Tuesday, January 22, 2008

"Fly" up to Baltimore

In my spare time, I create stained glass pieces, and this past weekend, I finished this
com-missioned stained glass project for a friend of my brother's in Baltimore. Since I had Martin Luther King's holiday off from work, I reserved a Zipcar to go to Baltimore to bring this project up to its new owner. :)

I also had lunch with my sister at her new office in Columbia, and then drove to my brother's house, so I could also visit the site of his new job which he starts shortly.

The temperature was in the 20's, and I biked up to Old Town to get the Zipcar, then drive back home to pick up the stained glass, since the piece was too large to fit in my bike bag. :) As I was on the entrance to the Beltway, I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw a guy on his bicycle just barrelling along on the entrance also!! Of course, bicycles and pedestrians are prohibited - didn't this guy know that??! What was he going to do when he came around the corner and faced 4 lanes of zooming cars??! There wouldn't be anywhere for him to go! I wondered if he was going to try and jump a fence and hop onto the bike path that is on the Wilson Bridge, but I didn't think it was open or accessible.... I hope he made it okay, wherever he was headed!!!

After the day's events, I got back to Old Town with about 15 minutes to spare on my Zipcar reservation. I was happy about that, since the last time, I cut it too close. I parked the car, got out and thought I would walk over to Starbuck's to use their facilities before meeting up with a friend for dinner, who was coming into Old Town. So I used my Zipcard to lock the doors and went over to Starbuck's. When I came back, I tried to unlock the car with my card....but it wasn't working!! I tried it a few more times, but nothing. ALL my stuff was in there - my bike, my wallet, etc.! Ack! Thank GOD I had my cell phone with me (just happened to put it in the pocket to my jacket!) - so I called Zipcar and told them what happened. The guy was very nice and helpful, and looked online at my reservation. It turns out that, during the course of my use of the Zipcar, I had used the button for automatically locking and unlocking the various doors of the car. (When you use your card to unlock the driver's side, it JUST opens the driver's side - no other doors - which is kind of a pain). I had to get the stained glass in the rear passenger seat area, and also access the area behind the driver's seat so I could put the rear seat down, in order to totally fit my bike in the trunk. So it was just easier to hit the button for automatically unlocking all the doors. Well, evidently this messes up the locking sequence as far as using your Zipcard. Crazy. I guess next time I'll have to crawl inside the car and unlock the various doors manually. Anyway, the Zipcar representative re-set the locks, and while he waited on the phone, I used my card to unlock the doors, and it worked. Whew! Nice to be able to get all my stuff out and be on my way. Another "live and learn" experience with Zipcar! But it's great that they have quick and helpful telephone assistance!!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Interview on TV!

On Tuesday afternoon, I checked my e-mail and was surprised to see an e-mail from a reporter from Fox 5 News! He said he had seen my Living Car-Free blog, and wanted to come and interview me! I was skeptical at first - I mean, anyone can send an e-mail like that...it looked official, but how can you be sure? I called the business number he listed and left a message, and then called his cell phone. He answered, and we spoke a little while - they wanted to come by my office after I got off work (within an hour!). I said alright - - I figured I'd know it was the "real thing" if they showed up in a news truck. :) However, they didn't - they evidently were in a car, and parked nearby, so they walked up to the building. But when I saw the big video camera, I guess I was convinced then! :)

They spent the next hour or two, filming me in and outside the office, then strapped on a small video camera to my bike and filmed my commute home - while they drove to my house to meet me and videotape me pulling up in the driveway. :) So it was an interesting way to spend an evening! :) Maybe it'll get some people interested in taking up biking when Spring rolls around!

We got an e-mail at work today saying that the parking rates for our office building will be going up to $250 a month!! Wow! How do people afford that?? That's like $3000 a year!! You could buy a REAL nice bike for that!!! :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Taxes for roads...

Looks like I went car-free at a good time - according to the news, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority will be collecting new taxes and fees to raise money for major road and transit projects in Northern VA as of 1/1/08...

  • Car inspection fee: $10 increase

  • Auto repairs: 5 percent of labor costs

  • Regional car registration fee: $10

  • Initial car registration fee: 1 percent of value of car

Not a lot collected, but every buck counts...!

Along with the new fare hikes on Metro this week, I am thankful for my bike and Zipcar for transportation!