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  1. #1
    Senior Member loky1179's Avatar
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    Living car free - story in Minneapolis paper

    Just thought I'd share this story that was in our local newspaper yesterday.

    Minneapolis man survives ? and thrives ? without a car | Star Tribune

    Not a lot of new info compared to what's available on this forum, but the fact that it is in a major newspaper at least gives some hope that the concept is reaching a broader audience.

    The comments section is interesting as well. More than a few motorists are a little bit insecure. Though I suppose the comments section (for any story, not just about biking) is always a sewer.

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    I thought it was cool and unusual (for a newspaper article) that his main reason for not having a car was that he had more fun and felt more free. He barely touched on the cash savings, and I don't think he even mentioned fitness or the environment. The emphasis was "because it's fun" instead of "because it's good for you."


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    Senior Member GodsBassist's Avatar
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    I like that he pinged on the difficulty of reading bus route info and that it's a hurdle to public transportation. I had been car free for months before I found out that there's a bus that travels straight to the mall and that there is a stop across the street from my apartment. There has to be some kind of way to present that information better. Google maps is a start, I guess, since they've started to coordinate multiple public transit systems in their direction finding tools.

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GodsBassist View Post
    I like that he pinged on the difficulty of reading bus route info and that it's a hurdle to public transportation. I had been car free for months before I found out that there's a bus that travels straight to the mall and that there is a stop across the street from my apartment. There has to be some kind of way to present that information better. Google maps is a start, I guess, since they've started to coordinate multiple public transit systems in their direction finding tools.
    Yes, for years I have been saying that bus riding is a complex or difficult skill set. We teach high school students how to drive, but not how to use transit (or safely ride a bike). The new transit apps are promising, but I'm not sure they simplify transit use all that much at this point.


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  5. #5
    Senior Member loky1179's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GodsBassist View Post
    I like that he pinged on the difficulty of reading bus route info and that it's a hurdle to public transportation. I had been car free for months before I found out that there's a bus that travels straight to the mall and that there is a stop across the street from my apartment. There has to be some kind of way to present that information better. Google maps is a start, I guess, since they've started to coordinate multiple public transit systems in their direction finding tools.
    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    Yes, for years I have been saying that bus riding is a complex or difficult skill set. We teach high school students how to drive, but not how to use transit (or safely ride a bike). The new transit apps are promising, but I'm not sure they simplify transit use all that much at this point.
    I'd always hated the bus, until I started using it for my commute. It was a revelation - like hey, this is a lot easier than I thought! So I started looking at bus schedules to see what other places I could go. And for many of the routes, it was like WTF??? A lot of the routes had loops, and sub loops, many of which were only intermittently serviced. These fine points were distingushed by letter designations; route "6C" does not go exactly where route "6B" went.

    The only way I actually figured out some of them, was to hop on the bus, and figure that if worse came to worse, I'd reach somewhere I could walk from, even if it wasn't where I hoped to end up.

    Glad to know I'm not the only one who has trouble reading a bus schedule. This might help to explain the relative popularity of light rail. If you know where the tracks go, you know the train isn't going to make any unexpected turns!

    Apps that would give real time data, and make the route understandable, can't get here fast enough. Maybe I'd even think about buying a smart phone.

  6. #6
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    I thought it was cool and unusual (for a newspaper article) that his main reason for not having a car was that he had more fun and felt more free. He barely touched on the cash savings, and I don't think he even mentioned fitness or the environment. The emphasis was "because it's fun" instead of "because it's good for you."
    I'm kind of surprised this article ran in a Minneapolis newspaper. Reason is that it's already pretty "old hat". It's gotta be a slow day even here in Des Moines before the local paper runs another "carfree" story.

    There was a lot of pertinent information in the article though.. so a newbie could learn a thing or two.

    I'm hopeful that in another few years, this phenomenon will be so common, nobody will run such a story.

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gerv View Post
    I'm kind of surprised this article ran in a Minneapolis newspaper. Reason is that it's already pretty "old hat". It's gotta be a slow day even here in Des Moines before the local paper runs another "carfree" story.

    There was a lot of pertinent information in the article though.. so a newbie could learn a thing or two.

    I'm hopeful that in another few years, this phenomenon will be so common, nobody will run such a story.
    The news stories have gotten better. A few years ago they were all the same: The editor told a young reporter to go without her car for a few days and report whimsically about the experience. The reporter didn't want to do it, didn't know how to do it, and didn't even believe it was possible. So of course the carfree experiment was a failure, and the whimsical conclusion was always the same: "Maybe they don't need cars in Europe or New York City, but here in Podunk (or wherever) we need our cars and we're never going to give them up."


