Undrive: What’s Your Story?

From Undrive.org. Helmet tip to Transition Orlando

I suspect more than a few of our regular readers are undrivers. I was thinking it might be fun hear stories of how you became and undriver: what made you decide, how did you get started, were there challenges to overcome or was it just super easy? How has it enhanced your life? Please share in comments (don’t worry about being longwinded, we love to read stories!).

For those of you in the Orlando area, I’m contemplating doing a short video or maybe a mini-series to tell such stories as a way to raise awareness and promote active transportation in this area. If you’d like to be a part of that project, please let me know. In addition to people with stories to tell, I could use someone with expertise in video production. Perhaps even a student who wants to make it a school project. Contact me.

25 replies
  1. Kevin Love
    Kevin Love says:

    Great question! It got me thinking about my cycling history and how I got to be where I am today. So here goes…

    I’ve been a cyclist since the age of four years old. I still remember my first bike. It was a red single-speed with a coaster brake. It was bought just a tad too large for me on the theory that “He’ll grow into it.”

    Well, I did. That bike took me all around the neighbourhood. It took me to school, friends, the store, the park and everywhere else a gang of adventurous boys could want to go in Middleton, Wisconsin.

    My first adult bike was a Schwinn “Collegiate” five-speed . It was made in Chicago using Schwinn’s unique electroforging process. Yes, I’m dating myself – I am so old that I remember when things other than military weapons were actually made in the USA.

    I am actually a rather tall man at 205 cm (6’ 8”). The Schwinn was just a bit too small for me, but I rode it for 32 years. When I reached the stage of life where I could afford to buy nice things for myself (and not just my wife and three children) I decided to get the “ultimate” bicycle that would fit me perfectly and that I would ride for the rest of my life. By this time I was living in Toronto, which has quite an advanced bicycle culture.

    After more than 40 years of riding bicycles, I knew exactly what I wanted for my “ultimate” bike. It had to:
    •Fit me with a relaxed, comfortable upright posture.
    •Have low-maintenance internal hub gears and brakes.
    •Have full fenders, full chaincase and coatguard to keep my nice work clothes clean.
    •Have enough cargo capacity to take my briefcase and laptop to work, and a full trolley of groceries home.

    After a lot of looking, I found the bicycle that I will be riding for the rest of my life. That bicycle was the Pashley Sovereign Roadster. It may be seen in the Pashley catalogue at:


    The one I got was the largest size with the double top tube. It came fully equipped from the factory with everything I wanted and well as lights and a bell. The only thing that I added to it was 70L Basil panniers to get the grocery-hauling capacity that I wanted.

    Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with cancer and had to have my right kidney and 7 cm of the bone of my pelvis removed in three different operations. Not fun. To keep cycling, I added an electric assist to the front wheel.

    Why do I live a car-free lifestyle? Where I live in downtown Toronto, very few people own cars. I see that in The Riding of Toronto Centre, the commute mode share is:
    38% Public transit
    34% Walking and cycling
    26% Motorists (drivers and passengers)

    For me personally, the building where I live does not have any parking for cars. The building where I work also does not have any parking for cars. If I were to drive a car to work, I would have to spend $250 per month to rent a car parking spot about ½ km away from where I live. I would also have to spend another $250 per month to rent another car parking spot about 600 metres away from where I work. Since I only live 1.2 km away from work, it makes much more sense to simply cycle to work every day.

    • Eric
      Eric says:

      What will you do if the place that employs you moves out to the ‘burbs? Will you move there, too?

      Back “in the day” companies owned their own buildings and hardly ever moved (since it was expensive) and it made sense to move near them. Heaven knows the Europeans did it for years, but these days they sign short term leases and blow if the rent gets too high.

      • Kevin Love
        Kevin Love says:


        It is highly unlikely that my employer will move offices. The miniscule savings that this will generate are insignificant compared to the costs of the employee dissatisfaction.

        We are in a highly competitive industry with global competition. Companies that do this sort of thing are unable to attract and keep the type of employees that enable them to stay ahead of the competition.

    • Peter
      Peter says:

      Hi Kevin,

      I am also 6’8″ tall and have recently acquired a Pashley Roadster Sovereign. I really like the bike but am having a similar problem to you (as I understand from a post of yours I saw on another blog) in that I find that the frame, seat post and bottom bracket fit me but the handlebars do not. I intend to take it to a nearby specialist dealer soon to rectify this, but before I do, I’d be grateful to learn of what modifications you made to your handlebars (how you raised them I’m guessing) to make the bike fit your frame. I’d also be grateful for any other views you might have on the bike (i.e. its carrying capacity, general durability) – unfortunately I don’t have an owner’s manual as mine is a 2008 model that I bought second-hand.

