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Day 3: Of being “weak” without a car

By rmyers
Thursday, December 14th, 2006 at 10:15 am in Randy Myers.

Today I was busted.

A no-guff BART station agent at Pleasant Hill collared me for disobyeing the bike rules. I was guilty of taking the lazy way out and using the escalators instead of the stairs. I could plead ignorance, but that doesn’t fly when the rules are posted online.

Speaking of rules, I guess I should state the ones I cooked up for this Week Without a Car. It’s fairly straightforward: I can’t drive a car or hitch a ride to and from work. That means not stepping into a vehicle, even if it’s a stranger with some candy. Many coworkers have graciously offered to rescue me, and while that’s an attractive offer, it happens to be cheating. I’m not cheating. So far. Really. I’m not.

My mode of transporation must be bus, foot, ferry, BART, bike, maybe even hang-glider if I knew how to use one without inflicting injury on myself and others. The rule is I do the commute daily from my destination.

My commute isn’t a teeth-gnasher like the killer from, say, Byron to the City. I zip over from Berkeley to the business offices of Shadelands Drive, up Satan Valley Road in Walnut Creek. Generally, I’m here in 30 minutes, but the trek home requires more time and patience. Sometimes I lose that patience and yak on the phone. Observing the bad behavior of cellphone drivers these last few days, I’m not going to pick up the phone when I’m back in the car.

Why I’m doing this — especially during this ill-tempered but nevertheless non-blizzard-like weather — is because I’ve always wanted to, but kept on coming up with one lame excuse after another for not doing it.

Not only do I love the exercise and the possiblity of getting in better shape, I like the liberating feel I get from cutting the umbilical cord to a car.

I happen to be in that slim percentage of folks who can kick their vehicle to the curb more easily than others. I have no children who need to be shuttled to school, to soccer practice, to doctor’s appointments, to home. I’m reasonably healthy and am close enough to two BART stations.

Randy Myers arrives Thursday morningOther commuters face much more daunting ordeals and obstacles than I do. I continue to hear from or meet East Bay residents living or working on this side of the Caldecott Tunnel who have less ideal circumstances than mine.

Some have to travel by foot or bike. Others can choose to do it. I’m in the lucky camp of wanting to do it.

OK, enough of all that preachy stuff. Minus the reprimand at BART, today’s commute went of without a hitch. I woke up later than anticipated, having been broadsided at 9:30 last night with a migraine, complete with those flashing and squiggly lights. I don’t think I drank enough water yesterday. A wise man religously tells me that I always need to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Sage advice.

If anyone wants to break out their bike and do their own “Week Without a Car,” drop me a line. I’ve gotten some great tips from no-car commuters, so please keep ‘em coming.

If you’re just starting out, check out the East Bay Bicycle Coalition at www.ebbc.org or the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition at www.sfbike.org. Both contain awesome maps, tips, safety rules, clubs and other resources. Wish I would have gone a-Googlin’ from the start.

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