Thursday, February 17, 2011

Imagine a Carless Tulsa

Check out this in depth research project done by OU-Tulsa Planning students. It examines the possibility of a car free downtown, Cherry Street, Riverside, etc.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Press: Tulsa Business Journal

Couple goes carless for 30 days
Nathan and KristinPickard are wrapping up a month-long cycling experiment.
by Holly Wall

Nathan and Kristin Pickard chose an unconventional way to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary. On Jan. 8, while most Tulsans were packing their cars with water bottles, flashlights and warm blankets — just in case the still-icy streets got the better of their vehicles — the Pickards planned the next 30 days of their lives without an automobile.
As chronicled on their blog,, the couple decided to spend a month without a car, using bicycles as their primary mode of transportation.
The plan came to fruition as the Pickards contemplated purchasing a membership to downtown’s new YMCA, at Fifth and Main Streets. The idea of driving to a gym to spend hours sweating on a stationary bike struck the couple as funny, and, rather than do that, they decided to challenge themselves to use vehicular cycling as a means of exercise.
It wasn’t an impractical feat. The couple resides in Brady Heights, just north of downtown on Denver Avenue, and Nathan Pickard, an internal auditor for the City, frequently bikes to City Hall. Kristin Pickard is a physician’s assistant at St. John Medical Center, at 21st Street and Utica Avenue, and less experienced at navigating city streets via bicycle, so Nathan Pickard escorts his wife to work daily and then rides back to City Hall.
The couple began their project Jan. 9 and will end it Feb. 9. Although it was 18 degrees and icy when they initiated their scheme, the Pickards said going carless has been easier than they imagined.
“The day we started, I didn’t know if we could keep it up if it was going to be that cold,” KristinPickard said. “But we made it OK at 18 degrees, and it’s been that much nicer since it’s warmed up.”
“I guess a lot of people probably think January’s an impossible month to do it and a reason not to, like, ever go without a car,” Nathan Pickard said. “So we wanted to see if it could actually be done all year ‘round, biking.”
Using the INCOG’s Web site as a guide, the couple familiarized themselves with Tulsa’s bike trails and Share the Road streets and planned a route that would keep them off main thoroughfares as much as possible.
“It’s a lot safer than you think,” Nathan Pickard said. “We actually do have a good system here in Tulsa.”
The couple said challenging themselves to go completely carless was integral to their plan to bike more often.
“I don’t think, if we hadn’t completely given up the car, we would have the discipline to do it,” Kristin Pickard said.
Blogging about their experience has served to inform others that, believe it or not, going carless in Tulsa can be done — sort of.
The couple has managed to do their grocery shopping, run minor errands and make it to church at 51st Street and Sheridan Road all on bike, but they’ve taken a break from restoring their historic home because, as Kristin Pickard said, “you can’t really carry two-by-fours on your bike.”
Still, they’ve considered what they’ve accomplished as proof that vehicular cycling is an option.
“We were really hoping to show that it is a transportation alternative in Tulsa,” Nathan Pickard said.
“Most people will say, ‘That’s a really cool idea. I could never do that,’” Kristin Pickard said. “I think they’re just too scared of biking in Tulsa. Either they live somewhere where it really is prohibitive, or they think the streets are too narrow or cars are too crazy, and they don’t think outside the box.”
The couple likely won’t continue to be completely carless following their project’s end. But they do think they’ll bike more often.
“Definitely anything less than four miles is really doable,” Kristin Pickard said.
“We’ve just been realizing we should have been biking to this event and this event because it’s so easy and enjoyable,” Nathan Pickard said. “Especially stuff downtown. Why’d we ever hop in a car?”

Press: Tulsa World

29 days without driving a car
Couple successfully completes challenge

By MATT GLEASON World Scene Writer
Published: 2/18/2010 2:25 AM

Nathan and Kristin Pickard parked their white Scion xB in the driveway of their downtown Tulsa home on north Denver Avenue, then left it there from Jan. 9 to Feb. 7.

It was a challenge for the 27-year-olds: Could they survive without a car during a month when snow fell, ice covered the roads and temperatures plunged?

Yes, it turns out, they could. And they could document it, too. The Pickards blogged about their experiences at

The challenge began as a way to avoid becoming cliches — the one that finds two young professionals driving miles to a gym, only to spend a half-hour riding stationary bikes.

Nathan Pickard didn't want that, so the internal auditor, who already rode his bike to work at City Hall, came up with the carless challenge. His plan included using saved gas money to pay for about $200 of warm clothing and bicycle gear. First, though, he had to convince his wife to join him.

Kristin Pickard is a physician's assistant at Oklahoma Oncology near St. John Medical Center. So, if she went along with her husband's idea, she would replace her eight-minute drive to work with a 25-minute bicycle ride. Nathan promised to escort his wife to work, and to meet her halfway for their ride home. Plus, they'd stick to riding on trails and through neighborhoods as much as possible.

Though Kristin initially figured the carless month was "maybe just a crazy idea," she couldn't really give her husband a valid excuse why they shouldn't do it.

Still, she had her reservations, which she blogged about a few days before the challenge began on Jan. 9.

"My hands and feet typically stay about 25 degrees below my body temperature anyway," she wrote, "so I'm not sure what is going to happen when I expose them to wind chills of -10 (degrees) while on a bike."

And she worried about how her ride to work would affect her appearance.

"Is my hair going to be all smushed down?" she wondered in the blog. "Am I going to have helmet hair? Is my makeup going to be all smudged from my face-mask?"

