Single Car Families on the Rise?

Photo © New York Times

It looks like we might be part of a growing trend. According to a recent story in the New York Times, there appears to be an increasing number of families that are limiting themselves to a single car. The article states that these new one-car families are motivated by high gas prices, costs associated with owning a second car, and concern for the environment.

From the article:

But there are signs of change. Brian Gluckman, a spokesman for, a leading automotive Web site, said more buyers were moving to one car.

Until the last three months, Mr. Gluckman said, that car tended to be a midsize S.U.V. or crossovers. He said’s more recent data showed buyers shifting toward smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Robert Sinclair Jr., a spokesman for the New York regional chapter of AAA, agrees that “we are witnessing a major sea change in both the types and number of vehicles on the road.”

The couples interviewed in the article discuss some of the complications associated with running a household, ferrying kids, and getting to-and-from work while sharing one car. Besides ride-sharing, some are using transit as well as walking and cycling to make it all work.

“We bike, car-pool, walk or take a cab if we don’t have access to the car,” Ms. Willis said. In a pinch, she relies on her brother who lives nearby, and they rent a car a couple of times a year.

We’re using a similar mix of modes including cycling, walking, transit, and driving. We’re also more carefully organizing our schedules to avoid “double-booking” the car for times when it’s required.

Read the full article

Princeton Tec Swerve

Princeton Tec has a new tail light dubbed the “Swerve” that is designed to compete with the popular Planet Bike Superflash. It features two high-powered LEDs (one with a diffused beam, the other with a focused beam), and two modes (one steady and one flash). It comes with a versatile mount that works on a fork, handlebar, seatstay, or seatpost, and it has a built-in clip for mounting on a helmet, jersey, or seat bag.

The Swerve, with its pair of 0.5 watt LEDS, should be brighter than the Superflash. I’ve seen side-by-side video beam shots comparing the two and it appears the baseline output of the Swerve may be brighter, but the strobe flash of the Superflash is definitely more eye-catching and intense. It just goes to show that there’s more to a light than numbers on a spec sheet. I was planning on picking up a Swerve, but after seeing the beam shots, I think I’ll stick with my Superflash for now. At $24.95 the Swerve is a great deal and a viable alternative, but it doesn’t look like Planet Bike has too much to worry about quite yet.

Cracker Jacks

When I was a kid, the best thing about Cracker Jacks was the anticipation of finding the “Toy Surprise Inside”. I loved digging down in the box and ripping open the little envelope that contained the prize. Of course, the prize itself was usually a disappointment, but it never kept me from wanting another box when we went to the ball diamond the following weekend.

Panda Portraits are a little like Cracker Jacks. If you’re not familiar with Panda Portraits, they’re self portraits taken while riding a bike. Taking a Panda Portrait is pretty simple. If you have a camera that allows you to manually set the shutter speed, set it to around 1/25-1/30 of a second so the background blurs, then while you’re riding along, take a large number of shots of yourself and/or the bike from different angles. Of course, because you’re holding the camera away from you, it’s impossible to know what you’re capturing. That’s where the “Toy Surprise Inside” idea comes in. The anticipation of whether you’ve captured any good photos is like that old feeling of digging through a box of Cracker Jacks. Typically, most of the photos are completely blurred or framed poorly or show some other defect, but once in a while everything comes together and a real gem pops out. With some practice you eventually figure out what works and your keeper-to-reject ratio improves.

Here are a few Panda Portraits from this morning’s ride.

Ernabella Arts LHT

This one-of-a-kind Surly LHT was recently auctioned on E-Bay to raise funds for a school for indigenous youth in Australia:

The sale item is a brand new Surly Long Haul Trucker size large (58cm – see the full specifications The frame has been hand painted by Aboriginal artists from Ernabella Arts Inc and has been clear coated to protect the artwork.

The funds raised from the sale of the bicycle will go towards support Indigenous youth at the Djarragun College, south of Cairns in far North Queensland.

The fundraiser was the brainchild of Australian bike distributor Dirt Works.

A Bad Rap

One of our friends from the blogosphere seems to be under the impression that we’ve given up on recumbents altogether, but nothing could be further from the truth. To prove it, here’s a photo of our Screamer tandem, our #1 touring and country-road-cruising ride. It’s still the greatest vehicle ever made for bringing out the best in a relationship (or the worst, depending upon who you talk to… LOL). It’s not much of a city bike, but we’re saving it for the day we’re able to take a tour up the coast or do some island hopping in the San Juans. In the meantime, we dust it off now-and-again and take a cruise just to make sure we haven’t forgotten how to ride it. It’s a wonderful machine.

No Respect

Britain’s Conservative Party leader David Cameron is a bicycle advocate and regular bike commuter. According to the NYT’s LEDE blog, one evening recently, while riding home from work, he stopped at a local grocery store to pick up some things for dinner and while he was in the store his bike was stolen. Apparently he needs to work on his bike locking technique:

According to a witness quoted by The Evening Standard, “a couple of kids hanging around” quickly saw their opportunity. In a swift motion, they demonstrated how Mr. Cameron’s bike-locking skills fall far short of his political prowess. “They just picked it up and ran off,” the witness said, referring to the bike and the chain.

Mr. Cameron was reportedly quite upset at “losing an old friend“:

If anyone has seen it I would very much like it back. To me it was absolutely priceless.

It appears that when it comes to thieves, political power has little pull. Let’s hope he gets his beloved bike back in good condition.

[via Streetsblog]

My Family Car is an SUB

In his piece titled My family car is an SUB and I love it, columnist Mark Benjamin describes how he “kicks carbon’s @ss” with his new FreeRadicaled RockHopper.

Read the full article

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