Tag Archives: cycling

Cars In Adulthood: Are We Over Them Yet?

I’ve written before on this blog about cycling as the latest sign of maturity and the trend towards eco-friendly cars. (Pay no attention to that runaway Prius behind the curtain…)

Several trends now point to the beginning of the end of car culture in the United States. But are Americans seriously ready to embrace alternatives to automobiles?

Today I’m over on PoliticsDaily.com talking about the end of America’s romance with cars and what it might portend. Have a look…


Image: New Car by Sumlin via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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A few months back, I did a post on why we ought to limit children’s computer time. Here’s an interesting rejoinder to that post in Babble, by a Dad defending his decision to let his son play violent video games.

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Adulthood Quiz: What Can You Live Without?

Awhile back, I posted on five household items you can do without, as well as five household items you *can’t* do without. Both posts were inspired by the myriad tchotchkes that pepper our house, courtesy of my gadget-loving husband.

I got to thinking about this very issue once again this weekend on a somewhat grander scale when two things that had gone missing from my life unexpectedly reappeared.

The first was a dishwasher. As I noted when talking about why we all need a wife, my dishwasher died about six weeks ago. Ever since, I’ve been washing dishes for our four-person household by hand. On Friday, the new dishwasher finally arrived and I’ll say it here first:  God, do I love my new dishwasher. Yes, I could have managed just fine without one. But I literally feel *blessed* everytime I place a dish in its new home, rather than piling them up in the sink.

The second thing from a former life which reappeared over the weekend was – oddly enough – a health club. When I first moved to London, I wrote an essay for the Guardian Weekly about how the cost of living was so high in this city that my husband and were forced to become Green by default. It wasn’t so much that we embraced Green living as that we had no choice; overnight, certain things had just become prohibitively expensive. So we gave up those staples of middle-class American life: two cars…a tumble dryer… and our health club memberships. And both of us started exercising outdoors; he cycling and I running.

But this past weekend my son was invited to a birthday party at a health club. While the kids played, the adults got a free workout. I went nuts. I climbed a StairMaster, I used an elliptical trainer, I lifted some weights…heck, I even took a sauna. And I topped it all off with a lovely cappuccino in the adjoining cafe where – posh mama that I am…(not) – I purchased some long overdue yoga gear. In a word: spectacular.

But unlike my new dishwasher, I came away from the whole health club experience thinking that – much as I enjoyed being in a fancy gym for two hours – I’m not sure that it’s something I actually need in my life. I’m actually quite happy just going running. I like the feeling of freedom it affords. I like the odd assortment of people and animals that I encounter along the way (which in my hood’ runs the gamut from Helena Bonham Carter to wild foxes). I like the cold air waking me up as it hits my face. And most of all, I like that it doesn’t cost a penny (pence).

In short, I learned that I could live without a health club.

As we grow older, it’s worth reflecting now and again on what we need in our lives to make us happy and what we can do without.

How about you? What creature comforts could you let go of?

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I was absolutely thrilled to get this shout out from the blog This Bird’s Day about my essay “Married to a Metrosexual” in the forthcoming Chicken Soup For The Soul: True Love. It made my day!


Image: day1DSC_0055.jpg by journojen via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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Can I Have an Outfit for My Prius? The Next Phase in Eco-Friendly Cars

One of my pet obsessions is cycling as an alternative to driving. I’m hopeful that cycling represents the next phase of transportation in adulthood.

Another of my obsessions are the many different ways that the U.K. and the U.S. – despite sharing a common heritage – are still miles apart culturally.

Imagine my delight, then, in happening upon this gem in yesterday’s Guardian:  The TFL (that’s Transport for London, the city’s transportation agency) is partnering with a private company to provide, quote “normal clothing that serves as specialist cycling clothing.” This new line of clothing is cleverly called Bspoke and you can view it right here on the TFL website.

That’s right. The City of London’s government is promoting a line of cycling gear.