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    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gerv View Post
    I'm hopeful that in another few years, this phenomenon will be so common, nobody will run such a story.
    I'd like to see the opposite. I remember a few years ago the Toronto Star (a bulky paper) published some story about biking, and few days later a letter writer wrote in to complain that it was the same predictable nonsense they published every spring, and a waste of column inches. So I did a quick count and noticed that they published 80 pages a week (!) devoted to cars. This was before online ads were as big as they are now, so there were a lot of classified ads for cars included in that, as well as the automotive section which were published on Wednesday and Saturday. Nowadays it might be 20 or maybe 50 pages (I'll have to do an updated count) but still a lot. As biking becomes more "mainstream" I would hope there would be a lot more reporting on it.

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cooker View Post
    I'd like to see the opposite. I remember a few years ago the Toronto Star (a bulky paper) published some story about biking, and few days later a letter writer wrote in to complain that it was the same predictable nonsense they published every spring, and a waste of column inches. So I did a quick count and noticed that they published 80 pages a week (!) devoted to cars. This was before online ads were as big as they are now, so there were a lot of classified ads for cars included in that, as well as the automotive section which were published on Wednesday and Saturday. Nowadays it might be 20 or maybe 50 pages (I'll have to do an updated count) but still a lot. As biking becomes more "mainstream" I would hope there would be a lot more reporting on it.
    To be fair, there are more articles about cars in our Michigan and Ontario papers, since they are so important to the state/provincial economies. But still, I agree that there would have to be a hell of a lot more bike and carfree stories to have any kind of parity. I hope to see more and more, as that would indicate greater public interest.

    For a few months, our local daily published (online) a blog on carfree issues, written by a carfree staff writer. It was discontinued, I think because the writer lost interest.


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  10. #10
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cooker View Post
    I'd like to see the opposite. I remember a few years ago the Toronto Star (a bulky paper) published some story about biking, and few days later a letter writer wrote in to complain that it was the same predictable nonsense they published every spring, and a waste of column inches. So I did a quick count and noticed that they published 80 pages a week (!) devoted to cars. This was before online ads were as big as they are now, so there were a lot of classified ads for cars included in that, as well as the automotive section which were published on Wednesday and Saturday. Nowadays it might be 20 or maybe 50 pages (I'll have to do an updated count) but still a lot. As biking becomes more "mainstream" I would hope there would be a lot more reporting on it.
    I see your point about cars. But I think you should remember that auto advertising drives a lot of revenue and the car stories go nicely with the ads.

    I wonder how many "carfree" stories you see in New York newspapers. They'd certainly have to think hard about pitching a story like that in a city where over 50% of households don't own cars.

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    I just saw this article on my kitchen table before coming over to the computer and hopping on BF. As a cyclist who lives in Minneapolis, I love it. This is a very bike friendly city, the only downside of it being winter, which CAN be biked in but only if you're as tough as nails.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GodsBassist View Post
    I like that he pinged on the difficulty of reading bus route info and that it's a hurdle to public transportation. I had been car free for months before I found out that there's a bus that travels straight to the mall and that there is a stop across the street from my apartment. There has to be some kind of way to present that information better. Google maps is a start, I guess, since they've started to coordinate multiple public transit systems in their direction finding tools.
    +1000000

    Trying to read the bus route on a printed transit bus schedule is a complete waste of time. I'll never understand why they don't just list maybe two dozen stops like a train map insead of creating a complex drawing of the route?

    Alot of transit agencies do not even create a "system" wide map of all the services they provide. NJ Transit has an extensive map of dozens of lines that cross each other but you would never know this becuase they never took the time to create a map. Fortunately, someone actually took the time to do this on his own! Quite frankly, I had no idea you could reach almost every important city in New Jersey using a two zone bus card.

    Then there are transit agencies that don't have "Trip Planners" bulit into their websites where you enter your start and end points and a printed itinerary is printed on screne with detailed info on what buses or trains to take including transfers and cost. (NJ Transit does have this) As a result, most public transit passengers use maybe half a dozen bus lines or less because they don't know where the other ones are going (or costs) so there is few if any experimentation.
    Last edited by Dahon.Steve; 05-10-14 at 05:22 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by loky1179 View Post
    Just thought I'd share this story that was in our local newspaper yesterday.

