Couple goes carless for 30 days
Nathan and Kristin Pickard chose an unconventional way to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary. On Jan. 8, while most Tulsans were packing their cars with water bottles, flashlights and warm blankets — just in case the still-icy streets got the better of their vehicles — the Pickards planned the next 30 days of their lives without an automobile.
As chronicled on their blog, www.carlessintulsa.blogspot.com, the couple decided to spend a month without a car, using bicycles as their primary mode of transportation.
The plan came to fruition as the Pickards contemplated purchasing a membership to downtown’s new YMCA, at Fifth and Main Streets. The idea of driving to a gym to spend hours sweating on a stationary bike struck the couple as funny, and, rather than do that, they decided to challenge themselves to use vehicular cycling as a means of exercise.
It wasn’t an impractical feat. The couple resides in Brady Heights, just north of downtown on Denver Avenue, and Nathan Pickard, an internal auditor for the City, frequently bikes to City Hall. Kristin Pickard is a physician’s assistant at St. John Medical Center, at 21st Street and Utica Avenue, and less experienced at navigating city streets via bicycle, so Nathan Pickard escorts his wife to work daily and then rides back to City Hall.
The couple began their project Jan. 9 and will end it Feb. 9. Although it was 18 degrees and icy when they initiated their scheme, the Pickards said going carless has been easier than they imagined.
“The day we started, I didn’t know if we could keep it up if it was going to be that cold,” KristinPickard said. “But we made it OK at 18 degrees, and it’s been that much nicer since it’s warmed up.”
“I guess a lot of people probably think January’s an impossible month to do it and a reason not to, like, ever go without a car,” Nathan Pickard said. “So we wanted to see if it could actually be done all year ‘round, biking.”
Using the INCOG’s Web site as a guide, the couple familiarized themselves with Tulsa’s bike trails and Share the Road streets and planned a route that would keep them off main thoroughfares as much as possible.
“It’s a lot safer than you think,” Nathan Pickard said. “We actually do have a good system here in Tulsa.”
The couple said challenging themselves to go completely carless was integral to their plan to bike more often.
“I don’t think, if we hadn’t completely given up the car, we would have the discipline to do it,” Kristin Pickard said.
Blogging about their experience has served to inform others that, believe it or not, going carless in Tulsa can be done — sort of.
The couple has managed to do their grocery shopping, run minor errands and make it to church at 51st Street and Sheridan Road all on bike, but they’ve taken a break from restoring their historic home because, as Kristin Pickard said, “you can’t really carry two-by-fours on your bike.”
Still, they’ve considered what they’ve accomplished as proof that vehicular cycling is an option.
“We were really hoping to show that it is a transportation alternative in Tulsa,” Nathan Pickard said.
“Most people will say, ‘That’s a really cool idea. I could never do that,’” Kristin Pickard said. “I think they’re just too scared of biking in Tulsa. Either they live somewhere where it really is prohibitive, or they think the streets are too narrow or cars are too crazy, and they don’t think outside the box.”
The couple likely won’t continue to be completely carless following their project’s end. But they do think they’ll bike more often.
“Definitely anything less than four miles is really doable,” Kristin Pickard said.
“We’ve just been realizing we should have been biking to this event and this event because it’s so easy and enjoyable,” Nathan Pickard said. “Especially stuff downtown. Why’d we ever hop in a car?”