Car Free Mondays

Apparently I have invented a concept: search Google for car free Mondays and, so far, there are no results. Until now!

I woke up this morning with a 9:00 a.m. meeting on my calendar, about a mile away from my house. Usually, I am ashamed to say, attending meetings like this would entail waiting until five minutes before the scheduled time, hopping in my car, and hot tailing it 5 blocks west.

This morning, though, with visions of greenhouse gas emissions dancing in my head, I decided to extract the oft-unused bicycle from the mud room and leave the car at home.

After my meeting, I had a pleasant ride home, with a stop at Timothy’s for some work and an iced mocha cappucino.

After lunch, I got 4 or 5 hours worth of work done, and then realized suddenly that I should rush out to Future Shop to buy a wireless router to feed my neighbours.

Again, usually this would entail about a 4 minute car ride each way, but “Car Free Mondays” now planted firmly in my head, I decided to get the bike out again.

This being a much longer trip than my aging body is used to — and one that entails several minor league hills (some might say “rises”) — I quickly arranged with Steven to make an impromptu visit to the slicedome. This would afford me both the opportunity to tour their empire, but also would provide a convenient excuse to rest my weary body and refuel on water.

The ride out was much easier than I imagined it to be. The “tough bits” — the rise from Shoppers Drug Mart to UPEI, and the hill after the dip on the way up to Staples — weren’t that hard at all. Even the route back up North River Road, although pockmarked with various construction debris, wasn’t all that hard.

Here’s what I learned and gained in today’s experiment:

  • I burned about 259 calories; says here that’s about 0.44 Big Macs worth.
  • I saved about 1/5 of a gallon of gasoline, saving me about 50 cents.
  • I saved the planet from about 1.5 kilograms of greenhouse gases.
  • I kept one car out of both early morning and late afternoon Charlottetown traffic, making the ride easier for everyone who didn’t leave the car at home.
  • I realized just how much smog there really is in Charlottetown; I challenge anyone to stand at the corner of Allen Street and University Ave. and breath in deeply at 4:00 p.m. on a weekday and not be shocked at the result.
  • I discovered that Charlottetown is not a “bike friendly city” in terms of its infrastructure None of the roads I took had a bike lane. The area where bikes are expected to ride, between the sidewalk and traffic, is often full of holes, rocks, and culvert construction.
  • That said, I learned that Charlottetown drivers, at least in my experience today, are quite bike tolerant. I was turning left in their turn lanes, make them wait for me, forcing them to slow down, and I never heard a honk of the horn or an unkind word spoken or yelled.
  • I saw one other person on a bicycle during my entire journey — a woman riding up around UPEI.

I think I’m going to try and stick to a regime of Car Free Mondays for the summer, and see how it goes.

Care to join me?


Steven Garrity's picture
Steven Garrity on June 24, 2003 - 02:03 Permalink

I’ll give it a shot.

Wayne's picture
Wayne on June 24, 2003 - 02:19 Permalink

Next time, try the trail. It takes you right out to the University, with less encounter with autos, except a few crossings. Beautiful trees and wild roses along the way. It always causes me to imagine some child tossing an apple core out the window on a train trip to the country many years ago,resulting in an old apple tree today.

Justin's picture
Justin on June 24, 2003 - 02:49 Permalink

Riding my bike is the most enjoyable thing I’ve ever done. The the mot dangerous: riding one in this town. I’ll walk.

Norm Rukavina's picture
Norm Rukavina on June 24, 2003 - 03:53 Permalink

Before you start feeling too virtuous, note that the Timothy’s iced mocha cappucino you had more than replaced all the calories you burned on the bike ride.


Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on June 24, 2003 - 04:05 Permalink

An iced mocha cappuccino has approximately 290 calories.

Andrew Chisholm's picture
Andrew Chisholm on June 24, 2003 - 06:28 Permalink

I like the idea of car free mondays. Although I go the extra six days and have a car free 365 days. :) I walk a half an hour to and from work, sometimes I make that trip 4 times a day, like today. Since I started doing this back in March I lost a little more then 50lbs with out altering my life style.

On rainy days I use Metro Transit.

Rob Paterson's picture
Rob Paterson on June 24, 2003 - 11:08 Permalink

Riding the bike along the Bunbury road would lead lead quickly to my death — talk about bike unfriendly — all the “youts” roaring by in their trucks!!

Rob Lantz's picture
Rob Lantz on June 24, 2003 - 12:25 Permalink

I’m just plain car-free, nevermind Mondays, now that I live within 5 minutes walking distance to work. I don’t know why I pay for the car anymore.
I also agree that the rail trail would have been your best route to Future Shop. Also consider North River Rd. when heading in that general direction. I do a fair amount of biking around town, mostly aimless riding for exercise, but always avoid ‘The Avenue’ at all costs.

Derek Martin's picture
Derek Martin on June 24, 2003 - 14:03 Permalink

Anyone worried about safety biking on the roads should use that world-class bike trail we have here called the sidewalk. Though technically illegal, I’ve never seen anyone stopped or warned, let alone ticketed for using it. You might hit a pedestrian, but hey, that’s better than you being hit by a car, right?