She finished that Jan. 7 blog post with a simple plea: "Cars. Please don't hit me. That's enough. I'm getting more nervous."

The first day of the challenge found the couple riding through patches of snow in 18-degree weather as they made a test ride to Oklahoma Oncology. It was cold and icy, but, as Kristin said, "We knew that if we did it in January, we could do it in any month."

Along the way, the couple didn't lose weight, but they put on more leg muscle. They also did their part to save the environment. Though Kristin said, "We're not fanatical environmental people, by any means." And her husband said, "We don't hook our bicycle up to our toaster, or anything."

Beyond the benefits of riding their bikes, a carless month offered a few obstacles, like how to carry their groceries home. But, eventually, Kristin Pickard realized she could stop by Petty's or the Med-X in Utica Square during lunchtime to buy a load of groceries small enough to fit in her backpack. Then her uncle provided an even better solution when he gave his niece a bicycle cart crafted from the remains of a wheelchair.

Looking back on the month, Nathan said, "We stayed under our grocery budget for the first time in several months." And his wife said, "You really focus on your consuming."

Often, family and friends came to the Pickards' house for visits, but the couple couldn't bring their church to them. So each Sunday morning, they started pedaling from downtown Tulsa at 8 a.m. to reach church near 51st Street and Harvard Avenue. They were sure to arrive early, so they could change clothes in the church bathroom.

By the final day of the challenge, Feb. 7, the couple had spent a month not only getting more exercise, but they also literally slowed down to enjoy the beauty of Tulsa and each other's company.

Nowadays, the couple occasionally rides to work. As far as giving up their car for another month, Nathan's already thinking about it.

"Naturally," he said, "I want to do it in August, which is the second-worst month of the year."

Will they blog about it?

A laughing Nathan sitting next to his wife at their dinner table said, "If I can convince her to do it."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

We are still alive...

Just in case you were concerned that maybe we'd been injured on our bikes.

I'm still riding my bike to work occasionallly. Not as often as I would like because of scheduling conflicts and rain and because I'm kind of a wimp. And sometimes just lazy. I don't like riding in the rain. (or tornadoes- that was my excuse the other day).

Nathan has been riding to work though. He's tough and doesn't melt in the rain.

This post is simply a public service announcement to encourage you to ride your own bike to work or school or anywhere. Bike-to-work week is celebrated next week! There's lots of cool stuff to do downtown before and after work. And it's free!

You know that Nathan and I won't miss the Cool Off party at Sound Pony. We'll definitely try to make it to the other events too. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I am a wimp...but it's really cold.

My absence here can be explained by shame.

Shamed that I haven't faithfully rode my bike everyday since our 30-day challenge ended like I thought I would. Shamed that I'm such a wimp when it comes to cold. Shamed that I'm lazy and don't like to get out of bed to exercise.

Fortunately, winter seems to be leaving us finally. And I couldn't be happier. Few things are more motivating than knowing that it may actually reach 50 degrees outside when it's time to go home from work. I can get out of bed for that. What I can't get out of bed for is a wind chill of 15 degrees. That's downright painful.

I'm trying not to feel too bad about that after I read this article:

This winter ties for fifth-coldest in Tulsa

By ALTHEA PETERSON World Staff Writer Published: 3/1/2010 10:48 PM

This winter tied for the fifth-lowest temperatures for the season on record for
Tulsa, a National Weather Service meteorologist said.With an average temperature
of 34.9 degrees, Tulsa’s winter tied with the 2000-01 winter season’s
temperatures on city records that date back to 1905.

Although the vernal equinox occurs March 20, winter is already over, according to National Weather Service standards. The Weather Service defines the winter season as running from Dec. 1 through Feb. 28.Mark Plate, a meteorologist for the Weather Service, said cloudy skies caused by El NiƱo, and a lot of storms, caused the cooler weather.“It’s mainly been caused by a lot of Arctic air coming down from the north,” he said.

In addition to lower-than-normal temperatures, Tulsa also had 17.1 inches of snow during the three-month span. The normal snowfall for Tulsa winters is 9 inches. Tulsa also recorded 6.27 inches of rain, closer to the seasonal normal of 5.71 inches, Plate said.

What does this cold winter mean for the rest of 2010?

Other than March, which Plate said should still have below-normal temperatures,
it will be hard to predict based on the winter season alone.“When you get a
pattern, it will last two to three months, but things can change," he said. "At
this point, it’s hard to predict that far into the future.”

Spring is just around the corner. I can't wait.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sometimes your blog thoughts end up in the local paper.

A big thanks to Matt Gleason for the excellent article in the Tulsa World today. We chatted with Matt last week and had a fun time talking about our adventures last month. He was a nice guy.

We took pictures with a Tulsa World photographer a few days ago at Centennial Park, one of our favorite places to ride past. It was cold, of course, as it has been for the past 45 days. (Why was I expecting anything different?) We basically rode back and forth on our bikes a few times while he snapped some pictures.

Contrary to what the picture displays, we do actually enjoy riding our bikes. Nathan doesn't usually look that serious in real life. He forgot to smile.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Day 30+4.

I was so proud of myself. We actually rode our bikes to work yesterday even though we weren't under some bizarre self-induced exercise torture/challenge. Yes, it was cold, arguably even bitter cold, in the morning but we stayed warm enough with an extra layer.

