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Discussion: Sept 22: World Car-free Day!

in: Orienteering; Off-Course

Aug 27, 2010 9:05 PM # 
Wednesday, Sept. 22 is World Car-free Day. It challenges us all to try to get along for one day without depending upon a private car. And to research how to do so, not as a sacrifice, but with style, class and enjoyment.

In view of the record hot and turbulent summer we've had, many of us are more concerned than ever about Global Warming, which has been suggested as a cause for many of the events now happening:

- Record heat in eastern Europe

- Torrential monsoons and flooding in Asia

- Tree die-off in the Rocky Mountains

- Coral reef bleaching and death in Indonesian seas this summer

Tony Federer, USOF Champion many times over, has written a book and maintains an excellent personal website on the environment. But he's not the only orienteer who is increasingly worried.

For those who share our concern, over the next three weeks before Car-free Day, you might wish to do a bit of reading and planning.

I remember car-free days during WWII...nobody drove, to help the war effort; the streets were deserted all day and was eerie. Anyone seen in his car was considered unpatriotic!

Wouldn't it be great to again see a noticeable decline of car usage for that one shining day?
Sep 19, 2010 11:34 AM # 
Well this thread didn't go anywhere...

But with 3 days until Car-free Day on Wednesday, I'd like to risk being a pain in the ass, and challenge you to plan ONE trip or errand you usually do by car...and figure out a fun way to do it by alternative transportation for the first time: walking, biking, running, horseback, rollerski, public transportation. I'm not speaking of just a bike ride...this should be a real trip with a purpose and a destination.

For my own part I'm considering:
1. Going for a long run or bike ride between two train stations in the countryside, coordinating my run/bike route with scheduled train arrival times from/to the City

2. Trying a new small, out-of-the-way restaurant to which my wife Sari and I could bike or transit in the evening, perhaps in a small nearby town, and hopefully without a big parking lot.

3. Discover a new golf course in the country, and figure out how to get there and back using my bike, transit and just walking, while carrying my clubs in the lightweight double-strap golf bag I just bought.

4. Going shopping with Sari at IKEA using buses, 25 miles into the suburbs, and bringing back lingonberries and Swedish breads in our backpacks.

5. Commuting by bike, or doing a work-related errand.

I realize that few have access to as extensive a public transit system as we do here in Chicago. But I think you'll find there is SOME transit available...even if you have to bike to it. Why not try it on Wednesday? Take along a good book (or my favorite: sudokus and kakuros) and enjoy the ride. But if transit is not available, there's always walking: why not find a new pleasant route to hike somewhere for a reason?

I think the whole purpose of World Car-free Day is to encourage all of us to make a small discovery: going somewhere without a car CAN be a fun, active, feel-good, freeing experience! I wish you luck in making that discovery for yourself.
Sep 19, 2010 1:28 PM # 
Well this thread didn't go anywhere...

With good reason, I reckon.

I think some people are disgusted with proselytizing, especially non-orienteering related proselytizing on an orienteering forum. It was fine to silently and politely ignore it the first time, but not the second. Jam me once, shame on me. Jam me twice, shame on you.

OTOH, come to think of it, perhaps I will ride my horse that day, hadn't really though of it. BTW, have you done the math and physics? Is use and maintenance of a horse more environmental resource and calorie efficient than use and maintenance of an automobile? I don't know the answer to that question, but I'm certain the horse has an opinion on the matter. I think I'll make it be kind to animals day, and refrain from breaking equine megafauna to my servitude. The real point is that most enviro-proselytizers don't do the math, which is why we end up with some absolutely ridiculous, inefficient, non-economically-viable "alternatives". And BTW, they removed the hitching post and stables at the corporate center sometime around 1905, tho I can call the super and see if he'll install one just for the occasion. They also do not have showers, but since everyone will reek from the running and biking, no one will care, will they?

I guess I could go on about how the "climate science" is junk and has been doctored for political purposes, but I'll bet even you've seen those reports, Clark. If not, you should google them, fascinating reading. But I understand most enviro-proselytizers are not interested in the truth or honest scientific inquiry on the matter.

