August 30, 2001

San Francisco Bicycle Coalition

My old website will be expiring soon. So I'm cutting and pasting some of the old posts from there and tossing them in here.

Rob was recently interviewed by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.
(see their version here)
Why did you join the SFBC? I felt like there were plenty of voices advocating the agenda of car drivers, but not much representation for bicyclists. The SFBC represents a clearminded, level-headed voice with actual suggestions for change. I think the SFBC has been careful not to overly indict car drivers, but instead to focus on helping bicyclists.
Also, bicycling is an important part of my life--the bicycle is not only an excellent means of transportation, but also a pragmatic application of my faith in Christ.

Tell me more about the connection between your faith and bicycling. In 1978, I experienced some profound changes in my life. I was becoming more aware of the degree to which we humans had damaged the lakes, rivers, oceans, land and air of this planet. I realized as I looked around me that everyone -- myself included -- was somewhat selfish and irresponsible int he stewardship of the resources that we have here on Earth.
That same year, I commenced a two-year long process of reading the Scriptures. The teachings, lifestyle, and claims of Jesus Christ impacted me profoundly. I came to believe that the lifestyle that Jesus called people to live was much more environmentally conscious than that which I saw around me in mainstream America.

Is that when you started using a bicycle for transportation? No, the shift was more gradual. At that point, I owned a small economy car. I was living in cities such as Houston, San Antonio, and Colorado Springs, and the idea of using a bicycle for transportation had never dawned on me; I didn't know anyone who used a bike for transportation, only recreation.
In 1989, I moved to the Bay Area. I was shocked at the volume of cars and traffic. Within a year of moving out to California, I gave up my car and bought a motorcycle. That was a big step towards realizing that transportation did not have to equal car ownership.

So how did you make the transition from a motorcycle to a bicycle? Eventually I moved into the Mission District. I started noticing all the bicyclists riding to the shops, locking their bikes outside the cafes and bookstores. It hit me one day... these people were really using their bikes as their transportation vehicles! I purchased a bike and gradually began to use it for trips to cafes. As time went on, I realized that I could use my bicycle for virtually all of my transportation needs around the city, and even -- by BART or Caltrain -- to other parts of the Bay Area.

How has bicycling in San Francisco influenced your faith? I have come to solidly believe that bicycling enables me to practically live out several Scriptural teachings:
* Stewardship. Using the bicycle has been far more environmentally and economically sound than the car or motorcycle;
Loving my neighbor as myself. Bicycling reduces the pollution I put into the air that others must breathe, and dramatically reduced the risk I pose to others -- especially pedestrians and other bicyclists -- as compared to driving a car.
* Consideration for the poor. A bicycle is a much more affordable form of transportation than a car. By using our bikes for transportation -- and communicating such usage -- I think bicyclists can send a collective message to the government that the car doesn't have go be accepted as the default form of individual-controlled transportation. We need a transportation system that accommodates everyone, even those who can't legally afford to own and operate a car;
* Consideration of others. Using my bike is a way to stem the current of "consideration degradation" that cars seem to foster. It's amazing to me the degree to which cars and their drivers degrade others' quality of life -- car alarms going off in the middle of the night, car horns at six in the morning, cars parked so thick on the sidewalk that you have to push the baby stroller on the street, cars blocking wheelchair ramps and bike lanes.

Anything else you'd like to add? My real challenge is to encourage other Christians I know to consider bicycling as making a lot of sense in light of Christ's teachings. This has been slow going, but there have been some successes. One of the pastors at my church recently joined the SFBC. He put some good street tires and a NightRider light on his old mountain bike, and he now uses it for much of his transportation around town. Maybe a sermon that mentions bicycling isn't too far behind....


  1. yup. rob used to bike him to preschool on his way to work.

    in fact, the only bike accident any of the kids has been in, involved nathan and a roller blader. the roller blader wasn't in control and rolled right through a red light and smack into nathan. rob was walking the bike across the intersection and missed getting hit. but the guy clipped nathan and the poor guy went down.

    the rather freaky thing was that we weren't able to find nathan's helmet that day. but i insisted that he have something on his head so i modified my helmet to fit. (thankfully he has a big head).

    so nothing got hurt. but he was a bit terrified of biking for a bit after that.

