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Not Your Father’s Carpool: Part 2

Recently in Not Your Father’s Carpool Part 1, CEC reported on new findings by U.S. Pirg indicating that young people are buying fewer new cars and driving less – demanding a new American Dream that is less dependent on the one-car-per-person model.

Coupled with this is another trend: the rapid development of social media and mobile technology that make it easier for people to connect directly with someone who has something they need.


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Not Your Father’s Carpool: Part 1

When 18-year-old Lauren Mok leaves her apartment in Isla Vista for classes across town at Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) and uses an iPhone app to offer a ride to a student she doesn’t know, she occasionally reflects on something a professor recently said:

We’re in the middle of a social revolution, where technology is changing the way we do everything. Even, it seems, activities as mundane as driving.

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A New Mother’s Struggle with Climate Change

I used to be uncomfortable with the concept of grace. I had been asked to believe that grace was something bestowed upon us from above, but that idea didn't fit with what I was observing around me in the natural world. Then a few months ago I had an encounter with grace that changed my life forever.

But first, some background.

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Courtney won a bike and left her car behind

Last month CEC conducted a drawing to give a local resident a new bike (special thanks to the Isla Vista Bike Boutique for donating the cruiser). We picked the person who made the best case for using the bike to replace their vehicle trips. The winner was Courtney Mercier.  She received her bike in time to hit the streets with thousands of local cyclists this Cycle Maynia – Santa Barbara’s month-long celebration of biking.

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Aaron J. is a bimodal commuter

Aaron Jones, Associate Director for Community Affairs for UCSB’s Associated Students, commutes regularly from his home in downtown Santa Barbara to the UCSB campus. Each day, he travels the same route, but his trip isn’t in the comfort of his own vehicle. As part of a one-car family, Aaron spends the majority of his commute on the bus or on his road bike.

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Steve H. Prefers to Bypass the Pump

Steve Hahn has been interested in sustainable transportation and electric vehicles for as long as he can remember.  Growing up in Detroit, he was steeped in the car culture, as well as the big city’s trains and subways. Later in life he moved to Santa Barbara and began working for the Metropolitan Transit District (MTD). Residing close to work, Steve drives a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) every day. It seemed like an efficient and sustainable decision, and “bypassing the pump has also been nice.” He has enjoyed it so much so that he even converted his neighbors, creating Santa Barbara’s very own EV Neighborhood.

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Dennis A. wants to be free from fossil fuels

My journey is one of many steps. Thirty years ago I built a modest house for our family near the upper end of Mission Canyon that was quite green at the time. Our utility bills were miniscule. Nevertheless, in 1999, we installed photovoltaic panels to generate most of our electricity. However, I was troubled by the fact that, living in upper Mission Canyon, we went everywhere around town in our cars -- yes, that is plural. The only way I saw to reduce this dependence on fossil fuel was to move downtown.

Concern about energy and resource use evolved from a basic value that I have held for a long time -- namely, the sacredness of all life. Spending a lot of time camping and backpacking as a child and teenager shaped this reverence for life and my becoming a conscientious objector to war.

As we know, tensions around the possession and exploitation of the planet's finite resources—fossil fuels being prominent on this list—have and continue to lead to many wars and the destruction of many creatures and habitats. I remember being stuck in long lines of cars waiting for gas during the OPEC oil embargo in 1973. That event sparked my involvement with solar energy and efforts to move away from our over-reliance on fossil fuels. This awareness has undergirded my path of using fewer non-replaceable resources.

About 6 years ago, we and 2 other couples began designing a 4 condo infill project just a few blocks off State Street. We harnessed the sun for powering the buildings in all ways—space heating, hot water, and electricity. This combined with rigorous energy conservation measures has nearly freed us from fossil fuels in our homes.

The next step was to get rid of my car, which I did about 8 months ago. Now biking or walking gets me wherever I need to go with the occasional negotiated use of my wife's car. Even though my geographic world has shrunk, my interactive world has increased. I meet more people—old friends, new friends and casual interactions—than I ever did in the past. Best of all, I love it.

Being a part of a small living community has also been wonderful. Visiting, helping, borrowing, lending and sharing on a daily basis is a lost pattern of living for most of America.

The frosting on the cake for this journey (and totally unplanned) is having our son, his partner, and their new baby – our granddaughter – living in the flat just above us. Multi-generations living together is prevalent in most countries of the world but not so common in the U.S. today. This old family living arrangement has brought us great joy and richness. It makes me think often of the saying, "It takes a village to raise a child."

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Alex F. is using her new bike to reduce car trips

CEC recently conducted a drawing to give a bike to a local resident who could make the best case for using the bike to replace a car. (Special thanks to the Isla Vista Bike Boutique for donating the bike). Winner Alex Frost tells us her story and how she will be using her new bike to get off fossil fuels:

What made you consider ditching your car for a bike?

The company I work for just moved to downtown Santa Barbara. I live towards the top of "downtown" between the Arlington and the Santa Barbara Bowl – definitely within biking distance, just under 2 miles. I am also involved in many activities after work that are downtown (kickboxing, pilates, volunteering, coed softball), all within biking distance from home and the office.

Even though my life revolves around the downtown area, I still drive to work every day. I know it doesn’t make sense to drive a few miles, but my other alternatives aren’t working. I need a bike!

Have you tried getting around without your car before?

I’ve tried walking, but it can be challenging because I'm involved in so many activities. I typically use my lunch hour to squeeze some fun into my schedule. When I tried travelling by foot, it’s absolutely impossible to get back to the office in just shy of an hour, with boxing gloves, yoga mats, softball mits, or whatever the day's activities entail (believe me, I tried!). I even tried the electric shuttle service once, but I found the schedule was a bit too unpredictable and I was back to the office even later than if I had walked.

How will owning a bike make things easier?

It’s quicker than walking, easy to ride around town, and I don’t have to drive my car a shamefully short distance to get to work. I have been looking for a bike ever since I moved closer to downtown, but many of them are above my price range.

In a moment of hopeless desire, I bought a bike basket. Unfortunately, it sits unused. I know it’s longing for a companion to wheel around in the fresh air, wanting to carry my gym bag to and fro, and frolic in the breeze. But alas, the basket sits alone, desperately awaiting its mate.

Now that you’ve won a bike, what’s your plan?

I’m going to attach my bike basket immediately! Then, I’ll plan out my routes to work, and try out the bike rack at my office. I’m planning to bike to work every day. I’ll also bike to my extracurricular activities and the farmer's market.

On the weekends, I'm usually down at the beach, which is also close enough to bike to. Plus, all the summer festivals are coming up soon, and they are within biking distance too! I will probably only use my car for occasional trips out of Santa Barbara.

Happy pedaling, Alex! Enjoy the ride.

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