address issues like the Crosstown debacle. And to be fair, there are places where planners have gotten it right like on Lockwood (except for the lack of bike lane).
I am able to follow the sidewalk all the way from the 61 bridge onto this fun boardwalk-ish place with a great view of the marina. I can then jump into traffic and head into the city with no problem. So there is hope....there is always hope :-)