Richard Eborn – Living a Bike-Centric, Car-Free Lifestyle in Boise, Idaho

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By Richard Eborn —

Q. Tell us a little about yourself.

A. My name is Richard Eborn. I am 60 years old. I am single, a father of five children and grandfather of nine. I work as a custodian at Boise State University.

Richard Eborn lives a car-free lifestyle in Boise, Idaho.
Richard Eborn lives a car-free lifestyle in Boise, Idaho.

Q. What motivates you to commute by bike?

A. The short answer, I give family and friends, is that it's good for my body, good for my pocketbook, and good for the planet. There are a multitude of other reasons. Take, for example, my ride to get to the University this morning. There had been rain last night. This morning, the rising sun was burning off the fog and clouds were clearing. The fall colors were splendid; the air was crisp and clear. As I was riding along the Boise Greenbelt, I was approached by a doe and buck (with a beautiful rack) who dove toward the trees and into the river when they were about fifteen feet away. Such moments are priceless, and wouldn't be nearly so appreciated from behind a windshield at 50 miles per hour.

Q. Tell us a bit about your route/ride.

A. I live a little over two miles away from my work at the University. A little better than half the distance is on the bike/pedestrian path along the Boise Greenbelt (paralleling the Boise River.) I also use my bike around Boise to visit family and friends, run errands, shopping, to church and the temple, or anywhere else I need to go.

Q. Tell us about your bike.

A. I have a Raleigh Mojave 4.0 mountain bike, a little over ten years old. In summer I use 26 X 1.5 slick tires, but I switch to 26 X 2.1 knobby tires in winter. I have a milk crate on the back for carrying items. I also have a BOB trailer for larger loads, and a Burley Bee trailer for hauling grandkids.

Q. Describe your greatest challenge to bike commuting.

A. Dealing with cold, icy, wet conditions. Sometimes, I will have to revert to walking or public transit for the week or so it may get really bad. Mostly, though, I put on lot of extra layers and ride slow.

Q. What keeps you consistently riding?

A. Not owning a car. If I had a car, it would be easy on days that it's cold or snow to simply say, “Nah, I will leave the bike in the shed today.” It's just not an option, and I am too cheap to call a cab and too proud to impose on family or friends to drive me.

Q: What are the greatest challenges you face with a car-free lifestyle?

A. Dates. As an older bachelor, I am sometimes embarrassed to let the lovely lady know that we will have to walk, ride bikes, or take her car.

Q. What advice do you have for other bike commuters or people considering bike commuting.

A. Get out and do it. I remember when I first started, over fifteen years ago, not many people in Boise commuted by bike. especially in Southwest Boise where I was living at the time. I was intimidated and concerned about traffic and how I would look. Once, however, I began to realize the benefits, the joy of bike commuting far outweighed any concerns. Go with what you have. Just about any clothes, bike, or equipment that you currently have will work. Don't spend an undue amount of time sweating and planning your route. Explore and come up with different alternatives. It's a great way to get to know the byways and people of your city.

Q. Any final comments?

A. It's gratifying to live in a city like Boise where bike commuting is really catching on. There are moments, on some roads, where the bicyclists outnumber the motorized vehicles. Our city and county government are working to improve an already pretty good situation. For example, I wrote our highway district about conditions on Walnut (a road along my daily commute.) Two weeks later, they had painted sharrows. Motorists are becoming more aware of and respectful of cyclists. It's been at least a year since I was yelled at to “get on the sidewalk.” Then, there is the “Idaho Stop” that just keeps me rolling.

If you have a suggestion for a commuter profile, have a commuter question, or other comments, please send it to [email protected]

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1 COMMENT

  1. I live in Taylorsville, Utah. The roads here are full of gravel and litter, the cars drive fast and hard. They pay no attention to cyclists except maybe to flip them off. I use what trails I can find, but most were engineered by people who don’t ride a bike. They have blind turns, to small bridges and skinny wooden trails with no room if dogs, or carriages full of kids come by. There are very few if any trails going east and west. Being Utah there are few police patrolling they just don’t want to pay for them. Try and get a map showing ways to get around, nothing. Salt Lake City was trying to make safe ways to get around, but that Mayor, who biked, is gone. Everybody else in government just wants smog, trucks and rapid transit that’s not rapid. I guess because we are a winter state this isn’t important.

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