Becky Jo's Carfree Life

Anyone else missing Becky Jo’s column?
I really enjoy it.
I know there are a LOT of things going on right now, but wanted to voice that I like these family biking and car-free lifestyle posts a lot. I also hope Becky Jo is doing well in these times, and that if possible we’ll see more of them.



Yes, I’ve enjoyed all her posts.

@Beckyjopdx - howsit goin’? All well, I hope. Furrfu, who can believe your first BikePortland column was only December 17th, 2019?! Seems like forever, this crazy year. I’m curious how your car-free/car-lite life has evolved, good and bad, how you’re looking at biking as we move towards fall and the dark, wet season, and your views on bikes and cars looking forward.


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I miss it too!

Becky Jo might still write from time to time. She’s got a full plate with life right now and writing isn’t her main gig.

I would really like to find other columnists as well. If you know anyone who can write and loves bikes (or doesn’t, but has interesting thoughts about them)… Let me know!

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@ChadwickF & @Alan_1.0

Wow! Thank you! You made my day!

Well, we bought the neighbors’ car, then promptly sold it. :rofl: It wasn’t something we wanted & the repairs were beyond my capability, so it was just as well. We have continued being car-free. I still rent a car or do a Getaround App borrow 1-2x a month for Costco or the odd freelance job too far to bike. I lucked out and got a Burley for $50 that I call my SUV for larger hauls, but most rely on my bike+panniers+bungee cords. I’ve installed racks on the teens’ bikes & even tightened up a brake cable or two, but leave the more intense stuff for Kenton Cycle until I can take a couple classes again someday. I was really looking forward to doing classes & reporting in them here and still want to someday.

I owe so much if my comfort and confidence to all of you here. The encouragement and advice was and still is what feeds me. I mean, I didn’t take all of it. I got earbuds with ambient sound and often listen to audiobooks on longer rides. Lol. And I did get my first real road rager that forced me off the road. That’s some permanent trauma. But even with that, I still take the lane more often than not, I ride with my kids all over, I’ve taught my teens to run to the store or Farmers Market for me… all in all it’s been pretty awesome.

Now for this winter: I’m going to have to up my waterproof pants game but also figure out better ventilation. I gave myself a lovely case of hoale rot last year sweating/school/rain/repeat, so need to figure that one out. I’ve designed some pants & a co-designing a face mask around these needs and those are in prototype phase. I tried a Japanese typewriter (super tight weave) cotton for the pants with reflective piping, and it is golden for the wind, but total fail for rain. So yeah. Working on that.

I’ve got the kids convinced the can ride or combo ride/trimet if school ever starts up again. They’ve been working in their distance- conditioning all summer. I’m kinda a stickler for leaving sidewalks for walkers/less able bodied, so there are times I’m more brave for the kids riding with me on the street than they are for themselves. It can be scary out there.

Last but not least, I’ve been exploring greenways more, without a destination. I’ve even gotten a bit lost. It’s really fantastic.

Oh! I found out the hard way you want to keep those fender guide wire tips covered. Filled my shoe with blood & took 3 deep stitches. :rofl: Grace has never been my strength.

I applied for a job I didn’t get in East Vancouver, WA, and just to let you know, if I would have gotten it… I just would upgrade to an ebike for the commute. :smiley:

So yeah. There are times, for like an hour, it’s a PITA to work out alternative transportation when I need it or need to haul kids to pediatrician/orthodontist/whatever, but it’s worth it. I never go running or miss the gym rats. My workout is built into my life. My kids are active, which is more challenging for patent with organized sports & play dates canceled. I’d say we are all more aware of our surroundings.

I’m rambling, but going back to winter for a second. One of the coolest things? We experience weather. It’s a wild realization how much humans insulate themselves (ourselves?) from weather. Here we are in the PNW with all the seasons of a temperature rainforest region, and how often do we spend hours in every type of weather? It’s life changing to be in all the weather. So on one hand, yeah, I’m tinkering with my waterproof pants option, on the other hand, I’m in no rush to re-insulate myself from it. I may wear earbuds (partially so I’m less neurotic about drivers after Mr. Angry), but I enjoy feeling everything around me.