As for my part, I have an injury that prevents long distance running and walking (which means I haven't driven to many orienteering events, so I'm doing my part to save the planet right there -- so I have plenty of net carbon credits in bank over most on this forum), there's no transit anywhere near me (not that transit is an efficient use of time anyway), and no one in their right mind would ride a bike on the winding, shoulderless roads around here where the minimum speed for the Lexi and Mercedeses around the blind curves is about 60 (of course, there won't be any such vehicles out that day, will there be? -- it will even be safe to use the crosswalks for a change). So, I guess that leaves me to call in dead and get fired for the good of the planet. Are you going to make such a sacrifice for me, Clark? I can give you my paypal address if you need it.

And by the way, Clark, have you (or anyone) done an economic analysis of the impact of a global no-drive day on the economy? I realise past actions and experience indicate that affluent orienteers don't realise the world economy is in the toilet, but I can assure you such a global no drive day (if followed), would have an economic impact, and it would not be positive. Just what the economy needs now.

And who comes up with these days anyway? I want to come up with a day. I'm going to declare Sept 22: "Global Rational Thought Day". On Sept 22, everyone is required to think rationally about every issue at hand, and every situation they encounter thru the day. Everyone is required, for homework, to do a rational inquiry into the opposing point of view on one of their pet issues. For you Clark, that means taking the time to read all the reports on the doctored climate science and how it was doctored and what it all means. Or read up on wind turbines and see how many birds are killed. Or read up on biofuels and see if the costs (both economic and environmental) of mining and spreading fertilizer, runoff, clearing carbon sink trees to create fields, etc., make it a good deal. And so on. Take the time to think rationally about the opposite side of your issue.

Another task for USOF members on Global Rational Thought Day would be to do an honest and through financial analysis of the USOF budget and Strategic Plan. I do this sort of stuff for a living, so it was rather easy for me (In this case, all you need is a spreadsheet and a search engine), but, since everyone will be staying home that day, it is the perfect activity to pass the time while not tending to one's horse (who is no doubt browsing on all that carbon sink vegetation as we speak. Uh-oh).

Be creative on Global Rational Thought Day. Find an issue or cause you support, and do a rational analysis from the other side. You might be surprised at what you learn. And, IMHO, the world would be a much better place if we all thought more rationally about stuff, so you will be doing something for the planet as well.

So, Clark, is there a point to this blather? Yes, there is, and it is to point out that politics and religion are taboo subjects on internet fora (except for those so designated), even in the off-topic sections of internet fora. Now you know why. Clark, it is not your enviro-bullshit I object to; I consider myself as green or greener than the next fellow -- it is your proselytizing of your pet issues on this forum for, it seems, as long as I've been reading it. Would you like everyone else to start proselytizing their pet religious and political causes? Remember, on Global Rational Thought Day, please think about this question from the other side. Thank you.

Now, I'm going to drive 20 miles round trip to the park to run 5 miles, and I'm going to enjoy doing it. Have a nice day.

Do you think that will give your thread some life?
Sep 19, 2010 2:16 PM # 
And who comes up with these days anyway?

I'm one of the few who remembers who came up with National Orienteering Day. (Haven't heard too much from him since.)
Sep 19, 2010 6:56 PM # 

You know, usually I find chitownclark's posts to be abrasive in some way, but randy has definitely gone steel wool on this one.
Sep 19, 2010 8:00 PM # 
Keep up the good work, Clark. Thanks for the posts. The politics that's mixed in seems no less relevant than, say, a discussion of the politics involved in continuing to be able to obtain permits to use the land. We don't operate in a vacuum, and the consequenses of our actions are relevant if we want to keep on with these actions.
Sep 19, 2010 10:16 PM # 
I guess this would be a bad time to mention that the International Suit Up Day (ISUD) is on the October 13th...

But I did enjoy your post, Clark.

Now that most of my training involves biking, I cant stand traffic, or cars for that matter. I´lll make sure to enjoy those empty roads that day for sure :D
Sep 20, 2010 12:20 AM # 
Most importantly, I hope everyone remembered it's International Talk Like A Pirate Day
Sep 20, 2010 12:39 AM # 
thanks for the remindarrrrrrrr
Sep 20, 2010 12:18 PM # 
...Now you know why. Clark, it is not your enviro-bullshit I object is your proselytizing of your pet issues on this forum for, it seems, as long as I've been reading it. Would you like everyone else to start proselytizing their pet religious and political causes?

