Thanks to everyone for the kind words. I just got back in town. I'm looking forward to tearin' it up with you in '08. I spent Christmas week in El Paso with lots of family. I'm happy to report that I now have the entire Columbo series on DVD, at least the portion that has been released thus far. Best TV show EVER.
And during the holidays my son added considerably to his collection of mini football helmets (the kind that typically come from gumball machines).
ho Ho HO!
So in the coming year I'd like to hear from you about what you see as the future of transportation. I mean the deep future ... Like, what you think your kids' kids' kids will be driving.
If you've got a take on that topic, let's hear about it. A lot of you may be on vacation and such at the moment, but we'll talk about it more later. We've got time. And this is the only place I know of talking about it ...
I'll be going back to work Monday and I'll be online every day for the foreseeable future.
This is it. My month-long No Car. No Problem. experiment officially ends at 5 o'clock. I rode my neighborhood bus, train and bike to the Star-Telegram's Bedford newsroom this morning. I'll be here today, writing up the print version of the story, and taking any questions you may have. It's been great meeting so many of you who are now loyal blog readers. I hope you'll bookmark Honkin' Mad and read it daily. My wish in 2008 is that the blog becomes more meaningful to you. I've got a couple of ideas to make the content more fun and useful, starting right after the new year. And I'll need your help to make it work.
Bike update: The gear cable is still broken but I got the bike into a comfortable gear. It's functional. Plus, I really needed to use it Thursday, 'cause I missed my once-a-day neighborhood bus and got into a jam trying to get where I needed to be. I'll get it to a bike shop later. It just needs a good once-over from a professional.
I rode Route 23 Mercantile to the T board meeting today. The Mercantile route is fairly new. It circulates around Meacham Airport, a couple of colleges and an industrial area at the southwest corner of North Beach and Loop 820. It was a very easy 3.5-mile bike ride from my home to the nearest bus stop, which was just west of the Budget Suites in that area. The only tough part was riding past Motorola and Countrywide, where traffic was too heavy for me on Beach Street and, since there were no sidewalks, I rode on a stretch of roadside grass that was as fluffy as a roll of Charmin. Took a little extra effort.
One other passenger was on the bus, but he jumped off near an animal health manufacturing company of some sort. I had originally planned to get off Route 23 at the Northside Transfer Center. But the driver, Doroteo Mendioli, asked if I was trying to get downtown. He said his bus was about to go out of service and he could take me downtown if I wanted to avoid a 10-minute wait for another bus at the transit center. I told him I actually needed to get to the T's office on East Lancaster, and since that's where the bus garage is, he practically took me to the front door. Friendly guy. He's been with the T since Day 1. He says he hasn't had an accident in 29 years of driving, and when he hits 30 years, he wants the T to buy him a steak dinner or a plaque or something ...
30 years accident--free. That's something to shoot for ...
After the T board meeting, I got a ride home from Joan Hunter, the T's public affairs guru. She was very nice to allow me to put my bike in the back of her SUV. We had a nice chat, although we got stuck in terrible traffic on 35W, where traffic was blocked by a police shooting scene. It was hard to remember when to turn on KRLD 1080 AM for a traffic report on the 8s because Joan keeps her clock set 12 minutes ahead. That's too much math for a reporter!
I missed my daughter's first cross country meet yesterday afternoon. I was at work in the Star-Telegram's Bedford newsroom. The event, which involved several area middle schools, was at a park in Coppell. I promised her I'd attend the next two meets in January.
I woke up at 5:40 today and was ready to leave at 6:20. But the bus doesn't come to the area until 6:55-ish, so I decided to sit down on the couch for a minute. Apparently I dozed off. Next thing I know, it's 6:57 a.m. and there' no way I'll make the five-minute walk to the bus stop on time. I jogged down to the bus stop anyway, but by the time I got there at 7:04 the bus was long gone.
So I'm back at home, sitting in my garage. Kinda stuck. I do have a backup plan, though. I have to cover a T board meeting at 4 today on East Lancaster. I think I'll either walk or ride my bike about 3.5 miles south to Beach and Loop 820, where I can catch the T's 23 Mercantile route. That'll get me to the Northside Transfer Center and eventually downtown.
Reporter Sarah Bahari was nice enough to give me a ride home. She covers the Keller schools, so she knows my area, but it was still pretty far out of her way.
I'm crunching a few numbers tonight, trying to figure out how much time I've spent on the road the past four weeks and how much I coulda spent if I were driving. These numbers include rough estimates for travel times Thursday and Friday, based on how I think those days will go, and are subject to change:
41 hours, 18 minutes -- Time spent getting around town by bus, cab, foot, train and rides bummed from friends the past four weeks. This includes time spent commuting to and from work, and time traveling to and from news assignments.
23 hours, 50 minutes-- Estimated time it would take to make the same trips by car.
The No Car. No Problem. experiment officially ends at 5 p.m. Friday. At the moment I'm trying to crystallize some thoughts about the project for a story that will appear sometime in the next few days in the print edition.
I'm also tallying up things such as the cost of commuting without a car, time involved, etc.
Many readers have asked about the bike. I'm working on it when I can in the evenings and I think I'll be able to get it into street shape by Friday, when I'll really need it. The gear cable is still not working but I think I can get it into one comfortable gear, as several people have suggested.
Tomorrow, I'm riding the T to downtown Fort Worth, conveniently to cover a T board meeting. I won't need my bike for that.