Wednesday, April 18, 2012

At the Corner of Manchaca and 71

Cyclists in this part of town tend to be a little more utilitarian. No fancy, or even trendy clothes, and very few wearing Lycra. Not surprising, since this intersection is a little perilous right here and not conducive to gaining speed, and I would always cross over one exit down rather than try and navigate this intersection.

Sticking with the crosswalk, perhaps a safer choice at a point where cars blast through if they can.

Unusual Bicycle

I cannot imagine how much this baby costs. I'm not sure what the perks would be for this type of bicycle, other than the back support. It must be very hard to look over your shoulder to see traffic. I don't know, I don't think I could ride this bike.


We interrupt the usual theme of this blog with pictures of Texas wildflowers. I took most of these at a park near my work. The great thing about these flowers is they grow in the nook and crannies of our highways and streets, bringing beauty to a drab part of the streetscape.

These let out the most awesome aroma. It is a very heavy scent that just hangs in the air.

This is heaven to walk by.

Shoal Creek Hike and Bike Trail

I throw this in here just because. I'm not sure what it is or its purpose, other than to creep.

Friday, April 6, 2012

No Longer a Rite of Passage

I remember getting my driver's license. The bitchy lady at the DPS (she is legendary in my hometown) gave me the two page test, which I promptly failed. Apparently, she liked me. She then coached me through the test and voila! I was a licensed driver. Freedom! go anywhere by myself between the hours of 6 and 10. I got my license right around the time lawmakers in Austin thought perhaps it wasn't a good idea for teenagers to be distracted while driving.

Getting a driver's license was almost mandatory in my small town. There is no bus system, maybe two taxis, and bicycles were practically nonexistent. You have a car or live by begging rides, and in a town where almost everyone else has a license, its hard being THAT person, you know, the one who is a bother asking for rides. I lived about 10 miles outside of town, so I had to be schlepped everywhere  by my parents. Once I had my license, all that dependency was gone.

Apparently that experience is becoming less common. According to this article, fewer Americans teenagers are getting their license.  Experts are pointing to increased social media usage as the reason for fewer face to face interactions, and therefore, the need to leave your home. However, I find that hard to believe. Maybe I'm a little too old for this, but I just can't see that filling the need for human contact and interaction. I believe it plays a role, but not to the extent they say in the article. More likely teenagers simply can't/won't take on the cost of a car or they live in cities with good public transportation. I think there could be some ancillary reasons that weren't really discussed in the article.

1. Cars have lost some of their cachet.  Compared to the 50s and 60s, the cars of today are very utilitarian, mpg here and fuel efficiency that, the culture doesn't embrace them in the same way. Cars are just less sexy than they were a couple of decades ago. When I was in high school, people would cruise up and down the strip on the weekend, just for something to do. With gas at 4 dollars a gallon, anyone doing that would look like a fool. Or a douche.

2. Greenwashing. Maybe some of that environmental message has come through.

3. Car companies. Perhaps the automobile industry needs to do a little PR with the group that was greatly affected by the Great Recession.

Whatever the reasons, and it sounds there still needs to be some research done on this issue, it is a boon to alternative transportation advocates. When I first moved to Austin, I remember many of the country bumpkins, myself included, were afraid of Capmetro. Hippies! Homeless people! Now? Couldn't love it more as a tool to help me get around town. Cycling? All those UT kids made it look easy! ( I did not go to UT, but rather St. Ed's, where we through a shit fit when they wanted to start charging for the garage.)  Once I got a taste of being less reliant on my car, there is no way I'd want to live like that again.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Political Officials on Bicycles

Came across this picture of Ron Paul on a bike from a friends Facebook page. He is I think, a little obsessed with Mr. Paul. I like that Paul looks so relaxed, one-handed slouch and everything.

So, I went looking for other political types on bicycles, finding the governor of our great state of Texas, Rick Perry:
I almost didn't recognize him without the hair.  

President George Bush, who makes sure wherever he is there is an American flag in the foreground.

President Barack Obama. There are some of him with a helmet on, but the one thing I like about the majority of the pictures you find of him on a bicycle he is wearing regular clothes. 

Looks like no matter what your political beliefs, everyone enjoys a little time on two-wheels!