Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Independence from oil: Advocacy groups launch ‘Gas Free Fridays’ campaign

Posted by on July 1st, 2008 at 10:19 am

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Larger version here (PDF)

The Portland-based Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) has joined onto a campaign with bicycle advocacy groups from New York City, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C., to help launch Independence from Oil Day.

The effort will kick off this Friday (July 4th), and the idea is garner media attention while calling on Americans to take part in “Gas Free Fridays” and pledge to make more gas-free trips.

The campaign also hopes to put bike-related legislation in the spotlight of Congress during the General Election and in the run-up to the reauthorization of the Transportation bill next year.

The group behind this effort is an informal coalition that calls themselves the Urban Bike Caucus.

The group includes the leaders of bike advocacy organizations from several major U.S. cities including:

  • Paul Steely White, Transportation Alternatives (NYC);
  • Eric Gilliland, Washington Area Bicyclist Association
  • Jeffrey Miller, Thunderhead Alliance;
  • Randy Neufeld, Chicagoland Bicycle Federation;
  • Scott Bricker, Bike Pittsburgh (yes, the same name as Bricker from the BTA);
  • Leah Shahum, The San Francisco Bike Coalition;
  • Rob Sadowsky, Chicagoland Bicycle Federation;
  • Noah Budnick, Transportation Alternatives;
  • and Alex Doty, the Bicycle Coaltion of Greater Philadelphia.

Members of the Urban Bike Caucus at a meeting in Chicago in early June.
(Photo: Philadelphia Bicycle News)

Karl Rohde, the BTA’s government and public affairs director says this campaign also illustrates their growing commitment to work with other advocacy groups and leverage their membership base to support bike-friendly legislation on the federal level. “It’s kind of a rallying call to Congress,” he told me via phone this morning, “We [the ad hoc coalition] will send out an action alert to Congress urging them to support bike-related legislation.”

Rohde said examples of legislation they will make congress aware of include Complete Streets bills, the National Bike Bill, and the Gas Price Relief Act that was introduced by Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer yesterday.

As for the pledge, Rohde says the group is still working on a website so people can get involved with the campaign.

Read the full press release here (PDF, 108KB).

This campaign reminds me of something I did three years ago (before I launched BikePortland.org and was still blogging on Oregonlive.com). I posted the Freedom From Cars Declaration on July 4th, 2005 and asked folks to sign on.

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  • a.O July 1, 2008 at 11:01 am

    All that money Americans use to buy gasoline goes straight into the hands of wealthy Arabs who use the it to fund the terrorists who blow up our boys in Iraq and Afghanistan. Buying gasoline is treason. How are we going to win this war if Americans who drive keep financing the enemy? Ride your bike for freedom. Ride your bike to win the Global War on Terror.

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  • Donald July 1, 2008 at 11:08 am

    I have always posited that pedaling is patriotic.

    Plump pumping muscles is purely a plus.

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  • bahueh July 1, 2008 at 11:10 am

    a.o…not sure how many terrorists the House of Saud is financing…and we get most of our gas from Canada and Alaska here in this Pacific Northwest anyway..
    but you\’re keeping in line with the holiday so good on you…

    now go pin an american flag on your jacket..

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  • sarah July 1, 2008 at 11:30 am

    Buying gasoline is treason? Ride your bike to win the war on terror?? Way too simplistic and woefully naive. Please step away from the bong.

    What if your bike is made in Taiwan? Now, that gets a little messy doesn\’t it…

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  • gman July 1, 2008 at 11:31 am

    Cool – bahueh has a clue to the facts… either way, nothing beats human power going forward (or backward, for uni\’s).


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  • a.O July 1, 2008 at 11:46 am

    I guess sarcasm doesn\’t come across clearly through the internets.

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  • gman July 1, 2008 at 11:57 am

    Always best to identify the sarcasm explicitly, or it might become gospel .

    My bike was made in China, but was used. Looks like the terrorists win again?

    Have fun out there!

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  • Paul July 1, 2008 at 11:59 am

    Where\’s the html tag for sarcasm….

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  • gman July 1, 2008 at 12:07 pm
  • Todd Boulanger July 1, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    Why not \”Fuel Free Fridays\”

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  • bahueh July 1, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    a.o..I got your sarcasm…it was out there pretty thick I thought.

    these gas purchase holidays don\’t work….never will…the idea is a noble one, but the idea is not well thought through as an effective deterent to gas consumption…
    that will come in the form of LARGE SCALE public transportation systems…which currently aren\’t built.