Now my advice to those of you who may be considering bike-commuting: If you happen to be like me- that is, a little on the lazy side when it comes to getting out of bed in the morning- it is best to make up your mind about riding the night before. Because if you are laying in a comfy bed under nice warm covers and know that it is several degrees below freezing outside, you basically have no chance of opting for the bike. The warm bed will always win in that argument.

Unless you have a spouse that loves to get up hours before the sun and is always in a great mood in the morning and is willing to pester you for at least 20 minutes to get out of bed and is always looking out for your best interest. Things actually get done around our house in the morning solely because of him.

I actually got some exercise yestereday only because of him. He's the greatest.


In other news, we are honored to be nominated for a 2009 Okie blog award in the catergory of Best New Blog of 2009. I've just been tickled pink at what has come from this crazy idea of Nathan's.

We've had such a great time both completing our adventure and sharing about it here. We've learned quite a bit about biking, commuting, buses,walking and blogging. One of our favorite parts has just been taking in all of the beautiful sights that Tulsa has to offer.

But I'll tell you my favorite part of this whole shin-dig: I've really enjoyed being with my husband. I've loved our bike rides home together, talking about the day and just unwinding. I think it has helped us feel more like a team, helping us to solve problems together and to accomplish a common goal. I think he's just the greatest husband any girl could ask for.

So if you are an Oklahoma blogger, head over the the Okie blog awards to cast your vote by Sunday. If you've enjoyed our blog, then vote for us.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Day 30+2: Reentering the automotive world

We drove to work the past two mornings. Yesterday because we were expecting up to 6 inches of snow during the day. Today we drove because it was just darn cold- 16 degrees.

I'm not going to lie- it was nice to be in a warm car. The sun was out today which would have made for a more pleasant ride but when the temperature dips below 20 degrees, bike riding can be plain painful. Mainly because my nose gets so stinking cold. cold nose= miserable ride.

I went to the grocery store after work. When you go to the grocery store with a car, you don't have to strategically plan what you need to buy. With a bike, you calculate the weight of the item along with the cost of the item. Then you see if there are any alternatives that would be lighter weight, cheaper and smaller. Space becomes a commodity. Typically, your grocery bill benefits from this planning.

Today, however, I found myself having to remember that I don't have to carry the potatoes or apples in my backpack and physically cart them home myself, making them a viable option for purchase. I bought laundry detergent without a worry and even 15 pound bags of dog food, a purchase we had been avoiding the whole month (my dogs have not been starved however- don't worry). All of this did not benefit my grocery bill, to my husband's dismay. Though secretly, he is glad to have all the food.

I tried to explain the exorbitant bill to Nathan. It went something along the lines of comparing myself to a post-Depression-era woman who is hoarding all the available food for fear that she may not be able to get it in the future.

He didn't really buy it. At least that's what he said as he enjoyed his favorite chips that I bought for him.

After two days of not riding my bike, I now feel kinda lazy. I'm ready for winter to make it's way north so I can have some nice days to ride.


Savings Summary

There is a great website for all kinds of alternative commuting: It matches you for carpools; tracks your biking, walking, busing; and then gives you a summary that tells you how great you are.

And according to them, we were pretty great last month. This is just my summary, Kristin's is still to come. So according to them I saved $200 bucks in car expenses.

Poll Results for "What keeps you from commuting by bicycle?"

Thanks for joining in the poll everyone. The question was "What keeps you from commuting by bicycle?" The answers were:

- 3 - Have to use car during work hours
- 9 - Live greater than 4 miles from work
- 2 - No place to clean up at work
- 3 - Too dangerous in Tulsa
- 4 - Would take too much time
- 0 - Can't balance
- 0 - Afraid of dogs and/or people on trails
- 1 - Too lazy
- 7 - Other

I would like to ask those who do bike to work how they deal with these challenges. I know one commenter who goes by Cap definitely lives more than 4 miles away from work. He has an interesting blog at and is clearly fearless about commuting by bicycle.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Day 30!

We did it! I can't believe it. We are done with 30 days!

This has likely been the craziest thing I've ever done in my life.

This and marrying my obviously equally crazy husband.

Of course, our last day fell on a Sunday which meant one more 20-mile round-trip ride to church. Fortunately we had a new toy to lighten our load. Well, at least lighten my load and maybe just add to Nathan's load.

I have this uncle. He tinkers. He was basically the king of recycling and reusing materials long before it was fashionable. He has saved many treasures from a long painful death in the junkyard. He recently made a bike trailer from an old wheelchair, a milk crate and some scrap metal. Impressive.
We loaded up the trailer with my backpack and Nathan's bag of clothes for church. It connects to the bike essentially the same way as a children's cart does. This time, Nathan took his road bike so he was able to carry the cargo load. It fit all of our stuff in there pretty snuggly.

We stopped for lunch at Whole Foods on the way home and bought some milk and bread.

Here is my mom helping me get my groceries into the trailer. And making sure I was warm enough. Thanks, Mom.

Now, I'll admit, we did get a few strange stares and did quite a bit of head-turning as people realized that we actually were pulling part of a wheelchair behind a bike.

We are grown-up about it though. We can handle it. Heck, people have been looking at us funny all month. And it doesn't even matter how many weird looks I get as long as I don't have to shove a container of milk into my backpack.

It was actually one of the first times I've ridden without a backpack. I now realize how much that was hurting my back. It was so much more enjoyable without it.

