Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Concert

When I was in 3rd grade and lived in suburban Maryland, the teacher showed a slideshow of the new subway system that was to be built in Washington, D.C. The year was 1967. The picture, very similar to the one here, looked VERY futuristic to me. I was in awe of how cool it looked. The subway was finished in 1976, and I was a senior in high school. I remember the first day it opened, and how they offered free rides, so people could check it out. :) Little did I know then that I would come to use the Metro often in the future. Without a car, the Metro comes in handy in covering distances fairly quickly. Sometimes though, if there are delays in the system, and adding in transfer times at various stations, I can cover some of those distances on my bike just as fast.

This past weekend, I decided I'd like to go to a Christmas concert in a community theatre in Arlington. It was about 5:20 p.m., and the concert would start at 7:30. Could I make it in time? Well, long story short, it took me about 2 hrs. using both the Metro and biking. If I had ridden my bike only, it may have taken just a little less time.

But sometimes it's nice to make use of the Metro. If I've already done a bit of biking during the day (as I had that day - I had done 30-35 miles), it's nice to have the lift on Metro vs. riding (as much as I love to ride!!). I take a book along and get some reading in, which I rarely seem to have time for. I can chat with friends/family on my cell phone while waiting for the train to come.

When I arrived at the theatre for the concert, there was a bike rack outside. I was going to lock my bike up there, but after buying my concert ticket, I saw that the lobby atrium was large. I inquired if I could just bring my bike inside and put it over in a corner. They said that would be fine, so I brought it in and locked it to a long fold-up table. When I gave my ticket to the lady usher, she looked at me and said I was a "brave" person to be out there riding in the 30-degree temps. :) Really, if you're dressed right, you warm up in a few miles, and you are fine and toasty for riding...I hardly notice the cold (unless the wind chill is really low). :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Year Two - Car-Free!

Well, here's to being car-free for Year Two! :) In looking back over the year, I was curious to see how often I had used Zipcar (and other rental cars). For Zipcar, I had used them 4 times, for a total of $281. I also had rented cars from Enterprise for two weekends away, for a total of about $400. I took my folding bike on Amtrak to Richmond and Baltimore, for a total of about $70. So that's not too bad. I did, however, have to spend a bit on bike repair through the year - a couple of my bikes are about 5 years old. I didn't keep a running log of those expenses, but they did include new tires, a brake shifter, new drivetrain, new bottom bracket bearings, to name a few. I hope to do a better job of keeping track of these expenses next year. But I'm sure the bike repair expenses were A LOT cheaper than CAR REPAIRS! :) :)

With my late summer move to a new residence, I have a new housemate. Although she has offered to help me whenever I need a ride somewhere, I do try to do my errands on my own. One question people have asked me in the past, is how do I handle getting my groceries. At my previous residence, my friend Melinda, did most of the grocery shopping for both of us, via her car, and I paid my half. I would sometimes, however, stop and get a few things at the store that I wanted or needed. Now, though, I do get groceries on my own. I have found that my two panniers hold A LOT (believe it or not!). With their various zippered compartments, I find room for everything. I make one big food shopping trip a week, and sometimes stop to pick up a few things during the week that I need. It has worked out just fine. I also have my Bike Friday travel suitcase to hook up, to use for larger items or amounts, if need be.

I now live within walking distance to the bike store I frequent. This is VERY handy... I can drop off my bike on the way home, and then walk the 15 minutes to home. The shopping center where the bike store is located, also has a grocery store and a few restaurants that I can pick up carry-out food for dinner or dine in, which is nice. My bank is on the walk home also. And lastly, the subway is only about a 2-mile walk. If ice or snow keeps me off my bike, I can still get to work. So I'm happy with that set-up - it's good to be able to walk to stores and the subway. I did purchase some YakTrax to slip onto my boots/shoes for dealing with icy sidewalks, if I need to walk somewhere.

So, onto Year 3 of being Car-Free! Stay tuned! :)

**** ADDENDUM *****

We received about 20 inches of snow the weekend of Dec. 19th. My thought that I could walk to the subway didn't pan out because the sidewalks were not cleared, and there's not much room on the roads to walk. So I ended up catching rides to the subway with my roommate and/or a nearby friend. I can also walk 15 min. from my house to the main road and catch a bus that takes me to the subway, so that's been helpful. :)