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  • Darren July 1, 2008 at 12:37 pm


    Do you know where we can download the red, white, and blue bike poster at the top of your story? Having that available would make it easier to advertise than putting the BTA press release on the old company bulletin board.


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  • Oliver July 1, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    Not sure how many terrorists house of Saud is financing? Even the NOISE channel reports that the Saudi\’s have paid Bin Laden off.

    We also know that at least 12 of the 9-11 hijackers were Saudis, along with Public enemy No. 1 (lol, not GB) Bin Laden. To say that oil money doesn\’t finance terrorism is what is naive.

    If you do a little research it\’s possible to find companies who buy most of their oil from places other than Saudi Arabia.

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  • jamie July 1, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    pedal everyday…as for stepping away from the bong…never!

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  • DJ Hurricane July 1, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    Well, in all seriousness folks, I don\’t care how much oil we actually buy from Saudi Arabia (and the EIA figures show it\’s enough to build lots of bombs), it\’s pretty clear to me there\’s no credible explanation for the invasion and occupation of Iraq other than securing a stragetic position in defense of the world\’s remaining oil supplies.

    All the other publicly-proffered explanations have proven false, the \”false flag\” attack is a known technique used by the CIA to justify US invasion (see Gulf of Tonkin and Operation Northwoods), and Cheney has repeatedly claimed that the minutes of his meetings with the heads of big oil prior to the invasion are protected by executive privilege.

    Our economy is completely dependent on a secure flow of oil from the Middle East to not only the US but also Western Europe and Japan (where most of the Saudi oil is going) because our economy is dependent on those economies and they\’re all dependent on oil.

    Every time you buy gas you are perpetuating the perceived need for war on the part of the people who make that decision.

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  • Matthew Denton July 1, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    Regardless of where OUR oil from, (most of Portland\’s comes from Alaska; the US is the 3rd largest oil producer in the world,) the fact remains that oil is a global commodity, and there is a shortage of it, so we are just bidding the price up until people get priced out of the market. That is how markets work. The problem with that is that it raises the price of oil, and so after covering costs (of about $10/barrel), the Saudis and Iranians and a lot of other people we don\’t particularly care for make a lot of money because the price is so high…

    So if we use less oil, then Alaska and Canada have more to sell to other places, causing the price to fall. Then there isn\’t a bunch of extra money floating around in Saudi Arabia and they don\’t give it to Bin Laden…

    Or at least that is the argument that I tell my republican uncle about why I ride a bicycle, and he understands it. (It isn\’t the one I tell myself.)

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  • grrlpup July 1, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    I\’ve heard several people say they bike-commute every day except Fridays because drivers seem a little crazier at Friday rush hour. Wouldn\’t it be great if this could balance it out and make Fridays as good as other days for timid commuters like me!

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  • DT July 1, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    Even if a.O. was being sarcastic, it\’s a great argument to use on people like my parents.

    Go America! Pedal your way to global dominance!

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  • bahueh July 1, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    Oliver…you state a lot of things, but don\’t provide any evidence as to their associations. and please, FoxNews?

    if you do a little research, the PNW gets most of its gasoline from refineries in TAcoma..piped or shipped down from Valdez and points within SW and central Canada.

    you can go on hatin\’ the Sauds all you\’d like..but at least provide some evidence as to how the family is currently and directly financing terrorist activies…

    you can also go on hating gasoline and oil dynamics..but please realize you use by-products of oil every single day, including the keyboard you\’re currently typing on…

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  • maritimus July 1, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    A year or so ago my father told me of a \”refuse to buy gas day\” (or some such) in the Detroit, MI area. He said all the gas stations lowered the prices by 10 cents and people were lined up down the street.

    As for me, I\’ll keep Friday gas-free, but only because I usually do anyway.

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  • Resident July 1, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    I say we go one further and \”Take The Lane\” on Fridays!

    bike bike bike bike bike bike bike bike bike bike bike bike bike bike bike bike bike bike rest bike some more…

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  • peejay July 1, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    I\’m in agreement with Oliver. The House of Saud is filthy with money, and wants peace in their own kingdom, so they pay all sorts of groups to do their agitating and terrorizing in other countries, not in Saudi Arabia. Because oil is a commodity, every gallon of gas you buy improves the fortunes of any oil exporting country, and hurts the fortunes of any oil importing country, regardless of where that particular gallon came from. We\’re an importer, Saudi Arabia is and exporter.