As we were getting closer to our destination this morning, I asked Nathan what he thought of it, pulling some extra weight and all. I expected him to say something like "Well, it slows me down some," or "My legs are hurting pretty bad." Instead, he says "I think this trailer helps to even us out pretty well." Meaning "You're pretty slow. So having this extra 30 pounds behind me at least gives you a fighting chance of keeping up with me."

I tried not to take it too personally.

We are pretty pleased with my uncle's cart. Our only modification right now will be to tape up some of the metal pieces since it clangs around a bit.

But we are finished with our 30-day experiment. And just in the nick of time. Another snow storm is rolling into town tonight with another 3-6 inches of snow. And cold- more cold.

We'll be writing a few more posts over the next couple of days, drawing some conclusions about our adventure. We'll also be giving our muscles of few days off. And hoping our car actually starts in the morning.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Day 28

No drizzling today. No long trains. No ice on the ground.

Not much sun either but you can't ask for everything. Overall, a much better day for riding than yesterday.

We didn't write anything about Wednesday's ride to work this week. In retrospect, there probably shouldn't have been a ride actually. We figured since most of the snow and ice was gone that it would be safe to ride.

We didn't factor in that the temperature was hovering slightly below freezing and the weather man was saying something about "freezing fog." Whatever that is, apparently it is kind of dangerous.

Our first clue that we probably should be walking to the bus instead of being on our bikes was when we encountered some ice on our own driveway. All that melted snow leaves water around and that water had froze in places overnight. We were pretty cautious the whole way there, making our trek longer than usual.

We were almost to my office and passing through a parking lot. Nathan was going up a little incline to get onto the sidewalk when we both realized he was riding on ice. Just as he stopped and started to get off, his bike slipped out from under him and took him with it. It is such an awful site to watch someone fall and not be able to do anything about it. He landed on his backside but fortunately didn't hit his head. He was able to get up alright and just complained of a little wrist pain afterward but that resolved.

That's my side of the story. Maybe he'll share his version another time.


Tonight we walked down to the Brady Arts District for the Brady Arts Crawl which happens on the first Friday of the month. We watched a glass blowing demonstration at the Tulsa Glassblowing Studio. We ventured down to Living Arts for the opening night of their modern quilting exhibit. Quite fascinating what someone can do with some fabric.

It was kind of chilly walking but we were pretty bundled up. We grabbed some food at Mexicali Cafe (where they might just have to best salsa in town). It felt good to walk a little after eating too much.

Rumor is that there are some big plans for the Brady Arts District which we are mostly excited about. Looks like it will make it a very walkable, bikeable community.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Day 27. Cold and wet

Wow, kind of a rough day.

At least it was above freezing. That's always nice when it's drizzling and cold. Freezing rain is painful.

And at least is was just drizzling. It could have been a steady rain that got us REALLY wet.

I'm trying to be optimistic here. It's a lot easy to do in hind sight while I'm sitting in a warm dry house. Much more difficult to be in a good mood when I'm riding in the cold and wet. And when my glasses are fogging up from the inside and are all wet on the outside.

And when you run into a long train.

Actually two trains. Can you see one behind the other there?
One was going at a pretty good speed.
The other, however, was not.

And of course, the slow train is the long train.

Nathan knows this is going to be bad.

And I mean the longest train in the. whole. world.
We could not see the end of it.
I didn't know trains could get this long.

We tried to find our way around it by going over a few streets and taking a bridge across the tracks. A plan that sounds good while you are sitting, waiting, watching a long train, and getting wet.

The plan however does not sound good when you are trying to get through a construction zone on a bike (The OneOk baseball field is looking great, though!) and trying to ride on a tight sidewalk up a hill with cars on one side and left-over snow on the other side, and then trying to navigate through heavy downtown traffic.

Needless to say, I don't think we gained any time with our "shortcut."

We both arrived later to work than we anticipated, a little wetter and little wiser.

Lesson learned: Don't try to go around a train, no matter how long, unless you have a very simple alternative path. Trust me.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Biking to Work Advantage #1

I'll be posting about my first bus experience soon, but until then I would like to share one of the little-known advantages of biking to work.

#1. I have kept some clothes at work, primarily pants, so I don't have to carry my whole outfit in my backpack everyday (fewer wrinkles, less weight in my bag). I have a few shirts here as well, mainly the ones I don't wear anywhere else. This comes in quite handy when you need a new pair of clothes during the day. Say, for instance, you spill coffee completely down the front of your cream-colored pants- then you have something different to change into, instead of being completely embarassed all day long with stains ALL over your pants.

You don't even want to see a picture with this one. It's embarassing.


Day 25: Bus day #2

I've never ridden a public bus before. ever.

I didn't even ride the school bus when I was a kid because I went to private school. And in high school, my sister drove me.

Therefore, I am somewhat frightened of buses- it is the Great Unknown.

Until this month- now I have conquered my fear of buses.

The ice and snow on the roads hadn't quite melted by Tuesday morning so we decided that we would again walk to the bus station and I would ride to work while Nathan walked five more blocks to his office.

Walking to downtown.

Monday was my first official bus ride though. I admit, I was nervous. After checking the bus number and times about 17 times, I was confident that I was boarding the correct bus. It was filled with all kinds of people from students to elderly working people and even a few homeless.

Thankfully the girl in front of me had demonstrated the proper way to pull the cord to request a stop then exit the back bus door. The bus dropped me off next to my office building just a few minutes after 8.

