In 2010 I resolved to go car-lite, then car-free if possible. Fast forward two years and without me noticing, I ended up fulfilling that goal!
I wrote about it on my nursing blog, if you’re interested to learn more.
My car started the year with 183,093 miles on it. I didn’t drive it the first three days of the month, driving it for the first time on the 4th, when I started classes. I filled up the tank on the 5th for $45 even, and drove the car only for 148 miles during the whole month, mostly because I got my license suspended and taken away. Car-related costs included $9 in pay-to-park fees before I was able to get my parking decal at the university, and $60 to have my license reinstated after my record was found to be clean and in order. I have an appointment to get a new driver’s license now in mid-February.
Initial Miles – 183,093
Driven Miles – 148
Total Miles – 183,241
Car Expenses – $114
I tried to think of a more “title-y” title for this post, but there isn’t one beyond the pure fact: my bike was stolen.
Last night (Jan 31) I went to Publix (on Alton & Fifth Mall) on the bike then rode back to my apt (on Meridian Ave & 10 St). I took the bike through the back gate, past the rather large scooter parked there, and into the little area in the back of the building where I normally tie it down. I put on the U-lock (a Kryptonite Keeper 12 lock), which was stored in the left pannier, through the front wheel’s spokes and around the frame, [put on the chain lock (an OnGuard Mastiff lock) around the down tube], grabbed the bag with the groceries and went up. It was around 8 PM when I go home, as the Grammys started shortly thereafter.
This morning, when I left the house at around 7:25 AM (according to the text message I sent to Twitter right after), I walked out the back gate as I had to throw away the trash, passed by the scooter, and my bike wasn’t there. The U-lock was nowhere around, cut or otherwise, though the chain lock was still tied around the pipe that I use as anchor. The chain lock did not seem tampered with. I took a quick look around but I was late for my bus so I kept going (sending the aforementioned text message).
I’m not stating all these details just to be wordy, but to retrace each of my steps. And the reason I wrote one step above in between [brackets] is that I can only assume that I did this as is my rote when I park the bike, but I can’t remember 100%. The one thing that makes me doubt is that the chain lock was untampered with, and this is a lock that’s guaranteed to be tamper/cutting-proof. So yeah, it is quite possible that when I got home my mind was in la-la land and I forgot to tie the bike using the chain lock.
Nevertheless, with the U-lock locking the front wheel, unless they cut it, they had to have carried the bike out of the building’s fenced perimeter, and while that’s no impossible, my bike weighs around 50 lbs, so they certainly had their work cut out for them.
Thieves suck. I’m so sad and angry about having Elam stolen. I have already reported the theft to the Miami Beach Police Department, and will give them the frame number (equivalent to the VIN in a car) later today along with photographs. I’m also forwarding this info to all Miami Beach/Downtown Miami bike shops just so they can be aware. There aren’t that many Electra Amsterdam bikes in Miami, let alone in the Beach (there are only two Electra dealers in Miami Beach), and mine is the only one with a pair of Basil canvas panniers (though I expect these would have been removed immediately, as they are the bike’s most distinctive feature, though not the only one).
I don’t know if I’ll see my bike again. I certainly hope so, but I also know how common bike thefts are and I don’t really expect the police will be able to do much (even if it is a $700 bike). I also don’t have money right now to get another one, so it seems my slow bike days are, for the moment, on hiatus.
If you see my bike, think you saw it, have some info, whatever, feel free to leave it in the comments section.
I had to drive my car this weekend for a very short distance, but it was enough to remind me of something very important and which I need to keep firmly in mind: my car is slowly dying. It is loosing power steering fluid quite fast, it has a minor but consistent motor oil leak and the left wheel wobbles a bit at the point where it connects to the axle. To repair these would cost far more than I am willing to put into the car, so I basically now have a motorized carriage with a countdown. To add to the thoughts I already had going about the car, I got the tag renewal papers in the mail: $58 to get the new 2011 sticker. And insurance is just around the corner.
It’s now a week since my bike took a tumble from a Miami Dade Transit bus and got hit. I dropped it at Miami Beach Bicycle Center on Wednesday for repairs, kind of preparing myself mentally for the repair cost quote. I sweated there for a bit when I got confirmation that the rear wheel was a total loss and an original Electra replacement would be somewhere around $200, but Alex Ruiz came up with a better and cheaper solution, replacing the rim with a non-Electra one that is actually a bit stronger (it has dual aluminum layers from what he told me) along with stainless-steel spokes. The total was $107 with tax, which made Tuesday’s ride on the Metrobus the most expensive bus ride in my life. But, Elam now has a new tire that runs fantastic and is back in action.
Today I was to start my car-free commute to the University, due mainly to the fact that yesterday I got a ticket and had my license suspended and taken away (for a supposed unpaid infraction that was actually thrown out of court and reduced to $0, I found out later), and if I’m caught driving, well, it’s the slammer for me. No problem, I have a bike and Miami’s fairly good public transit system at my disposal. Let’s do this.
I biked from my house in South Beach across the Venetian Causeway and into the Omni station at the edge of Downtown Miami (see MapMyRide.com route here). It took me about 35 minutes and it was an eye-opener in many respects: how much weight I need to shed from what I’m carrying (I calculate I was carrying about 30 lbs between the chunky bike chain, backpack with school stuff, laptop and extra clothes due to the 40° weather), how different it is to bike for leisure vs when you need to get somewhere on a time schedule, and how I need to better layer for the cold so I can remove layers more efficiently while riding. All good lessons. And in the end, I did make it to Omni, fairly tired, with a nice burning sensation in my thighs from the exercise, but overall fine and dandy. I was actually quite proud of myself!
Then came the bus leg of the trip, taking bus route 93 from Omni station to 135 St along Biscayne Blvd. The bus pulled up, I brought down the front bike rack and hefted (ugh!) the bike into it. I was always afraid that the 700-size wheels on the Amsterdam would not properly fit the bus bike racks, but they fit just fine, surprisingly (700 is not a common size in the US). It was also my first time using the bike rack so I followed the instructions on the Miami Dade Transit (MDT) website to the letter when locking it, but asked the driver as I got on if I’d done it right; my bike is back-heavy due to the panniers so it felt a bit wobbly and I wanted to be sure. She made a non-committal noise and shrugged; I took that to be a yes.
With the start of the new year and my return to university for my Nursing degree, I have decided to make a radical change in my life as it has been for the last (give or take) 9 years: I want to be car-lite, and eventually car-free, in 2010.
Over the past year, I really got into riding my bicycle as a regular form of transportation, increasing little by little the amount and distance of riding I’d do. Along with that, my interest in bicycle advocacy was also ignited, due greatly to the lack of functional bicycle infrastructure in the Greater Miami area, and especially in my home of Miami Beach, a place that by all means should be a paradise for bicyclists. As I stand a couple of days away from starting a new phase in my life, I figured it was the perfect time to put into practice what I have been preaching to the four winds: a bicycle, especially when coupled with other alternative forms of transportation, can be pretty much all you need.
The truth is that for a few months now I have been chewing on the idea of getting rid of my car, a 1996 Toyota Camry. I like my car just fine, but I have fallen out of love with it and with the car-centric lifestyle. As I have used it less and less I have noticed that it hasn’t been that big of a deal, and in fact, it has saved us a nice amount of money. That was all well and good while I was unemployed and thus my car trips were few and far in between, but why not take the plunge?