Bicycle Fixation Weblog

Home » Archives » December 2006 » Auroville--a New Car-Free Development in India

Monday, December 25th
Auroville--a New Car-Free Development in India
Just received notice of this evolving car-free city in India. To quote architect-planner Lalit Kishor Bhati of Auroville:
We have about 2000 people from over 40 countries living here. It is interesting to observe that with such a small population base what all inspiring, innovative sustainable development works have been done and is being done.
As their website notes:
Cars and other motorised vehicles are the cause of serious environmental, social and aesthetic problems. Among other things, they kill street life, foster urban sprawl, contribute to noise and air pollution, and are inefficient users of scarce energy resources.

Better alternatives are available....
The project has been growing and developing since 1968, with an emphasis on progressive sustainability. It bears watching, especially since the United States has been mostly sitting on its hands when it comes to nurturing sustainable and neighborly communities. Read more at

And here's a direct link to their page concerning access & mobility.

Richard Risemberg on Mon, 25 Dec 2006 11:28:19 -0800 [link]  

Saturday, December 23rd
Almost There....
Those of you suffering Knicker Deprivation, take heart! The last few buttons are being sewn on even as I type, and we'll begin delivering orders next week.

I was hoping it would happen a bit sooner, but if nothing else I've learned not to schedule production runs in December. There will be another production run in mid-January, so those of you who don't get your knickers next week won't have long to wait.

No longer than I will, at least: since the first run's nearly sold out, I won't have a pair for myself till then! That's what I get for having the median waist size....

New product development begins in January too: knicker variations, the James Black Hat, a dressy bike jersey, printed T-shirts, maybe long pants too. Keep an eye on us. We're gonna make bicycle commuting (and commuters) irresistible!

Richard Risemberg on Sat, 23 Dec 2006 08:38:18 -0800 [link]  

Saturday, December 16th
In Stitches....
I spoke to the sewing factory yesterday, and they are humming along on the Knicker Project, they said. They wouldn't commit to a finish date, but they strongly implied I'd have knickers in hand by the weekend of the 23rd, maybe sooner, if all went well. So I'm going to start addressing labels and hope for the best. (Packages will go Priority Mail for domestic shipment, and that's pretty quick.)

So those of you who have ordered knickers, you may expect them before the end of the year--unless I run out of your color and size, and you ordered late; but in that case I'll still have them to you by early February.

And if you have no idea what this posting is about, let me tell you that elegance is returning to the bicycle rider, and soon you won't have to look like a slob or a geek when you ride your bike to work or the store or a night out or a friend's house, because the Classic Wool Knickers are coming!

Richard Risemberg on Sat, 16 Dec 2006 17:10:56 -0800 [link]  

Saturday, December 9th
China's Car-Free Day
After reflexively and thoughtlessly turning to the private atuomobile as a symbol of "modernity," China--the 750-pound gorilla of global warming (second only to the US, the official 800-pound gorilla)--is embracing the concpet of the Car-Free Day in order to fend off, if it can, its own growing addiction to oil- and land-wasting auto transport.
Shanghai will join more than 70 cities across China next year to promote a no-car day and encourage commuters to use cleaner forms of transport.

China has set aside the week of Sept. 16-22, 2007 as its first public transport week. And on the final day, private car owners will be asked to leave their vehicles at home and ride bikes, use mass transit or walk to work, school and shopping, Qiu Baoxing, deputy minister of construction, told a national meeting in Beijing on Saturday.

If all private cars stayed off the streets for 24 hours, China would save 33 million liters of gasoline, reduce urban pollution by 90 percent and prevent an untold number of deaths and injuries from traffic accidents, authorities said.
A nearly pathetic effort by the former Kingdom of the Bicycle, now a mere velocipedal principality next to tiny but rich (in both cash and civility) bicycling cultures such as Denmark and Holland, but it's an important step.

To read more about China's Car-Free Day, see China View.

To learn more about carfree living, with or without bikes, I recommend Carfree Cities.

Richard Risemberg on Sat, 09 Dec 2006 14:43:34 -0800 [link]  

Friday, December 8th
Another Killer Excused....
In another instance of automobilism über alles, Jennifer Stark of Urbana, Illinois, received a "sentence" of unsupervised probation and a $1,000 fine for killing bicyclist Matthew Wilhelm recently. Stark had been convicted twice of speeding and once of running a red light in the previous year and a half. From the News-Gazette:
The 25-year-old former Champaign resident, a University of Illinois mechanical engineering graduate working for Caterpillar in Peoria, [Wilhelm] died on Sept. 8 from head injuries he received Sept. 2 when Stark hit him with her car because she was downloading ring tones to her cell phone instead of paying attention to driving.

Mr. Wilhelm was bicycling north on Illinois 130 east of Urbana when he was struck from behind about 7:15 p.m. Stark was so far off the road that she hit Mr. Wilhelm from behind with the driver's side of her car. He was wearing a helmet.
Matthew's mother noted that prosecutor Julia Rietz "said it would be hard to prosecute 'willful and wanton' (behavior) and the driver could have 'no reasonable expectation of a bike on the side of the road,' yet every single time we visited the accident site we saw bikers and joggers in the area."

The arrogance of false entitlement in cagers is boundless , it seems. Hell, they can destroy the entire planet for their convenience, indulge in wars, prop up dictators, why not kill a few non-drivers when they get in the way?