Thanks Randy for your impassioned response to my post yesterday. I'm sure many of us respect and appreciate your significant voluntary work for orienteering over the years. As a result, I'm a bit reluctant to go toe-to-toe with you. So just allow me to make the following four points:

1. I thought the purpose of a "Discussions" section on a/p was to allow us to present our opinions and thoughts. So yes, I'd like to hear everyone's opinions. Mine happen to frequently refer to the environment. Yours tend to ramble. So we both have differences; can't we still get along?

2. I don't believe the environment is either a religious or political topic; as living beings, it is something we all share communally. Like roommates in a big house, none of us really want to clean the bathroom...but we all suffer if it is filthy. So the intelligent thing is for each of us to do our business...but leave it as clean as possible for future users, and don't take all the t/p.

3. With twice as many people in the world as there were when our parents were born, and most of us enjoying an increasing living standard, it is clear that some restraint will someday be needed. Many of us think that day is now. And we're trying to voluntarily change our lives, not to wear hair shirts. But to do a bit less damage to the environment...and still enjoy life, perhaps even more. truly more!

4. There's little absolutely proven science on this. But there are a lot of scientists I admire who stand together in their claim that man is increasingly affecting the environment at many levels, some of which we continue to discover. Why take the chance they're wrong?

OK. I'll admit it: I don't own a car. So those five "ideas" I mentioned above? I do them everyday. It's no big thing for me. The sacrifice came thirty years ago, when I moved into the city, specifically so that I could try a car-free lifestyle.

However as some on a/p have gleefully pointed out to me, I still play on the "environmental disasters" that golf courses are. And I fly out of nearby O'Hare for O-meets and vacations without a thought. So I'm far from living an ecological lifestyle. And I have nothing to lecture you about if you wish to drive 20 miles for a run. So indeed...have a nice day.
Sep 20, 2010 12:44 PM # 
Empty car free roads.... taking the hair pin bends at dangerous speeds without the fear of going splat against a car/truck/van whatever your having :)
Sep 20, 2010 2:06 PM # 
I like that there is a "world car-free day", for the ideal it represents, but this is clearly not a useful or sustainable idea. If cars and trucks were to go *poof* and disappear, this country would immediately grind to a halt. We are a country and a culture that is utterly dependent on vehicular transport. As someone who deals with climate change both in my primary job and my primary passion, it's affecting these systems already, but cars are here to stay, at least in this country. Any infrastructure change large enough to actually reduce the number of car-miles in this country is prohibitively expensive.

Climate change is not an opinion, it is a fact. If you look at where their funding comes from, the nay-sayers are funded by folks who would benefit substantially if no legislation comes about that might limit greenhouse gas emissions.

As much as I respect the folks who can go car-free, please keep in mind that you are still quite reliant on vehicles if you live in the US - as a starting point, almost all the food you eat (unless your garden sustains you completely) would not get to your table without wheels.

There ya go, a pointless proselytizing post of my own.
Sep 20, 2010 2:58 PM # 
Well said, acjospe.

My favorite line from GW-Deniers is that climate scientists have some vast conspiracy going. Seriously? A conspiracy of this magnitude would require tens of thousands of academics all over the world to actually play nice with each other. ;-)
Sep 20, 2010 3:05 PM # 
"As someone who deals with climate change both in my primary job..."

This I was not aware of. Care to enlighten the other so benighted and I as to the nature of your professional involvement with climate change?

BTW, Randy, I think silently ignoring Clark a second time would have been better. This time, in contrast to his seemingly insufficiently thought through position on how well prostate cancer research ought to be funded compared to breast cancer research, he's got a lot of evidence on his side. Which doesn't make his insistence on proselytizing his views here necessarily a good idea - I think I'd often rather not know which people in the orienteering community vehemently disagree with me - but at least he managed to do so without effectively accusing, to take a few examples Hammer, blairtrewin and Tundra/Desert of being "not interested in the truth or honest scientific inquiry on the matter.".