      Many thanks,


  2. Doohickie
    Doohickie says:

    I don’t live in Orlando. Unfortunately I’m not as much as an undriver as I used to be. In early 2008 my job moved to a site that was a mere 7 miles from my house and I decided to see if I could ride to work. From that point on, I rode more often than I drove.

    Late last year, my office moved again and now it’s 17 miles each way. The biggest impediment to bicycle commuting is now time, as it takes me about an hour and a half each way to work. The second biggest impediment is a lovely wife who is afraid I will melt if I get wet on the ride home.

    We are considering moving closer into the city which would shorten the commute a little bit, hopefully less than an hour each way, but it will be a while until we’ll be able to make that work (need some repairs on our current house before we can sell).

    I try to ride a bike to the grocery store when I can too. Ultimately the goal would be to get rid of one of our cars, but we’re not quite to that point yet.

    • Eric
      Eric says:

      When you say, “In early 2008 my job moved to a site that was a mere 7 miles from my house”

      then you say, “Late last year, my office moved again”

      then you say, “We are considering moving closer into the city which would shorten the commute a little bit”

      Why bother? All that will happen after you move is the boss will find some cheaper space further away from you.

      In my mind 17 miles is too darn far to commute everyday, by bike or by car, but there isn’t a thing you can do about it.

    • MikeOnBike
      MikeOnBike says:

      Instead of biking the whole 17 miles, or driving your car the whole way, try splitting the difference. Drive your car part of the way, then park, unload the bike, and ride it the rest of the distance. That’s what I do most days.

      A variation is to drive to work (with bike in car), then bike home. Next day, do the opposite.

      Or if there’s a transit option that takes bikes, use that for part of the distance.

  3. Doohickie
    Doohickie says:

    I’ve considered both.

    The distance is okay, but the time involved is the problem. If I have to be somewhere after work, riding halfway doesn’t really work because by the time I ride, then load up the bike, it takes just as long. As for driving in with the bike on the car, then riding home, then riding back the next day…. Seems like too much planning.

    The office is as far as it’s gonna get. We’re not really moving to make my commute shorter, but it will be a side benefit. We went to move from a house that looks like this in the suburbs, to one that looks like this in the city.

  4. Kevin Love
    Kevin Love says:

    What impresses me about the “undriving” video and people’s stories here is the extreme extent to which land use planning and the built environment in the USA is dedicated to ensuring automobile use.

    Here in Toronto, the extensive and expensive infrastructure to support car use simply does not exist. Yet in the post-World-War II era until 1971 Toronto was almost as car-addicted as any city in the USA.

    So what happened? How did we get from there to here? And how can the same be done in the USA?

    That story starts in 1971 with the killing of a much-debated proposal to construct a series of expressways criss-crossing Toronto. This included the Spadina Expressway, the Crosstown Expressway and the Scarborough Expressway. There is an excellent article on this on Wikipedia at:


    One key factor in this decision was the division of powers section in Canada’s constitution that assigns roads to provincial jurisdiction. The central government would not be contributing a penny to constrution of the expressway system.

    This may be contrasted with the system in the USA where 90% of the cost is typically picked up by the US federal government using gas tax revenues. In Canada, gas tax revenues go into general government revenue.

    This has led to an unfortunate situation in the USA where many highways have been approved by state and local governments under the principle of “Why not? We’re not paying for it.”

    This leads me to my first recommendation for ending car culture in the USA:

    End US federal government highway funding. This will be strictly a state and local responsibility. If people want a highway, then they have to pay for it themselves.

    The second step in ending Toronto’s car culture was transforming all the car parking lots into condos and office buildings. Provision of car parking was largely left to the free market. As a result, a car parking spot now costs about $250 per month. Driving to work means renting a parking spot at home and at work, for a combined cost of $500 per month. If an employer provides parking, this is a fully-taxable employment benefit.

    Which leads me to my second recommendation for ending car culture in the USA:

    Let the free market reign. End all zoning and other requirements to provide car parking. If an employer chooses to provide an on-site car parking lot, the full cost of doing so will be assigned as a fully-taxable employment benefit to each employee who chooses to drive a car.

    The third step in Toronto was the “get them young” principle. This involves prohibitions that ban school children from being driven by their parents to school. Some schools have formal legal bans. I’ll post a link to one such school.