I myself had to take extreme evasive action this morning to avoid being creamed by a left-turning bimbo with a cellphone jammed in her ear, and I have narrowly avoided two other accidents in the last couple of months with SUVs whose cell-phone-blithering imbecile drivers barreled into left turns without even slowing down; both those latter would have been most likely fatal, and one narrowly missed my wife who was riding behind me. Fortunately today's idiot did not get a running start into the intersection.

Drivers suck up torrents of public money while fancying themselves "free" and "independent" as they sit in traffic on those wide roads and ramps that return no property tax to the community, and deride those who take care of what's left of the world for them.

Obsessive automobilism is an aggressive and dangerous disease.

Delanoe, the mayor of Paris, recently noted that drivers make up one-quarter of his city's road users but take up 95% of road space. Not to mention what they take up of lung space! In the US, automotive infrastructure covers up to 70% of the land surface of many cities, and more in the west. Most cities here have grown larger even while losing population; all that growth is supported by a mandated subsidy of car use, and by the death and disease and social fragmentation it brings about.

How much road space do bikes need? How many people do they crush or ram or poison?

How dare they treat our lives so lightly, on the road or in court....

Richard Risemberg on Fri, 08 Dec 2006 20:22:15 -0800 [link]  

Thursday, December 7th
A Small Step for a Big Company
Looks like UPS, which started back in 1907 and apparently employed a good number of bicycles for delivery, is experiencing the best kind of déja vue: they are employing a number of mountain bikes pulling trailers in certain areas to handle the extra burden of holiday shipping.

A Vermont publication called Seven Days has written them up in Brown Goes Green--on Mountain Bikes.

For a more thorough examination of the vast possibilities of the bicycle trailer, see a couple of articles from our archives:

Trailer Treasure and Very Special Delivery

Richard Risemberg on Thu, 07 Dec 2006 20:35:53 -0800 [link]  

Tuesday, December 5th
Cuttin' the Wool
Yeah, I pedaled downtown this morning to load the last two rolls of wool we needed for the Classic Wool Knickers into my panniers...and boy did the little fixie handle differently with 50 pounds of sheep hair over the back axle! But she got the job done; the cutting begins today, and the sewing around the end of the week.

Unfortunately, I had to buy imported wool (though of a slightly finer grade) for the last few charcoal gray knickers. I have no problem with foreigners making a living; we're all foreigners to someone else, we're all humans together. I'm not so keen on saving money by exploiting someone else's poverty, or their governments' willingness to trash the earth. Let's face it; most manufacturing is exported not to benefit the struggling masses yearning to make a buck in other countries, but to take advantage of lax labor and environmental laws...all of which will come back to us in the end. We really are all in this together.

As investment counselor Bud Conrad wrote recently about outsourcing:
The other side of the trade deficit is that foreign cheap labor has replaced manufacturing in the U.S., hollowing out our lower and middle class incomes. [...] The expanding trade deficit matches the decreasing U.S. manufacturing jobs. This is exactly as expected, but it is not good for the long-term economic strength of the U.S.

The destruction of productive capacity will decrease our long-term wealth creation. With U.S. production decline, there is less need for investment in that productive capacity. Investment, which is the basis for future growth, has moved to Asia. U.S. corporations seeking to increase profits by cutting costs actively supported these moves. That means less wealth for the U.S. because we are not producing as much. The economy will weaken because we are not paying our workers to make the things we import, so they will have less to spend. Foreigners have put off the problem in the short term by lending us the money to buy their exports and maintain our lifestyle. But this can only continue until foreigners fear that they may lose by holding too many dollar investments that start to decrease in purchasing value.

His goal is to promote investment in the precious metals commodities he brokers. Mine is to keep people working here so that instead of degrading ourselves to a 3rd World economy so a few rich folks can get richer, we re-invigorate the vanishing middle class--the class that makes a country prosperous.

Neighbors buying from neighbors, goods made locally and cleanly and never carried far on fossil ideal we can make real.

There will always be things to buy from abroad, be it cheese or wine or Campagnolo or Toei or Maxway. But if we don't make things too, we won't be buying from anyone, here or there, and all will sink, leaving the musty dregs of shattered economies and landscapes.

So I might have to raise my price a wee little bit next year, just a bit. But I'd like to keep the materials as well as the labor in the Bicycle Fixation products as local as possible.

Still, just yesterday I bought a Tubus Fly rear rack from Germany. So the wealth will get around. Just got to try to spread it evenly.

And three sets of knickers will be going, ironically, to new Zealand, land of wool!

Richard Risemberg on Tue, 05 Dec 2006 12:12:31 -0800 [link]  

Sunday, December 3rd
The Knickers Are Finally on Sale
All right, folks, I've been blithering and blathering about them for weeks now, and here they are...the Bicycle Fixation Classic Wool Knickers!

Well, not literally here, as production doesn't actually start for a day or two, but they are available for purchase, and we have nice new pictures of the actual final version up on the purchase page now.

So if you're a transportational bicyclist, and want something to wear that doesn't make you look like a nylon sausage, a slob, or a rolling billboard, click on the link below and do your part to bring elegance back to bicycling:

Bicycle Fixation's Classic Wool Knickers

Coming next year, if all goes well: knicker socks, hemp knickers, and our own dressy wool jersey.

Richard Risemberg on Sun, 03 Dec 2006 08:51:09 -0800 [link]  

Search the Blog Archives

Browse the Archives

Environmental Activism Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory

A Few Good Blogs....

Kent Peterson
LADOT Bike Blog
Lovely Bicycle!
Saddle Americana