So yeah. I miss you all too. You’d be so proud of me. I had physical therapy for 2 months… apparently you can have a pelvic floor that’s too tight… who knew? So when she asked me if my biking contributed, I could honestly say no. I ride properly and there little to no impact in that region. :rofl::raised_hands:

Ok. Really am done rambling now.


Evidence of summer well spent :two_hearts:

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You are a great inspiration, Becky Jo! ‘Grats on hanging tough & car free. Nice pics, and the heart shape shades on the kiddo are beyond adorable.

Rain gear usually stirs up discussion. I’m a breathable laminate fan (GoreTex my fav) but sewing it’s a challenge. Maybe there is better seam tape than in the past? Otherwise it’s ugly cement sealers.


Excellent! When I get the pattern perfected I’ll head to Seattle Fabrics & ask them if there are improved options. They carry all the real outdoor maker supplies. Our only real supplier here down on SE 2nd & Stark just closed up. :sob: Thank you for the R&D tip. :raising_hand_woman:t2:

Awesome! Yeah, as someone who still has that money-sucking car sitting there in the driveway most all of the time, it is great to read your experiences of finally just getting rid of it altogether and what that has been like.
I find/found it super fascinating and, yes, inspiring, and something I hope to attain one of these days. I don’t know what it’s going to take to finally get rid of it, but that day is coming, I swear to god.

I have yet to get back on the bus, I think it is only a matter of time, and also looking forward to the new Bikeshare electric bikes, which will possibly also be convenient, even though the service area is JUST out of reach of my neighborhood, I hope I can take a quick walk to a station. We’ll see.

On winter gear, I am pretty bad, personally. I have gloves and a rain jacket, but maybe since I’ve just ridden so long in this climate, it doesn’t affect me as much? Or I don’t care? I’m kinda stupid? I don’t know, I definitely get pretty wet sometimes, but that’s just because of bad/ non-existent planning. I always have an extra pair of socks with me, though. That’s one thing I do that seems not COMPLETELY boneheaded.

Okay, good to hear you are still car-free & didn’t lease a new Ford F150. Ha!


Oh, and Jonathan,
I’ll keep my ear out for other folks who may want to write.


Ha! There are days when renting or getting a get-around is seriously a downer and after Mr Angry forced me off of the road over by Providence, I took the bus the remaining trips to physical therapy… so yeah. There are days I really wish I had that car parked in the driveway. It may just be this time of year being hectic & the news cycle of constant drama that has me down. I don’t know. But if I ever do cave, it certainly won’t be an F150!

Well, you just made yourself another fan. My name is Lee, she/her, and it is nice to meet you, Becky Jo.
(and everyone else!)

I full on want articles like these. If this is something Jonathan can provide, he will have another frequent reader. Everyday life riding, challenges and how to meet, go around or go through these challenges… yes, please. I have found cycling harder and grieve often about what I thought this city for cyclists would look like by now.

I’ve been lurking on since I moved here specifically to work in a bike shop when I was 23. I am 37 now. I spent over ten years car free. I had to move due to rent increases in inner Portland to near Gresham and felt unsafe on the roads near my new home. I ended up getting a vehicle in 2018. I hated it and it really lowered my quality of life. Surroundings matter!

I only started to bike again this summer. I will reluctantly admit I get a lot of local news from r/portland and comments from this site. It can be very disheartening a lot of the time. Life seems so much more dangerous out there and in a scary way.

All I can say is: I am trying. After three years on the outskirts of E Portland the house I live in is being sold and I am looking for a new place to live again. The goal is to come back in closer and go back to a car-free lifestyle that I once loved and knew so well.

I will add a few last thoughts…returning to cycling occasionally this summer felt amazing. The love of bikes and riding doesn’t go away. The mental benefits are very hard to beat; exercise, awareness, all the free boxes! The extreme driving people are doing, the feeling of a loss of manners & respect that was passed around and the extreme weather are my new major concerns when riding today.

Thanks for having a forum for me to share. It felt nice to write all of this.