    Other schools simply chain off their driveway during school opening and closing times. The local government cooperates by signing the streets around the school as “no stopping” zones. The local police ensure that a police officer is present during school opening and closing times. The police officer will ticket anyone who tries to stop a car in the “no stopping” zone to let off or pick up a passenger.

    Exactly the same thing can be done at schools in the USA.

    The practice of driving children to school will be ended in the USA by chaining off school driveways during school opening and closing times. Also the local government will post surrounding streets as “no stopping” zones during those times. And the local police will enforce this law to ensure that children are not driven to school.

    It is my belief that these three recommendations will result in a much more human and humane transportation environment in the USA.

  5. Kitzzy
    Kitzzy says:

    We’ve been trying to go by bike more often, and used to bike to work almost every day when we lived near UCF (where we work). We have since moved to Downtown Orlando, which makes biking to work a bit harder on a daily basis but we still tried to when we could.

    Last month, my car wouldn’t turn on (again) and we opted not to fix it. We do not even know what is wrong with it, but we do not care. Instead we used the opportunity to see if we could truly live without a car in Orlando. We’ve been at it for about a month. Although it presents us with a few challenges, they are nothing a little time and pre-planning can’t solve.

    Because we are both training for endurance events (me several marathon and Jason a half ironman triathlon), biking 15 miles each way to work every day is not feasible while still getting in our training and enough sleep. So we alternate biking to work with riding the bus. Both methods take about the same time to get to work, but the bus is not as flexible because it only comes every 30 minutes. The weather and our level of exhaustion from training are also a factor in deciding which method we use.

    So far, we are enjoying living without a car and the new adventures it provides (we biked to Blue Springs this weekend to camp). We are currently taking the Cycling Savvy course to get more confidence and learn how to ride safely in Orlando streets. We are lucky that our commute to work is mostly on trails, but I’d like to be able to not think twice about riding my bike everywhere.

    I am documenting all this on my blog and hope to post a recap of our trip to Blue Springs soon.

    • Keri
      Keri says:

      Awesome Kitzzy! Thanks so much for posting. I am looking forward to reading about your car-free adventures. I will add your blog to our sidebar. And thank you for the nice write-up on the class!

      • Kitzzy
        Kitzzy says:

        Yeah, it is good cross training. However, I am training for a marathon so I need to focus more on running and it’s hard for me to run and bike on the same day back to back. I did it a few times and it worked ok in the morning, but I was exhausted for the ride home, especially because I’d be up at 4 am to run. Now I try to take the bus on days I run, then bike on the other days. I think my body would eventually adapt, but finding the time to do it all, including getting enough sleep to let me body recover, is more of a factor.

  6. Robert Davidson
    Robert Davidson says:

    I grew up in Stevens Point, WI and rode a bike everywhere. I graduated from a garage sale banana seat single speed to a 10 speed Takara to a 1984 Raleigh racing bike with a chromed rear triangle. My father and I once rode from Stevens Point to my grandfather’s farm in Prarie du Chien, a 300 mile trip we covered in 3 days. I learned what it was like to face mounting up for another 100 miles when my sit bones resisted the very image of a bicycle seat. I also learned what it was like to bonk 10 miles from the nearest food source. My commuting bike riding took a hiatus when my grandfather gave me a 1969 Oldsmobile 88 in 1985, but I continued to ride for exercise and train for an occasional triathlon. Once married I found that sticking to a single car saved a lot of money that could be used for my wife’s photography habit and tuition. Ever since 1993 I have biked back and forth to work. My current trip is 10 miles each way in South Texas heat. I discovered vehicular cycling principles last year. Once I broke myself of the 25 year old habit of hugging the curb, it has really improved the quality of my rides on the same streets I used to worry about.

    • Robert Davidson
      Robert Davidson says:

      “I discovered vehicular cycling principles last year” means that I encountered them for the first time – clearly others discovered them long ago!

    • Keri
      Keri says:

      Discovering assertive riding improved the quality of my riding, too. It really extinguishes fear and opens up the world of possibilities for bike transportation. 🙂

      • Doohickie
        Doohickie says:

        The funny thing about VC is that until you’ve done it, it seems insane. Once you do it, it seems as natural as can be. I am not a hardcore VCist, but I use it as one of my traffic tools. There are times when it makes perfect sense; there are also times when methods that might make Forester cringe are the way to go.

        • Keri
          Keri says:

          That’s why I’m shying away from VC as a description. It’s associated with rigidity and grumpiness. My cycling style is neither rigid nor grumpy.

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