It was actually nice to relax and not worry about wrecking my car on a patch of ice (which I have done before, I'm capable). I was relieved to know that this trip on the bus was only going to cost me $1.50 with no risk of having to file an insurance claim or pay a deductible if I ran into someone else with my car.

Again, after checking the bus schedule 17 times, I boarded my bus to go home at 4:45. The bus was a few minutes late, causing me to be petrified that maybe I had missed it. (But I couldn't have missed it because I was at the bus stop about 13 minutes early- again scared that I would miss the bus and be stuck at work).
There's my bus...way down there. It's coming, eventually. The stop lights at 21st and Utica are painfully long and slow.

The bus was actually pretty crowded so I made my way to the back of the bus. I nearly slipped and fell as the bus driver was taking off combined with my wet boots and a slippery floor. The only seat available was one that had a litte bit of water on it, so I had to sit carefully.

I rode back to the downtown bus station where Nathan was waiting for me. We walked the mile home as he wrote about yesterday.

On Tuesday, my second ever bus day, our walk to the station was a little easier and faster since more snow had melted. We didn't have to dodge large piles of snow on the sidewalk. I boarded my bus without a problem. We had purchased a 10-ride pass at the bus station before the ice started, so I don't have to find change when I need to get on the bus- simply swipe my card. I have been surprised that some of the Tulsa Transit buses offer free Wi-Fi.

This day I was a little overly anxious about pulling the cord to request a stop. Usually the bus driver will stop after we go through an intersection to let someone off. I pulled the cord a tad early and that made the bus stop about a block and a half too soon. I felt like such an amateur. So I just got off the bus and started walking. I have so much to learn.

As we've mentioned before, one of the great things about not being in a car but rather going at a slower pace is that you notice details that you've never seen before.

I've passed this fountain a thousand times. It's beautiful especially at night.

But you know what I discovered today. It MOVES! Some of those metal pieces teeter back and forth with water on them! Who knew. I would never notice that just driving by because it moves too slowly.

A local businessman- also enjoying the fountain.

I've conquered my fear of buses.
The end.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Day 24 - 26 Degrees

A beautiful day for walking.

We started out at 7:15 and walked south on Denver for a mile to the Denver Avenue Bus Station. It was a nice walk and we made it just before Kristin's bus came.

We didn't like how the snow plows pile all the snow up on our sidewalks. That made it a bit difficult to walk quickly.

Kristin got on this bus and I walked a few more blocks to work.

On our mile walk home we noticed for the first time that the original building of the Borden Dairy had some art deco influences.

We also noticed one of Tulsa's most disturbing signs.

I have always liked the modern architecture represented by the county jail.

We talked to this young man on our walk home. He asked us if he was walking the right direction to make it to Vinita. I hope he finds a warm place to stay the night. He said it is hard to have to walk everywhere and Kristin asked him if he knew how far he was going to have to walk in order to get to Vinita. He said he did.

And when we got home there was a surprise waiting on our front porch.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Day 23

We decided to take the safe route to church. Instead of biking ten miles, we walked across the street to Centenary United Methodist. It was a hymn singing service because it was the fifth Sunday of the month (a tradition they have), and we took part in a potluck afterwards. Everyone was so friendly and kind. I think there were about twenty attending. It is a beautiful church in our neighborhood with an aging congregation but a wonderful pastor who always gives our neighborhood association whatever we need and is super helpful. Our neighborhood meets in one of their rooms every month.

The pastor said that our neighborhood association reminds him of what a church ought to be - a bunch of people meeting together and helping each other out and just taking care of one another. We do live in one of the greatest neighborhoods in America.

We also have one of the best websites in Tulsa.

I took this picture out of our upstairs bedroom window.

Day 22 - Study Day

Saturday was cold. Real cold. And just plain icy. As we've discussed before, bikes and ice just don't mix well. Cars and ice don't mix well either, so we felt justified in just staying home all day. It was a great chance to get caught up on cleaning, organizing, taxes, laundry, as well as sharpening my skills for the road.

Since the content is quite relevant now, I basically have devoured this book, Urban Bikers Tricks and Tip by Dave Glowacz. Nathan is the more seasoned biker around here so I've had some catching up to do.

I've learned some great tips about handling trouble I could encounter on the road.
Some are very practical:
- How to fix a flat tire. I learned that I can just patch a tire tube and not have to replace the whole tube if the hole is less than the size of a pinhole. Does that ever happen?
- The best way to lock my bike up so it doesn't get stolen. (one of my great fears in life)
- How to not get hit while riding next to cars. (Also one of my great fears in life)
- How to cross railroad tracks safely by going across them at a right angle.
- How to be visible while riding at night.
- How to rub a cut potato on your glasses to keep them from fogging up. (We tried this; it didn't seem to help)
- How to prevent helmet hair by #1) weaing a bandanna or scarf under your helmet or #2) getting a perm. No way on God's green earth am I going to get a perm.

Some information I will hopefully never have to use:
- How to ride up and down stairs. That sounds like a stupid idea.
- How to treat a bad scrape- by picking out any glass and debris then scrubbing it well. Yuck...
- How to dress for rain, cold and snow. Oh wait, I unfortunately already know how to do that.
- Managing to wear long dresses or skirts on your bike commute by tucking the bottom into a belt. Obviously, this book is written by a man. That's all I have to say.