    Minneapolis man survives ? and thrives ? without a car | Star Tribune

    Not a lot of new info compared to what's available on this forum, but the fact that it is in a major newspaper at least gives some hope that the concept is reaching a broader audience.

    The comments section is interesting as well. More than a few motorists are a little bit insecure. Though I suppose the comments section (for any story, not just about biking) is always a sewer.
    From the article:

    >>>Owning a car seemed limiting, and not worth the money. “I think we’re tied to our cars so that people refuse to go to certain parts of the city because they don’t want to park, they don’t want to pay for parking or they have to leave somewhere early because their car is parked in a certain spot,” >>>>

    It's not very often you'll read an article that a car is "Limiting" since it's usually just the opposite. A car is all about freedom of travel and excape from the dreaded bus.

    When I think about it, there are a number of places I would not visit very often if I did own a car. Like the entire island of Manhattan!!

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    From the article:
    >>>>
    The transit system works reasonably well if you’re going to go downtown, or to one of the downtowns,” said Prof. David Levinson, a transportation expert at the University of Minnesota. “There’s relatively fewer cross-connections. So if you’re not going to downtown, but you want to go from Point A to Point B, Car2Go might very well be faster<<<<

    One of the problems with public transit is the fact that all the buses are going downtown. To be honest, I really don't see this as a problem and here's why.

    I read at the turn of the last century, people used to walk one or two miles to a trolly stop. Once they reached a point that was fairly close, they walked another one or two miles more until they reached their final destination. Why are people so adverse to walking today? Seriously.

    What's wrong with taking a bus that's going downtown, getting off and walk cross town to your final destination? Why do people need to board two or three buses to take you within 15 feet of your door step? I've never done this in my life and perfer to walk instead of taking multiple buses, wasting hours in the process just to avoid exercise. Just had to get that off my back.

    Since I discovered my Xootr, those cross town trips are enjoyable. (a folding bike would also work too)

    mgComposite[1].jpg
    Last edited by Dahon.Steve; 05-10-14 at 06:24 AM.

  15. #15
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
    What's wrong with taking a bus that's going downtown, getting off and walk cross town to your final destination? Why do people need to board two or three buses to take you within 15 feet of your door step? I've never done this in my life and perfer to walk instead of taking multiple buses, wasting hours in the process just to avoid exercise.
    When I take public transit in the winter, I've found the best way to go to work is not to take the streetcar that goes from the expected subway stop direct to my office along a congested street. Instead I get off the subway one stop early, and take a faster streetcar on a parallel street 800 m north of the direct one, and walk the last 800 m down the cross-street. There are now two hipster coffee bars on that strip, plus a longstanding Portuguese bakery, so bonus!
    Last edited by cooker; 05-10-14 at 01:17 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
    +1000000

    Trying to read the bus route on a printed transit bus schedule is a complete waste of time. I'll never understand why they don't just list maybe two dozen stops like a train map insead of creating a complex drawing of the route?

    Alot of transit agencies do not even create a "system" wide map of all the services they provide. NJ Transit has an extensive map of dozens of lines that cross each other but you would never know this becuase they never took the time to create a map. Fortunately, someone actually took the time to do this on his own! Quite frankly, I had no idea you could reach almost every important city in New Jersey using a two zone bus card.

    Then there are transit agencies that don't have "Trip Planners" bulit into their websites where you enter your start and end points and a printed itinerary is printed on screne with detailed info on what buses or trains to take including transfers and cost. (NJ Transit does have this) As a result, most public transit passengers use maybe half a dozen bus lines or less because they don't know where the other ones are going (or costs) so there is few if any experimentation.
    Here in Atlanta I find the iphone google maps app to do a good job of planning mass transit routes. The app shows me which bus stop to go to, transfers to make, where to walk, etc. I can tell the app I prefer a train route. Multiple itineraries are usually shown.

    Marta also has an app that shows real time locations of buses.
    Last edited by Walter S; 05-12-14 at 03:30 PM.

  17. #17
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cooker View Post
    When I take public transit in the winter, I've found the best way to go to work is not to take the streetcar that goes from the expected subway stop direct to my office along a congested street. Instead I get off the subway one stop early, and take a faster streetcar on a parallel street 800 m north of the direct one, and walk the last 800 m down the cross-street. There are now two hipster coffee bars on that strip, plus a longstanding Portuguese bakery, so bonus!
    I wouldn't be surprised if those two new businesses are there because of the streetcar line.

