BONUS: Coach Balto’s Bike Bus Lessons

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Sam Balto, a young bearded man wearing a bike helmet and reflective vest, stands in front of a bunch of kids with bikes who are part of a bike bus in Portland, Oregon.

While working on Episode 110, Back to School with the Bike Bus, we spoke with Sam Balto, a phys ed teacher in Portland, Oregon, who goes by @CoachBalto and who’s become one of the most visible advocates in the global movement for active transportation for kids.

We used some of his comments in that episode, but our conversation was so juicy we knew we wanted to share it in full.

Sam does a great job of explaining why bike buses are so much fun and so good for kids, and why you might find yourself tearing up when you watch his videos: “We want our children to thrive. And the bike bus movement is sort of the first story of children thriving since the pandemic.”

Sam’s Portland bike bus is getting national attention. You can follow him on InstagramTikTok, and that other platform.

Maybe you’ll be inspired to start a bike bus or walking school bus where you live!

***This is a preview of a Patreon bonus episode. To hear the full episode and for complete access to all our exclusive bonus content become a Patreon supporter of The War on Cars.***

110. Back to School with the Bike Bus

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If you’ve never heard of a bike bus—or a bicibús, as it’s known in the Catalonian capital of Barcelona—it’s a beautifully simple idea. Kids and parents ride their bikes to school along a pre-planned route, picking up classmates along the way, just the way a school bus would. Except because it’s bikes, it’s way, way more fun. Sarah and Doug rode along with bike buses in Barcelona and suburban Montclair, New Jersey, to see how it works, and we talked with organizer Sam Balto in Portland, Oregon, to find out why kids who ride with bike buses get to school feeling happy and energized.

You can find the full transcript of this episode here.

***Support The War on Cars on Patreon and receive access to ad-free versions of all our episodes, exclusive bonus content and stickers.***

This episode is produced with support from Radpower Bikes and Cleverhood. Listen to the episode for the latest Cleverhood discount code.

LINKS:

See what a “Kidical Mass” ride looks like in Barcelona.

This half-hour documentary takes a deeper look at the bike bus and Kidical Mass movements in Barcelona (with English subtitles; costs €1 to rent).

Sam Balto’s Portland bike bus is getting national attention. You can follow him on Instagram, TikTok, and that other platform.

Learn more about the Montclair Bike Bus.

Buy official War on Cars merch at our store

Find us on Mastodon, Bluesky, Instagram, Facebook, Threads, and whatever godforsaken new social media platform pops up next. 

Follow and review us on Apple Podcasts

TheWarOnCars.org

 

109. Inclusive Transportation with Veronica O. Davis

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In her new book, Inclusive Transportation: A Manifesto for Repairing Divided Communities, Veronica O. Davis — the Director of Transportation and Drainage Operations for the city of Houston, Texas — takes a hard look at the ways in which planning a world for cars has harmed communities and how that affects anyone working to change things today. How do you repair a system that continues to divide communities? In a world where “equity” can sometimes just be a buzzword, what does equity truly look like if we can achieve it?

Davis tells her own “transportation story,” asks readers to think about their own, and urges transportation professionals to consider past injustices and do the hard work that results in more than an idea and a catchphrase. She also has a lot of advice for how to approach community engagement and the different types of “stakeholders” who can make or break a street improvement project.

***Support The War on Cars on Patreon and receive access to ad-free versions of all our episodes, exclusive bonus content and stickers.***

This episode is produced with support from Radpower Bikes and Cleverhood. Listen to the episode for the latest Cleverhood discount code.

LINKS:

Buy Inclusive Transportation: A Manifesto for Repairing Divided Communities, and books by other guests of The War on Cars at our official page on Bookshop.org.

Learn more about Veronica O. Davis.

Pick up some official podcast merch at our store.

Follow and review The War on Cars on Apple Podcasts. It helps people find us!

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TEASER: Chaos in the Bike Lane with Aaron Gordon

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The rising problem of mopeds and motorcycles in New York City bike lanes is impossible to ignore but the solutions are anything but simple.