He also has tips for the advanced or "sly" riders. I can't condone any of these.
- How to go through yellow lights
- How to "skitch" a ride from a vehicle by grabbing onto part of the car and letting it pull you up a hill or through wind. (Mom, I promise I won't ever do this)
- Handling conflict with motorists by throwing water in their face and hitting their windshield in a particular spot that would possibly shatter it. Also he describes how to run away from a car that is chasing you after you do those things.

So much information, so little time. I'm learning so much these days. Of course, the most ingrained lessons are those I'm learning from the School of Hard Knocks.
- Watch out for the asphalt chunks next to the potholes. Those will get'cha too.
- Always bike with someone who can change a flat. It's a long way home walking.
- There is an amazing difference between 20 degrees and 35 degrees. Either your fingers can fall off or not.


Poll Results for "Are you required to use your car at work?"

Thanks for joining in on the poll everyone. The question was, "Are you required to use your own car at work?" The answers were:

- 3 - "Yes, at least once a week."
- 4 - "Yes, at least three days a week."
- 3 - "Yes, never sure what day I will need it."
- 13 - "No, I would consider other forms of transportation."
- 3 - "No, but I want to drive to work anyway."

Out of 26 respondents, fifty percent are not required to use their car for work and would consider other forms of transportation. So my next question is, "What is keeping you from using a bicycle to commute to work?"

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Most Efficient form of Transportation

That would be... the bicycle. Just how efficient is it? Well, Robert Hurst has a whole section describing how they come up with the following calculation, but for time's sake let's cut to the chase:
Comparing gasoline's kilocalories to the range consumed in exercise, we find that a bicyclist could easily achieve the equivalent of one thousand miles per gallon, even at a relatively brisk pace.
So there it is - 1,000 miles per gallon. That is pretty darn efficient. The nice thing is that most of us, with our super sized meal portions, already consume enough energy to transport us to our daily destinations. So you really don't have to plan on upping your grocery budget. Our grocery budget panned out quite nicely for the month of January according to our month end financials (not yet audited).
Even when the Prius evolves into a fully electric plug-in green machine, weaned from the petroleum teat, driving it will still be inordinately consumptive of energy and tremendously inefficient compared to riding a bicycle. Conversely, the bicycle-and rider amplifies the human engine's power with levers and gears and wheels, while adding very little extra weight. Human legs that pack only a tiny fraction of the Prius's punch still have more than enough to move the bicycle-and-rider at speed.
He goes on to write that biking is four times as efficient as walking. I don't know if he is taking hills and wind into consideration on that one. I can actually visualize an efficiency gauge on our handlebars (like the gauge in a hybrid) plummeting as we are riding into that north wind.
Nothing--not commuter rail, biofuel buses, Prii, or pedestrians--can approach the efficiency of the bicycle. Bicycling stands completely above other transportation modes in that regard.
So next time you see that goofy little smart car, just remember that the smug little driver is not as smart as he or she might think. There is a smug little cyclist out there somewhere who is way smarter in the end.

Day 21 - Nate's Report

Last night we were feeling the cabin fever and needed to escape. We called up some of our favorite neighbors and they wanted to walk to the Brady District with us.

Brady Heights neighborhood is just north of downtown and is within walking distance to many great things like the Cains, John 3:16 Homeless Shelter, and the jail. Being close to the jail is really a benefit. You know how when you get booked for the night and they let you out at 2 am with no way to get a ride. Well, it sure helps if you can just lace up your walking shoes and take a little short walk to your nice warm bed. Everyone should live close to the jail in my opinion.

We walked south on Boulder under the I-244 overpass to the Brady District. It was unusually quiet. No shady business going on and not even very many cars traveling the highway above us.
As we were approaching Cains, we were surprised to see a whole lot of teenagers who still came to watch the Eli Young Band. There was a giant sea of plaid before us as far as the eye could see. We decided to patronize the Crystal Pistol Saloon next to Cains. It was quiet and cozy and they still have the cheapest Guinness in town.

Hunger struck at some point and there is a great place to get late night food - the Hunt Club Pub and Grub. If you have never been there, you should check it out. There are more dead animals on the walls than there are back in their kitchen, but the tasty ones are definitely back in their kitchen. It was nice to be able to walk home and not have to worry about destroying our car or someone else's. We just had to make sure we didn't twist an ankle or get attacked by the abominable snowman.

- Nate

Friday, January 29, 2010

Day 21- Walking

Some days you are just so much more grateful for the little things in life- like electricity. I was so relieved to wake up and still see that my cell phone was charging. Despite our ice-covered power lines, we still have power. It was beautiful.

Thankfully, neither Nathan or I had to go to work today. Our friend Casey who has been solely biking for over a year now says that the physics of biking are not compatible with ice. At least that's what I heard- Nathan doesn't remember that. I think that is at least true if you don't have studs on your tires.

Either way, it's not too safe out there in the roads whether you are in a car or on a bike, so we stayed in for the day, except for a little trip down the street to Nathan's brother's house. We bundled up for the five block walk and were glad that we had our rain-proof biking pants to wear in the snow.

There is at least a quarter inch of ice on everything and snow was falling. It was amazingly quiet on our typically busy street. A great day for walking.

It's so nice to have winter weather that's not incredibly destructive.

It didn't look nearly as bad as the ice storm two years ago.
I'm afraid our little car is feeling neglected. We don't feel sorry for it though.
Nathan is practically waterproof.

