Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Mayor's carfree challenge

Each year, Missoulians celebrate the end of hibernation with "Bike, Walk, Bus Week." Each day, different events are scheduled, businesses give away goodies to non-drivers, and squeaky-chained bikes are everywhere. This year, the mayor issued the "Try it for just one day challenge:"

"Missoula Mayor John Engen pledges to get everywhere he needs to on this one day without a car, including riding the bus to and from work. Mayor John challenges all Missoulians to do the same, on this one day."

I get a sort of weird vibe from this, but Rachel tells me I'm just paranoid, and she's usually right. Still, why the addendum, "on this one day." Is Mayor John worried that someone might try it on Tuesday, too? Or, Wednesday? Or what if a family went carfree for six months--egads! And, "a challenge" necessarily implies that it is harder than using a car. Mayor Joe would have fashioned it:

"Mayor Joe invites Missoulians to discover how much fun it is to get around without a car. On Monday, let's leave the keys at home and saunter around under our own power. Think how friendly our streets will be! I bet you'll want to go carfree every Monday this year."

I have to admit, though, a mayor who proclaims to love his Mini Cooper but sponsors a carfree day--awesome! Rachel's right, way to go Missoula.


Anonymous Michael R said...

I'm with Rachel on this. Check the paranoia. Why the "on this one day?" I think it's to make the challenge easier to accept. Going carfree for a day is something most people can see their way to doing.

2:06 PM  
Anonymous todd said...

I agree with Rachel, too. Think of it as a 12-step program. "I won't travel by car Today.". Take each day as it comes, and before you know it, you'll kick the car habit entirely.

2:44 PM  
Blogger Chico Gino said...

Rachel's right, get over it. And I'd like to add that you sometimes tend to have an exaggerated sense of self-importance that you need to get over as well. It's just swell and cheeky that you sold your car, but not everyone can get by without theirs. There's no need for the soapbox. And yeah, I'm a bike commuter and rider. Go Missoula.

10:05 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Thanks for the comments. I'm looking forward to seeing if a noticeable number take up Mayor John's challenge next Monday. It's always fun to meet more cycler's and peds.

Chico Gino, I apologize for coming off poorly in my writings. Rest assured I feel completely self-unimportant. I have great admiration for those that are carfree, car-lite, bicycle commuters in much more challenging circumstances. For me here in Missoula with no kids and a cycling wife, living without a car is ridiculously easy. I'm carfree primarily because it's fun.

10:51 PM  
Blogger Chico Gino said...

That's good to hear then man. You should angle your posts that way! :-)

9:36 PM  
Anonymous Jim said...

"It's just swell and cheeky that you sold your car, but not everyone can get by without theirs."

While I understand the sentiment that some of us car-free types can come off as preachy, I disagree wholeheartedly with this statement. MANY people who say they can't get by without a car simply lack the will or the imagination to do so. Few, if any, of us are locked into a certain job or a certain home or a certain lifestyle that mandates the regular use of an automobile. Even if that was the case, it still doesn't explain why the great majority of people I know will drive a car for errands that are more than short enough to be walked, let alone those that could easily be biked. Personal life choices have more bearing on the necessity of a car than does any external force. As far as I'm concerned, Joe does something every day that most Americans, say 95% or so, are terrified to try, and it enhances his life in many ways. I don't think it makes him a self-important egomaniac to write about it in this blog. So keep writing about it Joe, and don't worry if what you write makes other people feel insecure.

1:11 PM  

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