  2. i should add that that bike seat has served us well. once we moved to colorado nathan was a bit too big for the seat, but he fit into a trailer. but the largest trailer i've ever seen was only built for two. so i'd put nathan and one girl into the trailer and the other girl would go in the seat behind me.

    *sigh* those were the days. when i didn't have three kiddos each on their own bike, each setting their own pace, each weaving in and out of each other's way. we were all neatly contained in one nifty bike contraption.

  3. wow. that's great! I envy people that can do this! In our old house, we seldom used a car, as everything was in walking distance. And I loved it! Unfortunately, now, everything is just too spread out for me to even attempt that :(

    but the good news is, again, with Jason's better hours and more time home, he has been teaching Allie to ride a bike and she is almost there! Still a bit wobbly..but...pretty soon...

  4. when we moved to fort collins we specifically looked for neighborhoods (which basically meant "old town" here) where we could walk or ride to most places.

    during the school year i usually take the car out once a week to get groceries and anything else i might need. then the rest of the week we walk or bike to school and wherever else we need to go.

  5. I agree with Rob that part of the struggle is getting biking accepted and used as a means of transportation instead of merely recreation.

    Here in Holland, bicycles are accepted, and usually have their own lanes on the road :) A lot of people even bike from one city to another.

  6. Fort Collins is a pretty bikeable city. Still, people tend to use biking mainly for recreation. (And biking is BIG, BIG, BIG as recreation here. There are lots of mountain biking competitions, including some in which you have to carry your bike part of the way because the terrain is so difficult to cover. I suppose it's a college thing since this is a college town.)

    I've been impressed with the folks in my neighborhood, though. Many are good about biking as much as possible. Even if it means hooking up a tag-a-long to your bike to pull your older child and hooking up a trailer to the tag-a-long to pull the younger child.

  7. Conquering America, one town at a time :)

  8. Most of the Portland Metro has a bike lane. It just isnt realistic most of the time, though, because it is like 19 cities into one. It is common, due to the way things are poorly set up, for a family to live in one city yet work in an entirely different city. This was the major reason metro got the Max line installed. For those that do not know, the Max line is kind of like an above-ground subway that stretches west to east through the Portland Metro. They have bike holder thingies on it but not near enough.

  9. Rob used to work down in Fremont (which, for those who don't know, is a hell of a long way away from San Francisco). He'd bike to BART (Embarcadero BART -- not allowed to catch it any earlier because it would be too full for bikes to enter), BART down to Fremont, then bike from the BART station to work (another 20 - 30 minute ride). I think commuting used to take 2 hours each way. On rainy days he'd take his motorcycle instead and then it would only be 1 to 1 1/2 hours because he could cut the lains.

    As you can imagine he was thrilled to get a job in SF after that.

  10. when I looked at the date on this I was thinking gee Meg you've been on Multiply a loooooog time , then I realised its backdated isn't it as the comments aren't from 2001

    You used to blog a lot more didn't you ...I do realise why you don't have so much time now though

  11. i used to have a website that i wrote in maybe 4 or 5 times a year. it was a lot of work to set up the page (every time i wrote something new i thought to myself, "hmmm, i should change the look of my site." so it would take forever just to get something posted.

    i was thrilled when i came here and realized i could post all the time and i didn't have to do a lot of extra html work to do it.

    i also used to write a newsletter every 2 or 3 months and send it out to friends. (i had a mailing list of about 130). i used to cut and paste some of those articles into here (and vice versa). but i haven't been doing that lately. i did a DVD "newsletter" last year that ended with a plea for people to join here so they could keep up with me. very few did. so i'm essentially losing touch with those folks. i'm thinking of doing another, very short, newsletter soon, mostly to update people on how my dad is and to beg them again to come check out my site. :-P the stinkers!


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