Recently, journalist and friend of the podcast Aaron Gordon wrote an essay for his newsletter titled “Biking in New York City Has Gotten Worse,” in which he laments the change that’s happened in recent years of larger and faster motorized vehicles using the city’s bike lanes. We’re not talking pedal-assist e-bikes and cargo bikes or even the Arrow e-bikes that have long been preferred by New York’s delivery workers. We’re talking full-on mopeds and motorcycles—electric and gas-powered alike—many of which are unlicensed and, even if they did have the proper registration, generally do not belong in bike lanes.

In this coversation, we talk about how and why this problem has grown, largely due to the major food-delivery app companies which wash their hands of any responsibility for providing their workers, all of whom are categorized not as employees but as contractors, with fair wages, benefits, and even street-legal vehicles.

Can government force the app companies to step up? What should people who advocate for safe streets and bike infrastructure do? It’s complicated.

***This is a preview of a Patreon bonus episode. To hear the full episode and for complete access to all our exclusive bonus content become a Patreon supporter of The War on Cars.***

EXTRA: Inside Automotive Journalism with Bob Sorokanich

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***This is a bonus episode that was previously only available to Patreon supporters of The War on Cars. If you want to hear more bonus episodes like this, please enlist today! We’ll taking a very short summer break and will be back with a new episode next week.***

Have you ever wondered what the reporters who cover the auto industry think about oversized SUVs and pickups and whether the fever for these gas-guzzling, space-hogging, planet-heating and people-killing monstrosities will ever break? Bob Sorokanich has some opinions.

Bob Sorokanich was the Editor-In-Chief of Jalopnik the news site about cars, the auto industry and transportation in general. He was also the longstanding Deputy Editor of Road & Track, one of the most historic and important auto magazines in the U.S., if not the world.

In this expansive conversation, Bob talks about the changing face of automotive journalism and what it’s like being a city resident, cyclist and public transit rider who also loves cars. We heard about what he drives, his thoughts on what it will take to win the war on cars, and why even the most died-in-the-wool car enthusiasts hate the kind of driving they typically experience today.

You can find the full transcript of this episode here.

LINKS:

According to Bob: Public Transit Is a Car Enthusiast’s Best Friend

Doug’s piece for Jalopnik: What I Mean When I Say ‘Ban Cars’

Pick up official podcast merch at The War on Cars store.

Check out our list of recommended books at Bookshop.org.

TheWarOnCars.org

TEASER: Live from New York!

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This special episode of The War on Cars was recorded live before a sold-out audience at Caveat on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and was styled after a community board meeting… except instead of people yelling at each other about parking spaces, bike lanes and neighborhood character, a fantastic time was had by all.

***This is a preview of a Patreon-exclusive bonus episode. For complete access to this and all of our bonus content, become a Patreon supporter of The War on Cars.***

108. Traffication with Paul Donald

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In his groundbreaking book, Traffication: How Cars Destroy Nature and What We Can Do About It, scientist and researcher Paul Donald synthesizes dozens of studies to help us understand what cars and roads do to living things. Paul makes the case that cars ruin more than cities—they also ruin the countryside by fragmenting habitat and creating a neverending barrage of threats and stressors for animals of all kinds. The danger posed by the car to nature, he suggests, is existential.

We talked with Paul Donald about his book, why he coined the term “traffication” and what he thinks we can do about it.

You can find the full transcript of this episode here.

***Support The War on Cars on Patreon and receive access to ad-free versions of all our episodes, exclusive bonus content and stickers.***

This episode is produced with support from Radpower Bikes and Cleverhood. Listen to the episode for the latest Cleverhood discount code.

LINKS:

Pick up a copy of Traffication: How Cars Destroy Nature and What We Can Do About It  as well as books by other guests of The War on Cars at our official Bookshop.org page.

Buy official War on Cars merch at our store. Have you seen the new “Make Love Not Cars” t-shirts?

Find us on Mastodon, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Threads, and whatever godforsaken new social media platform pops up next. 

Follow and review us on Apple Podcasts. It is a huge help to us as it helps other people find The War on Cars!

