Thousands learn joy of no car

Sunday, May 15, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:05 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Bikers and walkers stopped by Boone Tavern early Friday morning to grab some free breakfast as they traveled to their destinations.

Boone Tavern was one of 10 breakfast stops around Columbia set up for Bike, Walk and Wheel Week, a week-long celebration of alternative transportation.

More than 1,600 people registered for Bike, Walk, and Wheel Week this year, and Ian Thomas of the PedNet Coalition expects that the official number will be close to 2,000 once all the registration forms are added up. Last year 1,375 people participated in the event.

For some, Friday's breakfast was the first opportunity to leave the car at home. Ken Asher said he and his family ride their bikes to the breakfast every year.

"Every family should start their day like this," said Susan Asher, his wife.

For others, getting around town without a car has been a daily part of their lives.

"This week hasn't really been a change for me," Will Gust said. "My car broke down in mid-February, so I've been riding my bike around town ever since."

However, the week wasn't dull for Gust. He rode his bike to Rocheport on Wednesday and was on his way back to Columbia when the thunderstorm hit.

"I rode 16 miles in the heart of the storm," Gust said. "I was hailed on, there were tornado sirens, everything."

For David Owens, the general manager of KOPN/89.5FM, commuting by bike wasn't a change either. He bikes to work about 200 days a year.

"It was different because there were more people out," Owens said. "There was a lot more traffic on foot and wheels."

Mayor Darwin Hindman and his wife Axie Hindman stopped at Boone Tavern as they made their way around to the various breakfast stations.

Mayor Hindman said he tries to ride his bike to work as many days as he can.

"Biking doesn't take much longer and in some cases takes less time," Hindman said. "You're not polluting the air and having more fun."

Axie Hindman decided to walk to the store earlier in the week.

"I've been thinking about doing it," she said. "My husband said it wouldn't take any longer and I don't think it did. I think I'm going to do it some more."

Thomas said Bike, Walk and Wheel Week often changes people.

"A lot of people try it thinking it will be hard," Thomas said. "They realize it's fun and not as hard as they think."

Thomas grew up in England and biking has always been a form of commuting for him. He didn't pass a driver's test until he was 30.

"I think in the next 10 years there will be a big shift to make Columbia a more bikeable and walkable community," he said.

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