Summing up - proselytizing here is arguably bad; inflammatory language in response, I would say clearly worse.
Sep 20, 2010 3:58 PM # 
A review of the trend in canceled ski-orienteering events over the past few decades would seem to make climate change an extremely relevant topic for discussion.
Sep 20, 2010 4:34 PM # 
Global warming seems to have been happening for many tens of thousands of years. As recently as 20,000 years ago the area now known as Ottawa ON was covered with a sheet of ice a kilometre thick. Thanks to global warming that ice sheet has long since receded northward. Global warming over those past millenia was considered a good thing.
Now it is considered a bad thing and mankind is beating itself up with guilt over it.
Too bad because we are only marginally responsible for anything in this trend that has happened repeatedly over the millions of years of our planet's existence.
Yes some of our gluttonous practices over the consumption of carbon based fuels should be reigned in but not because it will end global warming. There is only a finite amount of fuel stored in the earth and no more will be created until the next Ice Age. The less fuel we use now the more that will be available for future generations.
Wise government policy will balance attempts to limit the use of fossil fuels with policies to prepare their nations for the inevitable results of a changing climate in their area.
Sep 20, 2010 4:54 PM # 
I call strawman on Gord's latest. I, for one, have never heard anyone express the opinion that all the warming that has occurred in the last 20,000 years was a bad thing. It was, in fact, very good for us. That doesn't mean the anticipated rapid warming over the next century or so will also be good for us.

BTW, Gord, are you suggesting that the next ice age, should we ever let one occur again, will somehow renew the supply of fossil fuels? If so, please explain further - I haven't heard this particular notion before.
Sep 20, 2010 5:19 PM # 
God, I can’t believe I am wading in to this. I think I will preemptively gouge out one eye as punishment.

I thank Randy for his response. I am not going to assess the scientific validity of any of the points of view, but will merely note that values/politics and science are often associated. Climate science is hardly unique in this regard.

Randy’s entreaty that people attempt to think from another perspective is useful. For the most part, visitors to this site are likely in favor of parks and open space, and less favorably disposed to greenfield development. Visitors to are likely less so.

Regarding the conspiracy thing. Of course not. Or not explicitly. But, it is illustrative to think of cultural/intellectual trends as implicit, or de facto "conspiracies", especially when you are not involved in that movement yourself; especially when you observe from the position of the majority or of the incumbency.

For instance, is "Queer Theory" a conspiracy? I doubt it. Is it a school of thought with its own norms and agenda, whilst also being engaged in earnest intellectual inquiry. (I chose this example merely because it tends to be somewhat politicized itself as a matter of course, and a target of attack by some quarters. Other intellectual fields could be substituted. Say Creation "Science." Unlike that one, however, climate scientists are respectable scientists. But, what makes one respectable?

I submit that giving science a free pass for rationality is an error, especially when we are dealing with balkanized enclaves of heterodoxy.

While I should appeal to the appropriate philosophers of science to buttress the point that is still poorly-formed in my head, I instead often think of the (IMO) striking assertions of Danto in the world of art. Essentially, Danto has a sort of artistic "positivism" (my formulation) whereby the artistic community (a vague construct, admittedly) basically decides what art "is." I find this notion, even when applied to the ying domain of art, to be a really insightful way to consider the yang world of science. It will take a lot to convince me that that bastion of rationality operates free from such constraints.

Anyway, how is that for rambling?

And this notion that anti-warming "scientists" are somehow more vitiated because they get funding from certain sources…. You think that people that get tenure in a certain department, get funding from a certain foundation, or a publication in a certain journal, especially in a field that intersects with politics as this one does, are somehow immune from this? I would say it is just different in kind, but not in effect.
Sep 20, 2010 5:22 PM # 
I will say that when orienteers decide to expound on their political opinions, they seem to generally be pretty civil about it, and to have opinions that coincide pretty well with mine. (As opposed to the other internet forum that I regularly read, which consists of hang glider pilots.)
Sep 20, 2010 5:49 PM # 
Once you buy into "humans add to warming", using less car isn't political. It lands into about the same plane as not throwing gel wrappers on the trail. Add less to global garbage, and good karma be on you. Conversely if you don't buy into it, the discourse rapidly starts to appear political, as I guess has just occurred.
Sep 20, 2010 6:05 PM # 
Oh come on. Any time we are talking about allocations of resources (especially intertemporally), or values, in the context of a democracy, it is gonna be political. Cats like Coase introduced tools to help economists to deal with the issues of externalities (somewhat, though hardly completely germane to this) but deciding to apply such tools reverts back to politics.