    Transit can be very good for business. Even here, where transit is more rudimentary and less popular, I have counted up to 80 people an hour getting off buses and going to one particular discount store.
    Last edited by Roody; 05-10-14 at 03:48 PM.


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    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    I wouldn't be surprised if those two new businesses are there because of the streetcar line.

    Transit can be very good for business. Even here, where transit is more rudimentary and less popular, I have counted up to 80 people an hour getting off buses and going to one particular discount store.
    Actually it's a street in transition from a Portuguese immigrant neighbourhood shopping street, to a student/hipster strip with vinyl records, vintage clothes and craft beer bars, and a start-up bike shop, but the fact that the area is well served by public transit means it is vibrant and always evolving.

    http://ossingtonvillage.com/
    Last edited by cooker; 05-12-14 at 10:13 AM.

  19. #19
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cooker View Post
    Actually it's a street in transition from a Portuguese immigrant neighbourhood shopping street, to a student/hipster strip with vinyl records, vintage clothes and craft beer bars, and a start-up bike shop, but the fact that the area is well served by public transit means it is vibrant and always evolving.

    http://ossingtonvillage.com/
    It sounds nice, but were the Portuguese OK with it?


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  20. #20
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    I wouldn't be surprised if those two new businesses are there because of the streetcar line.

    Transit can be very good for business. Even here, where transit is more rudimentary and less popular, I have counted up to 80 people an hour getting off buses and going to one particular discount store.
    Even if the bus folks aren't necessarily buying a lot, the presence of pedestrians and people milling around is a little more enticing. Most of the streets in Des Moines that got the bike lane/Complete Streets makeover generally benefited. Those streets are move vibrant, more pedestrians and cyclists, and slower car traffic. There were a few changes. In the area where I commute, for example, a motorcycle bar was transformed into a hipster/fixie bar. A previously closed dinner theater was re-opened.

  21. #21
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    It sounds nice, but were the Portuguese OK with it?
    Yeah, I think the second or third generation have all gone hipster, plus the house prices are high, so the older ones who want to can sell, and spend winters in Portugal.

  22. #22
    Senior Member BadBoy10's Avatar
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    I use the train and bus quite often HOWEVER the biggest deterrent is not the lack of information (I use the mobile apps)---it is the failure to monitor the passengers.

    No, the conductors/drivers are not babysitters but signage should be posted ---"Hush and Enjoy the Ride!"

    It used to be peaceful riding the train/bus. I am in South Florida and yeah maybe my expectations are high ...why do I have to get on the train/bus and listen to:

    loud cell phone conversations (all languages not just English)--the rudeness is equal opportunity
    singing
    profanity
    loud talking and yelling


    Why can't people just get on the public use transpo, use it and shut up? I love the convenience and the price point but the wacky behavior is so indicative of our society. We are so afraid to say anything because of aggressive behavior and explosive spree killings and violent behavior. Now more than ever a lack of social etiquette=highly tolerated for fear of increased aggression.

    I am only child so perhaps my expectations of silence are far fetched.
    Read the entire thread...might help. Different spokes for different folks...stop being so blasted superficially sanctimonious. You dont know everything and are not perfect.

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BadBoy10 View Post
    I use the train and bus quite often HOWEVER the biggest deterrent is not the lack of information (I use the mobile apps)---it is the failure to monitor the passengers.

    No, the conductors/drivers are not babysitters but signage should be posted ---"Hush and Enjoy the Ride!"

    It used to be peaceful riding the train/bus. I am in South Florida and yeah maybe my expectations are high ...why do I have to get on the train/bus and listen to:

    loud cell phone conversations (all languages not just English)--the rudeness is equal opportunity
    singing
    profanity
    loud talking and yelling


    Why can't people just get on the public use transpo, use it and shut up? I love the convenience and the price point but the wacky behavior is so indicative of our society. We are so afraid to say anything because of aggressive behavior and explosive spree killings and violent behavior. Now more than ever a lack of social etiquette=highly tolerated for fear of increased aggression.

    I am only child so perhaps my expectations of silence are far fetched.
    Yeah, you can't really expect silence. Most people want to be able to talk and use phones on the bus. It's hard to rule on profanity, since it's a cultural thing. Same with singing.

    There is another thread on this topic, so maybe we should switch over to there.

    Why more people don't take the bus
    Last edited by Roody; 05-19-14 at 02:05 PM.


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