Wednesday, September 30, 2009

MFM Day 31: The Thin Man

September 29th, 2009

Motor Free Month Day 31: The Thin Man

Looks like I've hit a month, in a way. 31 days of Motor Free Living at any rate. I'll have to get through tomorrow to make it officially a calendar month, and I intend to keep this carnival rolling through October 3rd so we're not quite done, but today does mark a milestone of sorts nonetheless. I've been asked several times about how many miles I've put on the bike and on foot since I started on August 30th. I actually don't know for sure; between being Motor Free and blogging about being Motor Free, I've not had much spare time to add up the miles.

(Ballad of a Thin Man, Bob Dylan, Stephan Malkmus Version, link removed)

My days seem to fall into three categories; epic days with many miles of Motor Free travel, typical days with less travel, and bad weather days. By a rough count I've had about 6 "epic" days, 23 "typical" days, and 2 "weather" days. As you can imagine the epic days frequently occur on the weekends, typical days during the week. Thank goodness I've not had to combine an epic and a weather day yet. Speaking of, apparently I'm in for a couple more weather days and one more epic day, we shall see. On a typical day I probably put in 15 miles of biking and running combined. Weather days are about the same, they just seem a lot longer. Epic days will range from 20 miles to 100 miles, we'll give them an average of 50 miles.

All added up that's about 675 miles of Motor Free Travel in the past 31 days. Sounds like a lot when I total it up like that. I wonder, how much money did I save on gas? Figuring a car that gets 30 miles per gallon of gas, and a price of $2.50/gallon, I saved a whopping $56.25 in gas over the past month. Not that much money, really. Although I suppose if gas shot up to $5.00/gallon or something, Id' be saving, what, all of $110 per month. You know, still not impressive! So there must be another reason why I'm doing this.

Looking back on my original post, here's what I said:
"I conceived of this as a social experiment, as a way to get into shape, as a way to raise awareness of bicycle travel, as a way to understand the importance of motorized transport in our society, and just 'cause I'm a little off my rocker. Ironically I expect to obtain a greater appreciation for motorized transport as a result of this experiment."

So not to "save money", so that's good. I should have added "a way to force me to write a lot in my blog" as that has been one of the major side-effects. Other than that, how have I done?

  • Social experiment: I do feel a bit like a rat in a cage on a wheel, but I think I figured I'd be the one doing the experimenting, not the one being experimented upon.

  • Get Into Shape: I feel like I have improved my fitness. I just did weigh myself and I'm down about 7 pounds since the last time I weighed myself, which was a couple of weeks before Motor Free Month. I also set a personal best time at the Half Marathon I ran a couple of weeks ago. I can easily recommend going Motor Free as an effective exercise program!

  • Raise awareness of bicycle travel: Hence the reason for this blog. Time-consuming as it is, I've enjoyed writing it, and I hope you all have enjoyed reading it, and maybe it's gotten you to leave the car at home and get your bike once or twice this month. I know it has for some of you, I've really enjoyed hearing about your own Motor Free adventures. I don't think the Mayor of Fort Collins has gone Motor Free, but we'll keep working on him.

  • Understand the importance of motorized transport in our society: I think I get it now! Cars are quite useful at times. Giving us freedom of mobility, protecting travellers from bad weather, hauling heavy or bulky items, impressing people, just straight up rollin. We tend to rely on them too much but I can't discount them completely.

  • Little off my rocker: Well I admit to being a little off my rocker in order to keep you all from thinking that I am actually completely insane. I think it worked.

  • Greater appreciation for motorized transport: I think that's true. I look forward to hitting the open road in the car for far-off places. When all is said and done, I'll probably try to go Motor Free during the week, but use the car on the weekends. And I want a nicer car, too. Hey if I'm going to have to drive, it may as well be in style!

One other thing I've learned that I didn't know when I started: I live in a unique environment here in Fort Collins that is ideally suited for bike transport. So I've learned to appreciate my little town quite a bit more now than when I started. Love the Fort! Defend the Fort! The town's size, the wide streets, the (mostly) beautiful weather, the progressive attitude towards bikers, they all create an environment that incubates and encourages one and all to ride all over town. And it feeds on itself. The more people doing it, the more people start doing it. How you you think I was inspired to got Motor Free in the first place? It didn't occur in a vacuum. And it seems like everyday I see more people get out of their cars and onto their bikes.

I mean, it's crazy around here with the bikers. Maybe I just notice it more now that I'm a full-time biker, but I see bikes everywhere now. Way more than I saw in Denver, that's for sure.

College kids on bikes, sure, that's normal. That's probably where it all starts. And people out for exercise. But that's not all. I see professionals such as myself, commuting to work. I see mothers and fathers towing their children in Burley trailers. I see people going to the grocery store in their bikes. Older people riding around the senior center parking lot. Hordes of people in old town, clogging up every available bike parking spot. The city has even started putting bike racks in parking spaces just to the cyclists will have a place to park.

What I'm doing is not that strange in this town. I'm certain there are others around here who are living a motor free month by choice (they're just not blogging obsessively about it). Heck there are some who are making an entire year of it. What I'm doing is not even really noteworthy in this town. And that's fantastic. It's like everyone around here just woke up and decided, "hey, you know, it's time to ride!" I've been nurtured, inspired, and encouraged by my environment to go Motor Free. I don't know if I would have done so living somewhere else, somewhere less Motor-Free Friendly. Like the Southern half of Fort Collins, for example, ha ha ha.

1 comment:

  1. Slight editorial comment: you need to include wear and tear on your car in the amount of money you are saving this month. Bicycles are simple machines, so are easy to keep up. Cars, on the other hand, are complicated and the upkeep is high. Plus you have to pay for car insurance, around $700/yr (for me at least!) I get reimbursed about $0.45/mile by CSU when I drive my vehicle for official work travel (that includes wear and tear plus gas. 675 miles*$0.45/mile=$303.75. That's actually a pretty big savings for a month. $3645 a year. Bike upkeep for a year? If someone else does the work for you, maybe $200? So a net savings of $3445. That is pretty sizeable. over 2 months of salary for a lowly grad student like myself!