And I'm thankful for a day to rest my muscles. They were getting pretty weary.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Day 20

We woke up this morning prepared for the worst but, as Nathan said, "it was as dry as a bone." No rain, no sleet, no freezing rain and no snow. We were completely ready to take the bus to work. But the cloudless sky was just begging us to ride our bikes into work. How could we not continue on this crazy challenge of ours if the weather was perfectly fine out there now?

At least that's what Nathan said.

I, on the other hand, I was thinking that surely just as soon as I popped my head out the door, the freezing rain would start.

I was also thinking how great it would be just to stay in bed all morning. But I knew that sadly wasn't an option.

The radar was completely clear and the precipitation wouldn't be around for another few hours. So we packed up and headed out, but not without an extra layer. I arrived at work a little late and actually a little hot from the extra layer.

The rain/sleet/freezing rain started slowly about noon. I was planning on taking the bus home but was able to leave while the rain wasn't too heavy. And because I have the best boss in the world, I was able to head home after I had finished all my work for the day. Fortunately, no one else wanted to come in for a doctor's appointment after the rain started. So I packed up and left about 12:45. But this time without my extra layer, which I would later regret.

As I have been learning this month, there is a first time for everything.
- First time to ride in rain
- First time to ride more than 10 miles
- First time to balance three bags of groceries on my handlebars
- First time to hit a piece of asphalt in the dark and fall on your bike and be bruised for two weeks (yes, large bruise on my leg is still very much there)

- First time to accumulate freezing rain on your gloves

- First time to freeze a helmet but still remain amazingly dry.

- First time to think that I really might be just a little bit crazy. My husband, however, is truly crazy- I have no doubt about that. This was all his idea.

But we are now home safe and sound and hopefully not leaving for some time. The ice is beginning to accumulate on the trees and streets and, unfortunately, powerlines. Just another one of life's adventures.


Health Benefits of Biking Outweigh the Risks

Cycling provides efficient transportation while giving us exercise that is critical to human health. In The Cyclist's Manifesto, Robert Hurst writes that even when accounting for the extra danger of cycling as opposed to driving, the bicycle is still safer than a sedentary lifestyle.
A British researcher, Mayer Hillman, found the health benefits of bicycling to outweigh the much celebrated risks by twenty to one. Researchers studying a group of factory workers found that the regular bicyclists among them were as fit, on average, as non-bicycling factory workers who were ten years younger. What it comes down to is this: If you exercise, you're much less likely to get some horrible disease or have a heart attack and die. And bicycling is good exercise.
Kristin and I have exercised more over the last 20 days than we have in the past 6 months. We tried many different ways to get exercise, but we never stuck with any of them because they were outside the norm of our everyday lives. Exercising for a purpose makes a huge difference. Compare riding a bike on a dinner outing with running on a treadmill and going nowhere.

Hurst makes the argument that exercise also helps mental health. He quotes from Dr. Paul Dudley White, who cared for President Ike after his heart attack.
Physical fitness includes the health of the brain... physical labor is one of the best antidotes, perhaps the best, for emotional stress or mental fatigue.
So all you basket-cases out there can go to your local bike shop and find a little freedom from what ails you. I know several people who say that if they don't get any exercise during the week, depression is sure to follow so I guess this doc is right.

In conclusion, Hurst says,
The consequences of not exercising are far more dire than the consequences of bicycling in traffic. America has been going downhill. The citizens are working harder and longer, and off hours are more likely to be spent in front of a television or computer screen, scarfing Cheetos. Obesity is epidemic. Spare tires have grown in an inverse relationship to spare time. This presents a dilemma, but thankfully one with an easy solution. If you need to exercise, and you need to get around, why not do both at the same time.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Day 19. 11 possibly very cold days left

Did we say 30 consecutive days?

I don't remember writing that anywhere on this blog.

If there is anything that may put a little damper on this 30 day challenge, it would be The Ice Storm of 2010. There are no weeks of my life more embedded in my mind than the Ice Storm of 2007. And none that I would like more to forget than that week.

But just so we won't forget, here's a few reminders.

This is not supposed to look like a Christmas tree. It's supposed to look like an oak tree.
Plants are resilient though. These little suckers actually popped back up and did great the next year.
Everything. covered. in. ice.

No damage to the old rusty truck. That tree just tore everything else up including the neighbors power line. And that is our power line at the top of the picture- not where it should be.

Apparently, there is something called the Ice Index and Tulsa is going to be in the "4" zone tomorrow and Friday. That's 4 out of 5. Keep in mind that 5 is the black zone, meaning you're-not-going-anywhere, you-have-no-power-for- 2-weeks.

I promise if we have to drive our car to save our lives anytime in the next 5 days, we'll tack that day on the the end of the challenge. Deal? I haven't run this by Nathan but I'm sure he'll understand.

Any advise from all you seasoned commuters?


Day 18- Am I crazy?

That's the question I've been asking myself over the past 24 hours.

Thursday, January 28
Tulsa, OK
Hi: 27
Lo: 34
Sunrise: 7:28 AM Sunset: 5:45 PM
A major winter storm is possible with significant accumulating ice and snow. Temperatures will fall into the 20s by Thursday afternoon/evening and lower 20s Thursday night. Wintry precipitation is possible Thursday through the evening/overnight hours. Significant travel problems will likely occur from late Thursday through the day Friday.
Wind: NE 15-25 mph
Friday, January 29
Tulsa, OK
Hi: 24
Lo: 20
Sunrise: 7:27 AM Sunset: 5:46 PM
Snow likely during the morning hours before ending from west to east late in the day. Gusty northerly winds, wind chill values likely in the single digits.

