All-day bakfiets

01Nov10

What does a day look like if the bakfiets is your car? It looks pretty much like any other day, only maybe you need a little extra time to get it all done because you’re going to be a little slower about it. What did I have to accomplish on Halloween?

  1. Take the kids to lunch
  2. Pick up prescriptions
  3. Get candy for trick-or-treaters
  4. Find a replacement toilet seat
  5. Look for new sheets at the mall
  6. Buy a travel guidebook
  7. Do grocery shopping for the week
  8. Get to and walk in the Halloween parade

Easy.

11:00 am

Kids in the bike. We’re off for pizza lunch.

11:30 am

Pizza lunch! Eating in the box is 100% more fun than going inside.

1:00 pm

Bring the kids home for a nap. Go to the pharmacy for prescriptions and candy.


1:45 pm

The mall. The dread pirate mall. I will take a detour here about why the mall was a short-sighted, very bad decision. It already feels antiquated to think of transplanting the suburbs into a city like this.

It does bring high-density retail to downtown but it puts it in a dead, private space instead of working it into the fabric that’s already there. Certainly it brings in tax receipts, but if I drive up from out of town, park in the garage, and never leave the building, am I adding anything to the life of the city? Or am I just generating numbers that look good on a spreadsheet?

My least favorite aspect is the new roads it brought with it. Gone is the one-way city grid, replaced by four-lane highway funnels. While the speed limits are the same on all these streets, everybody drives twice as fast on the new roads than they do on the cobblestone. The wider the street, the faster people will try to drive, regardless of where it is. Faster streets mean less street-level retail, less on-street parking, less pedestrians = more mall.

I found my toilet seat anyway.

(Plus: I will be in London on business in a few weeks and am meeting up with Mark of i b i k e l o n d o n for a tour and a ride, so stay tuned for that!)


3:00 pm

Shortly at the grocery store, but I have a question for you: when you drive, do you even see these signs? I don’t much understand them. When people ignore speed limits and begrudge stop signs, what are these getting done? I can hardly believe they mark recommended cycling routes; here they are planted on every major thoroughfare, which means they guide cyclists onto the busiest streets. Doesn’t make a lot of sense in a city old enough to have a basic grid so that you can ride parallel to these routes on calm, residential side streets.


3:45 pm

Shopping done. Heading back on the one dedicated bike lane on this side of town.


4:00 pm

Home. Unload.


5:00 pm

Halloween parade! G is a flower; R is a mushroom. We rode to the parade, milled around in the park, admired costumes, then bundled up in the bike for a walk in the parade. Rode home, despite the temperature having fallen what felt like 20 degrees in two hours. Probably the last trip without the cover until spring.

You can do this without your car. Your kids will love it. R&G ask to go on rides every day. I know this kind of thing won’t work for everyone, especially without infrastructure, but if you live in a college town or somewhere similarly sized with a bit of density, you can do it. Easy.

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