I don’t want trees. I want to consume today and let grandma starve. I want to toss out my trash on the trail and kill Bambi. Why not?
Sep 20, 2010 6:09 PM # 
I guess we are in some sort of collaborative venture, requiring goodwill from others to make maps and put on events and organise training... so flaming isn't particularly helpful.
Sep 20, 2010 6:30 PM # 
"I don’t want trees. I want to consume today and let grandma starve. I want to toss out my trash on the trail and kill Bambi. Why not?"

For quite excellent reasons (excepting, perhaps, in light of the state of the deer population in many parts of the US, killing Bambi), which admittedly have to be debated in the political sphere, since not everyone agrees on them nor, even given agreement, is willing to behave in a less than maximally selfish way voluntarily. As you clearly realise.

An aside - I wish all my ideological opponents would admit, frequently and loudly, to wanting grandmothers to starve so they could maximise their own consumption. It would make it a lot easier to convince the undecided that they're wrong.
Sep 20, 2010 6:32 PM # 
danf--all I will say for now was that I was using "positivism" non-specifically, or if anything, more along the lines of its application in legal positivism, rather than logical positivism, so I wasn't conflating or contrasting that with post-modernism. Neither here nor there, as they say.
Sep 20, 2010 6:50 PM # 
Pats, are you telling me that I just missed an enitre day of "talk like a pirate," without even knowing it? Thats terrible! :(
Sep 20, 2010 8:18 PM # 
Aye Mathias, I almost miss'd it too, and a bottle of rum! Maybe we should be makin' an attackpoint event ferrr next yearrr so we do nay forrrget.
Sep 20, 2010 10:18 PM # 
Event for sure! Its gonna be Legendary!
Sep 21, 2010 2:02 AM # 
Yarrrrs indeedy. Shiver me balkanized enclaves of heterodoxy.
Sep 21, 2010 3:37 AM # 
For those who might not already be aware, one of j-man's undergraduate degrees is in Philosophy.

And -- oh yeah -- arrrrrrrrgh!
Sep 21, 2010 5:02 PM # 
I think the key point of randy's rant is he has "an injury that prevents long distance running and walking". Thus the buildup of pent up energy and frustration leading to non-rational vehement expressions of hostility.
Try pool running or biking instead. Or better yet go yell in the woods.
Sep 22, 2010 10:07 PM # 
As World Car-free Day draws to a close tonight, I'd like to again test everyone's patience, and risk more ire heaped onto this thread, by inviting anyone who had a car-free act or thought today to mention it here. My apologies to any folks that feel that this thread is intruding on orienteering discussions in any way.

My car-free acts are posted to my log; my car-free thought is that like the first Earth Day 40 years ago, I hope Car-free Day gains credibility and support over the coming decades. And not entirely for environmental reasons: there's also social and economic components of choosing not to drive. I'm richer since it costs less; and the world's richer since there's a couple of gallons still in the ground and not in the air.

It's a rare stroll, bike ride or bus trip that I don't interact with others in a pleasant manner. But as I observe drivers, they seldom interact with others, except perhaps with their middle finger. People seem to get from Point A to Point B much more socially when they go car-less, less rage...I wonder why?
Sep 22, 2010 10:58 PM # 
I've been hanging out at home for a couple of weeks, driving the car very little, but today I had to go to the office: 100 miles of driving.
Sep 23, 2010 5:17 AM # 
Took the bus for 70km to go to orienteering training. Went with 3 friends, had a great time!
Sep 23, 2010 5:19 AM # 
Addendum: I got called out for a late-night errand of mercy and spent another hour in the car.
Sep 23, 2010 1:55 PM # 
My car free days really stack up in May:
Maybe they should change the date?
Sep 23, 2010 5:11 PM # 
While I thought about the car-free day, I failed horribly. My daughter required transport to a distant doctor's appointment. The drive to her place then to doctor then to her place then home must have totalled more than 200km.
Sep 23, 2010 6:37 PM # 
I drove two cars yesterday! I could have had the hat trick, but I forgot it was car-free day and let Chris drive when we were in her car.
Sep 23, 2010 7:11 PM # 
I was afraid the extra car-free people would make the already standing-room-only train commute unbearable, but there seemed to be very few of those in need of/receptive to additional convincing by means of a Special Proclamation Day. About the same ridership yesterday as usual.
Sep 24, 2010 3:57 PM # 
Well I noticed more crowded train cars leaving Chicago on Wednesday morning full of reverse commuters...but that could have also been a result of other things than World Car-free Day.

