From JOE - Our Hero & Chicago Car/Bike Swapper


From JOE - Our Hero & Chicago Car/Bike Swapper

When my wife, Allison, told me of seeing the post on
about Tour de Fat, we were both excited for a bicycle ride with
others. It was only when we read the rest of the information that we
looked at each other with nervous excitement. We have been discussing
what life would be like without a car for some time now. Our Jeep, a
trusty and sturdy 2001 Cherokee Sport, was once our backbone. It got
me to work, it got her to nursing school and in early 2006, it helped
us find the perfect apartment in Chicago where we would be close
enough to our jobs that we could ride our bikes or walk.

My job as a UPS truck driver has me behind the wheel of a semi truck
five long nights per week, amassing more than TEN THOUSAND MILES per
As I approach the morning rush hour into the city in a UPS truck, my
view of the skyline is often obscured by a ring of choking smog.
The morning drivers are ruthless, often driving over-aggressively,
cutting, weaving, riding the shoulder, flipping each other off.
The last thing I want to do after work is join this group of angry,
smog monsters.

July sees us moving into a new apartment, within walking distance to
bus stops and L stations. After the management explained the $200 a
month parking fee there, our dinner conversations have revolved
around, "what do we do with the Jeep" and "can we live vehicle free"
for the next few years... or forever.

This challenge is now reality, as we both knew the Chicago Tour de Fat
was the perfect opportunity to rid ourselves of the Jeep and accept
the full-time freedom of living without a vehicle. I am as active in
the beer community as I am in the Chicago cycling community, so seeing
New Belgium Brewing's involvement made me even more excited. I know
about the brewery's wind power and bicycle programs and consider
myself truly lucky when I get my hands on a bottle of La Folie!!!

Signing our Jeep over to charity and pledging to live vehicle free for
a year (oh, believe me, one is just the beginning) will hopefully
inspire others in Chicago and other cities to do the same. I look
forward to being a "spokes man" and am excited to keep in touch and
plan on immediately starting a blog to publicly document my adventures
in "vehiclelessness". It is a win, win, win situation, as we will be
helping a worthy cause, stop adding to that smog cloud and reap the
benefits both physically and mentally from bicycling!!!

I will be the proudest (and safest) bicyclist on the streets of
Chicago on a handbuilt Black Sheep Commuter, showing Chicago (and
beyond) that living vehicle free can be a reality.

Maybe someday, that smog cloud will disappear.

Joe M.

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