Andrew Chisholm's picture
Andrew Chisholm on June 24, 2003 - 17:12 Permalink

Here in Halifax I’ve been told my police several times to get off the road and on the sidewalk while I was biking because I was not wearing a helmet…

I don’t think Charlottetown has a biking bylaw there for you can bike where ever you want.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on June 24, 2003 - 17:16 Permalink

I was once issued a ticket in Peterborough, Ontario, for riding on the sidewalk. I was about 19 years old. I was riding on a vast expanse of sidewalk with no pedestrians around for at least 500 feet.

It does seem to make a lot of sense to use the sidewalk when cycling from UPEI to the Charlottetown Mall, although once you hit the old Marks Work Wearhouse, the sidewalk gets very “up and downy.”

Derek, I’m curious: you don’t actually lug film canisters up to the SMT station with your bicycle, do you?

Johnny's picture
Johnny on June 24, 2003 - 17:34 Permalink

The sidewalk is for people walking. The road is for bikes and cars. Thats just the way it is. I, and my poor wee dog, have almost been run over innumerable times by insane Vancouver cyclists. Given the preponderance of not only bicycles, but also skateboards, rollerblades and scooters (and soon to be Segways) on the mean streets of the city, it might be time for some sort of ‘intermediate non-motorized transport device zone’ between road and sidewalk, but bicycles do not belong on the sidewalk.

Derek Martin's picture
Derek Martin on June 24, 2003 - 17:46 Permalink

There is no biking bylaw, but biking on the sidewalk is prohibited by the highway safety act here.

194. (2) A person who is riding a bicycle
(a) shall not ride on a sidewalk;

In Nova Scotia:

(2) No person shall ride a bicycle, tricycle, or similar machine on a sidewalk, provided, nothing in this Section shall be deemed or construed to prevent the use of velocipedes or similar machines by children on a sidewalk in a public square, park, city or town.

Derek Martin's picture
Derek Martin on June 24, 2003 - 17:52 Permalink

Peter, I use a cab or borrowed car for any errands I can’t accomplish on my bike. And of course in the winter. I’ve heard of car-sharing co-ops in some cities, apparently there’s been some success. I find I get more respect from drivers on my bike than I do on foot in Charlottetown. But I’ve been living downtown for too long, and have gotten very grumpy about the way people drive (and park) here. I do think children should be allowed to bike on the sidewalk — some jurisdictions regulate this by tire size.

Wayne's picture
Wayne on June 24, 2003 - 18:00 Permalink

As a runner, I have issues with aggressive bikers as well as boarders, and skaters on the sidewalk. The place for bikes, etc is on the street or trail, not sidewalk or boardwalk, where they are provided for by the Highway Traffic Act-end of story. The place for walkers/runners is on the sidewalk, boardwalk or trail,not street-end of story. Special allowances for situations where proximity is concerned is a non-starter.

City council and the Province must respond to the need for legislation to deal with bylaws regarding helmets, and providing special traffic lanes for bikers. These types of laws are needed to help people protect themselves from themselves, and help prevent costly injuries and medical bills, thus furthering the enjoyment of the activity, with all its spin-offs such as improved health, parking issues and pollution.

Until then, be careful out there.

jodi's picture
jodi on June 24, 2003 - 20:32 Permalink

Bikes are for the road (until there are special lanes for non-motorized transport devices) so they do not interrupt/startle/smash into pedestrain traffic. I wonder why people would even debate the issue. The cyclists should also be obeying traffic on the street as if they are in a vehicle so as not to interrupt/startle/smash into vehicle traffic. Good luck out there!

Alan's picture
Alan on June 24, 2003 - 23:42 Permalink

I sold my 1974 VW Super Beetle in 1986 to CBC radio star Maggie Brown and bought a bike which I used for years in Halifax. Bought it off of Jack Nauss on Windsor. Know your hills. Know where you can hit the gas. Do not try to strap canned goods in a grocery bag on the back book rack thingy. A tin of chickpeas took out 55% of my rear spokes in .05 seconds placing me at 32 mph two spokes from the future nickname scab-boy. Wear the helmet. An acquaintance of mine died on University in Halifax after hitting a drain wrong, going over the handlebars and hitting the curb at not a fast speed.

Steven Garrity's picture
Steven Garrity on July 1, 2003 - 16:30 Permalink

Monday has come and gone and I didn’t follow through. It was too hot to walk, and I needed to give a friend a drive. Lame, I know.

Mandy's picture
Mandy on July 27, 2003 - 03:07 Permalink

How as car free Monday’s been going Mr Rukavina??

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on July 27, 2003 - 14:17 Permalink

So far I’m batting 75% — of the dour Mondays since Car Free Mondays was announced, I’ve stayed car free for three of them. The exception was this past Monday, July 21, when I used my car to visit the Atlantic Superstore to purchase a toy bin for Oliver. He was coming home on Wednesday, and it was something I needed to get done, and couldn’t do without a car. I’ll keep at it.

Mandy's picture
Mandy on July 27, 2003 - 17:17 Permalink

Well that’s understandable. Biking with anything is bad enough, I don’t think we want you flying off the road with an over sized bin. But good to hear things are still going well.

How about everyone else out there?? are you still going car free?

john's picture
john on January 22, 2004 - 16:32 Permalink

it is the summer time and one of my cuzins were riding his bike on road and it was really slippry out side cause it has just rained out side. He was on his way to school when hi bike has slipped from right under neith him and he got hit by a car. This story has become feer to our family so please help me vote to be able to ride bicylcles on the sidewalks