In Summary the poor, almost belligerent, response to Car-free Day in this select group of athletes and tech-heads that comprise the a/p community, only shows how far we have to go. Thank goodness Sari and I live in Chicago where the car-free community has become strong in the past ten years. And there are few cat-calls and indignant comments from our neighbors, or belligerent yahoos trying to run us off the road.

One hopeful note from this discussion is it may have spawned other environmental threads around the a/p site. One of the most enjoyable and humorous is here.
Sep 24, 2010 5:15 PM # 
Clark, that really isn't nice.
Sep 24, 2010 5:33 PM # 
only shows how far we have to go.

Or perhaps many of us realize that a gimmick day, while perhaps useful in raising awareness, doesn't mean much of anything.
Sep 24, 2010 6:11 PM # 
But, it has inspired some entertaining (although exhausting) dialog.
Sep 24, 2010 6:36 PM # 
Imagine, an AP thread diverting from what its original intention was ...
Sep 24, 2010 11:19 PM # 
matzah ball:
Entertaining??? Dialog??? ARGHHHHHHH!
Sep 25, 2010 12:57 PM # 
The mood CAN shift Chitown, even if slowly. We put public transport directions on the calendar for tomorrow's orienteering which is on the edge of town. Bus runs right past.
Sep 25, 2010 2:32 PM # 
Nicely done gruver. I hope someone tries the bus.

When I lived in Australia in the 1970's driving a car was very much a male-dominated activity. Most couples had one car...and the man drove it. So at the bus stops all over Sydney you'd see very attractive young women in the fashion of the day, which was micro-skirts, waiting for buses.

Even that inducement didn't persuade me, or any other male, to begin taking transit back then. I hope New Zealand today is more enlightened.
Sep 25, 2010 8:13 PM # 
Attitude or 'mood' is important, but it means nothing if it's not the attitude of the people doing the urban planning. We all need viable alternatives, both in terms of public transportation options and in terms of realistic and actually fuel-efficient vehicles. While this car-free day stuff is a pretty idea, I'd prefer people be encouraged to vote and participating in local politics. Share the research that shows that highway widening doesn't help traffic, that people will ride rail, and that most people *do* want to conserve energy, they just don't want to make huge sacrifices when nobody else is.
Sep 26, 2010 10:28 AM # 
I don't think anybody came by bus. Not surprised (or disapppointed) as we haven't tried suggesting this before. But we do have a bent towards "close to home" events.
Sep 26, 2010 11:37 AM # 
Mapping areas close to home is certainly a factor, because they can also be accessed by bicycle in some instances. But just as Cristina says, few people will leave the car in the garage on Sunday morning when nobody else is.

I've been maintaining transit instructions for our local club for 15 years. However I'd be surprised if they're used by many besides myself.

But don't give up trying. For one thing, holding meets on maps accessible by transit is an excellent method to get more kids and students into orienteering...people who may not own cars. But that requires a parallel program for O in Schools which, so far, my club has not tackled.
Sep 26, 2010 12:10 PM # 
With volunteer organizations it usually doesn't pay to expect to follow though on someone else's 'great ideas'. People do what most interests them--as in your case of maintaining the transit info. You can only hope for teachers to join your ranks. So far my club doesn't have enough for a critical mass.
Sep 26, 2010 10:04 PM # 
A perceptive observation Janet. Change is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.

One program relevant to this thread which seems to have "stuck" through persistence is summer-time afterwork sprint events in urban parks. Inspired by the Park World Tour, we began experimenting before the sprint distance was recognised by the IOF or our national federation. It's a good time/place for sprint events and they are easy for planners to prepare.

I'd have to admit that few people arrive by public transport, but reducing the travel needed can be more effective than making travel more efficient.

This discussion thread is closed.