What the heck have I got myself into?

Ironically, I absolutely hate the cold. As mentioned before, my hands basically reach frigid temperatures for most of the winter months. Ask my patients- they hate it too. And funny enough, sometimes on our bike ride, my hands become warmer than they have been all day inside.

In preparation, we will probably be taking the bus when the winter storm rolls through to see if we can actually go carless for a month.

That is, if I can figure out how to read a bus map.

Have you ever looked at one of those things? It took me 15 minutes to figure out which buses to take and another 15 minutes to figure out what time to be there. Not that it is that difficult but it just takes quite a bit of concentration.

I have a Master's degree and figuring out my bus schedule almost got the best of me. Not for the faint of heart, folks.

Today, we rewarded ourselves for making it this far in our challenge by again stopping by Sound Pony, the local bar just a few blocks from our house and on our path home. We enjoyed their Happy Hour specials which includes free hot dogs. Mmm, nothing like a free hot dog to finish out a nice healthy day of bikeriding.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Bicycle is Loaded - Filed under the big L

Robert Hurst said that the bicycle has always been associated with different causes.
At various times the bicycle has been intimately associated with women's liberation, white power, political sneakiness, Asian communism, sabotage and spying and other rebel mischief, the Viet Cong, European socialism, illegal immigrants, serial drunk drivers, anarchy, privilege, anti-car fanaticism, and multiple manifestations of youthful antiestablishment activism. The mishmash of historical symbolism is now woven into the collective subconscious of the nation. The bicycle is loaded.
He also says it tends to carry the big L for "liberal, leftist, loon".
...bicycling is in fact the most conservative of all vehicles--using one man's definition of conservative anyway... In transportation, there's nothing more conservative than traveling under your own power. This is the transportation version of living within one's means, the guiding directive of the fiscal conservative.
The interesting problem is that every time we brand the bicycle, Hurst says some segment will become alienated from it.
Every time bicycling becomes associated with another cause, whether it be legit or wacko, right or left, more people are alienated from it than attracted to it.
So that is why Kristin and I are here to blog about biking. We are none of the things listed in the first quote. We are just a young couple that wants an enjoyable and peaceful way to get places that keeps us healthy and having fun. We are not extreme people, just the couple next door that is tired of sitting around all the time and the bike seemed like a good out.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Day 17- Figuring out grocery shopping

Recently, my uncle passed this idea on to us about how to transport groceries. Nathan is trying to work out the logistics of how we could manufacture this bike, but we are just not sure it's going to work out.

We would probably have to steal a grocery cart somehow. Steering might also be a challenge.

Instead we borrowed a buggy for transporting kids.

It didn't attach well to Nathan's bike so I got the privilege.

We headed over to Braum's to stock up on groceries since it's gonna get cold soon. Real cold.

We didn't hold back.

I started to get nervous about my job of taking all these things home. Milk is heavy...

It fit! Five bags of groceries!! All in that cute little cart.

Needless to say, it was heavy. We didn't choose the easiest route home but it was probably the safest. Owen Park neighborhood has some pretty steep hills. And we were tired. I tried to start up it and I gave it a good effort but ultimately, the hill won. We walked up. But Nathan was sweet, of course, and he walked my bike with the load of groceries up the hill, while I walked his bike.

My legs are rebelling now from the work they had to do. I'm afraid they may not cooperate tomorrow.

But rest assured, we will not starve to death if ice and snow and another arctic front comes through.

A kids's trailer may be the best option for cargo loads. Cars seem to be a bit more careful around us, thinking we are actually carrying children. Nathan was a bit worried someone would call DHS on us for taking kids out in the freezing cold. One man walking commented, "That's a good way to put your kids to sleep." We didn't tell him it was just groceries. Hopefully he doesn't put his kids in a refrigerator to get them to sleep.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Day 16

Holy cow- North wind. I hate you.

And I love you too because you pushed me all the way to church this morning. But you made my ride home absolutely miserable.

I actually had to pedal down some hills because the wind gusts were so strong. Ridiculous.

I'll be honest- not to discourage anyone from riding or attempting to commute on a bike- but riding into the wind felt like I was torturing myself. Plus the fact that my legs were still pretty darn tired even after a decent rest yesterday. I secretly had thoughts that I might never get on a bike after this month was over, but those were fleeting. It was a sunny day and that helped the pain a little bit.

Nathan was so encouraging and tried so hard to get my mind off how hard it was to come home. You should be jealous because I have the best husband in the whole world. The other day he said that one of his favorite things about this 30 day challenge is being able to spend some quality time with his wife. Isn't that the sweetest thing you've ever heard?


Day 15 - Cycling to Elote

Last night, we met some of our best friends at the local Fresh-Mex restaurant Elote. Elote has some of the freshest local sourced food in town and has a great downtown restaurant atmosphere. It reminds me of the little restaurants in Seattle.

We came in with all our bike gear. It was a little strange to have all our gear for just a little ride downtown, but we are both a little paranoid about flat tires so we bring a pump and tools and tubes with us wherever we go.

Our waiter was a very nice guy who noticed our cycling gear and we got to talking and found out that he bikes to work at Elote from 51st and Peoria. No short ride. We also found out that he is good friends with Casey. We met with Casey as we were gearing up for our little adventure. He was a friend of some friends and he has been carless for a year and a half. It really helped to talk to him and to be reassured that normal people can bike through Tulsa's winters.