Can you imagine that happening anywhere in the U.S. (O.K., anywhere outside of Portland?)

Of course you can’t. And that’s because even though car usage in the States appears to be on the decline, it’s a slow burn. For all sorts of reasons – most of them cultural, some having to do with urban sprawl – cars are still central to the American way of life.

So, no. It doesn’t look like we’re going to see Mayor Bloomberg promoting the Manhattan equivalent of Bspoke anytime soon.

But there is some good news here. Even if Americans are still reluctant to embrace cycling in quite the way Europeans do, the environmentally-friendly Prius (now in its third iteration) is generating waiting lists in Japan. And Toyota is hopeful that this enthusiasm will be matched in America (as well as in Europe).

My mother owns a Prius, so I’ve had the pleasure of driving one of those bad boys. And – oh my – was it  fun.

In the meantime, while we wait to see where gasoline prices and energy policy and – ahem – Middle East politics are headed, I took some comfort in this other news flash, courtesy of the blog Kim and Jason Escape Adulthood:

Question: What was the best-selling car in America last year?

Answer: The Little Tykes Cozy Coupe, with 457,000 units sold.

My only question is when the Cozy Coupe line of clothing will emerge…

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Further to yesterday’s post on five great lifehacking websites, I learned today that one of those sites – The Happiness Project – has spawned a sister site that is a happiness-hack-lover’s dream. Appropriately called The Happiness Project Toolbox, this site is a collection of “Eight Tools that will help you be happier now” – things like resolutions charts, lists of commandments and one sentence journals that can be shared with others. Check it out!

Image: Roadtrip by kaymoshusband via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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Cycling to Work: The Latest Sign of Maturity

In today’s International Herald Tribune, there’s a story about the new “must have” item of this recession: a glossy, black Dutch bicycle. Apparently, one of the many side effects of the current economic downturn is that people in New York City are embracing cycling like never before (according to the article, commuting by bicycle rose by 35% from 2007-2008 in New York; click here for everything you ever wanted to know about bicycle statistics).

This article caught my attention for several reasons, not the least of which is that I’m married to someone who has cycled to work regularly for the past two and a half years since we moved to London. But what really struck me was the article’s central question:  “Can urban cyclists really grow up and put on a tie?” (italics mine)

It’s certainly true that biking is something we typically associate with childhood. Learning to ride a bike is one of those great rites of passage of early childhood. It’s one of the first big activities you engage in – much like swimming – where you’re no longer entrusted to the immediate physical care of an adult. Rather, you’re on your own, and biking therefore signals freedom, mobility, independence.

But it’s when you transition from bike to car – in America, at least – that’s the definitive rite of passage:  a clear, indelible sign that you’ve become an adult.

Until now. What this article seems to suggest is that to the extent that New York bikers can acquire the gear, habits and attitude of, say, the Dutch, they will have evolved to a more adult way of living.

I can’t tell you how happy I am, for once, to be ahead of the curve on something lifestyle-related. Because here in Europe, so many people cycle to work that I no longer think it at all unusual. In Amsterdam, where we spent Christmas, you could easily forget that there even existed something called a car.

(Nor do I find it strange anymore to see someone – who shall be nameless – spend hours on line investigating the latest developments in fluorescent panniers and ergonomic hand grips. I think I’ll somehow fail to flag to his attention the latest trend in bike wear: the cordaround. Something tells me that if he ever got wind of the “espresso checked seersucker,” I’d never hear the end of it…)

It’s funny how life has a way of coming full circle. Things that once were considered the very essence of youth – like bicycles – are now a sign of maturity. I’m just wondering what’s next. I’m personally hoping that poptarts make a come-back…

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Speaking of recessions, Marci Alboher has a terrific new blog – Working the New Economy – that’s all about finding work in the current economy. Be sure to check out her weekly segment –  Who’s Finding Jobs Now? – for inspiration.

Image: Bicycle by J. Salmoral via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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