TheWarOnCars.org

SPECIAL: Freeway Exit

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This is a special presentation of the first episode of Freeway Exit, a six-part series produced by award-winning reporter Andrew Bowen of KPBS Public Media in San Diego, California. Freeway Exit reveals the mostly forgotten history of how Southern California’s urban freeway network was built. It tells the story of the citizens and public servants who fought these projects and how decades after that network was finished, some communities are still working to heal the wounds that freeways left behind. While Freeway Exit focuses specifically on the urban highways of Southern California, the story that Andrew tells is universal: Freeways aren’t free. We pay for them in all kinds of ways — with our tax dollars, our time, our environment and our health. In the 20th century we planned, designed, and built highways through the middle of our cities. In the 21st century we can and must plan, design, and build something else better in their place.

Find all six episodes of Freeway Exit right here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Meet reporter Andrew Bowen of KPBS. You can also find him on Mastodon and Twitter.

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Enlist in The War on Cars as a Patreon supporter! You’ll get ad-free episodes, access to exclusive bonus content, and we’ll send you free stickers.

Buy some official War on Cars merch at our store. Have you seen the new “Make Love Not Cars” t-shirts?

Subscribe to our newsletter, The Traffic Report, on Substack.

Find us on MastodonInstagramTwitterFacebookThreads, and whatever godforsaken new social media platform pops up next.

Follow and review us on Apple Podcasts.

TheWarOnCars.org

107. Is It Worth It To Confront Drivers?

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Illustration by Andy Singer.

Have you ever been walking across the street when a driver turned into your path and almost hit you? Or riding your bike when a hostile horn-honker laid into you for delaying them to the next red light by a few seconds? If you spend any amount of time on a city’s streets outside of the protective shell of a two-ton automobile, you’ve probably had frustrating, frightening, and infuriating experiences like these. How did you respond? Did you lash out verbally, or give them the finger? Mutter under your breath and walk away? Did you dare lay hands on their precious vehicle? Or did you do the sensible thing and buy a ten-pack of War on Cars stickers to slap up around your neighborhood? In this episode, Doug, Sarah and Aaron share their own experiences of close calls they’ve had with cars, plus strategies for coping. And we hear tips and stories from listeners as well.

You can find the full transcript of this episode here.

This episode is produced with support from Rad Power Bikes.

*** Support The War on Cars on Patreon and you’ll be tipped off to listener participation episodes like this one, you’ll receive access to ad-free versions of all our episodes, special bonus content, stickers, and more! ***

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Pick up official podcast tees and other merch in our official store.

This episode was edited by Ali Lemer. It was recorded by Josh Wilcox at the Brooklyn Podcasting Studio. Our theme music is by Nathaniel Goodyear.

TheWarOnCars.org

106. Nick Offerman

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You may know the actor Nick Offerman as the gruff city parks director Ron Swanson on the NBC comedy Parks and Recreation or from his turn as the survivalist Bill on the HBO series The Last of Us, but he also has a lot to say about how people get around, share public space, and relate to nature. In his book Where the Deer and the Antelope Play: The Pastoral Observations of One Ignorant American Who Loves to Walk Outside, Nick takes a wry and philosophical approach to our stewardship of Planet Earth, the value of working with one’s hands, and the many problems with the massive agricultural systems on which we all depend. Nick Offerman joins The War on Cars to talk about his experience biking for transportation in New York City and Los Angeles, his views on masculinity and conspicuous consumption, and why the best way to explore an unfamiliar city is at the speed of a good walk.

You can find the full transcript of this episode here.

This episode is produced with support from Cleverhood. Listen to the episode for the latest 15% discount code.

***Support The War on Cars on Patreon and receive access to ad-free versions of all our episodes, special bonus content and stickers!***

LINKS:

Read Nick Offerman’s Call of the Candy-Ass in Outside Online.

Pick up a copy of Where the Deer and the Antelope Play: The Pastoral Observations of One Ignorant American Who Loves to Walk Outside as well as books by other guests of The War on Cars at our official Bookshop.org page.

Read Pastoral Song by James Rebanks. (Published in the UK as English Pastoral.)

Watch the film Sacred Cow, narrated by Nick Offerman. And read the book!

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Pick up official podcast tees and other merch in our official store.

This episode was edited by Ali Lemer. It was recorded by Felix Levine. Our theme music is by Nathaniel Goodyear.

TheWarOnCars.org