    Yes, there\’s petroleum in my keyboard, in my LP records, in parts of my bike, etc. But there\’s less of it there than in the tank of your car. It\’s not all-or-nothing. You don\’t have to stop using any oil to do good; any amount you cut back is better than not. But after you cut back, ask yourself: can I use even less? Don\’t say: I can\’t get rid of all the petroleum in my life, so I don\’t care to get rid of any.

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  • Mike Perrault July 1, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    I would love to but Friday-Sunday are when I have to work at the paper for the most part. The office is 36 miles away and our coverage area is nearly 150 miles long. I wish I could do without my car, but I usually cover around 250 miles in a weekend. I don\’t ever drive here in Eugene though.

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  • Josh July 1, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    @bahueh #11:

    I agree that gas purchase holidays don\’t work to pressure oil companies to lower prices, which is how they are usually promoted. I think that they do promote the idea of alternate transportation, and may encourage people to try biking or transit for the first time. Good or bad, a habit has to start somewhere! 🙂

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  • peejay July 1, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    gas purchase holidays == silly

    gas use holidays (when not offset by greater gas use on adjacent days) == useful first steps!

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  • Donna July 1, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    All that money Americans use to buy gasoline goes straight into the hands of wealthy Arabs who use the it to fund the terrorists who blow up our boys in Iraq and Afghanistan. Buying gasoline is treason. How are we going to win this war if Americans who drive keep financing the enemy? Ride your bike for freedom. Ride your bike to win the Global War on Terror.

    I know you meant it with a heavy flavoring of sarcasm, but I believe in delivering the message in the words that the audience will hear. Many Americans will hear those words and not ones about carbon footprints, etc. Use what works. After all, it\’s definitely not a complete fabrication…

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  • El Biciclero July 1, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    I second peejay #25. Gas-use-free (Fri)days are what we are talking about, not gas-purchase-free (Fri)days. If people could get all their normal daily stuff done on Fridays (or pick your favorite day out of the week) without driving a personal motor vehicle, it would make a big difference.

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  • peejay July 1, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    El Bic

    And then see how fun it is, so keep going all weekend!

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  • Dan Kaufman July 1, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    As I\’ve said all along: I\’m riding my bike for American Independence!

    I think this is a great idea and it simply will make a difference if folks replace auto trips with bike trips.

    In the Spirit of \’76,
    \”Happy Independence day\”!

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  • Eileen July 1, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    I wonder what would happen if we really DID stop buying gas? Do you guys really think that would help terrorism? As their economy is collapsing around them, they all sit in a circle and sing kum-bay-ah, then thank Allah for making the Americans go away. Yeah…

    I do think there are bigger reasons for not buying gas, like, say, impending doom. I am a lot more worried about environmental devastation than terrorism.

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  • weastsider July 1, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    Hard to say which is worse, a biological attack or a biological collapse. Depends on which watershed your in, I suppose.

    Anyhow, I think less doom and gloom and more kum-bay-ah might just be the thing. Best yet, acoustic guitars, even drum and fife require no petroleum.

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  • Matthew Denton July 2, 2008 at 2:20 am

    So the US uses 21 MB/day of oil of which 13 MB/day are imported. The bill for just the imported oil is $644B, (at $140/barrel,) or about 5% of our economy…

    That is double what it was last year. No wonder inflation is running at 4.2%

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  • poser July 2, 2008 at 9:35 am

    Darren #12:

    I was stuck on the train last night with nothing to do – so I made a PDF file of that graphic. It will print out much better than the little JPG Jonathan posted above. Downloaded it at:


    Anyone feel free to use and distribute this.

    My 2 cents: whether \”gas-free days\” make a difference in gas prices is beside the point. Something like this will get butts on bike saddles; which we all know gets people thinking things like, \”wow! this is a lot easier than I remember!\” and \”hey! this is fun, I should do this more often\” and eventually, \”screw OPEC, my expensive car payments and that worthless gym membership – I\’m going to ride my bike to work!\”

    If we just get a few people like that every Friday, I\’d call this a success.

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  • poser July 2, 2008 at 9:50 am


    I just noticed that Jonathan posted his own PDF file. Darn that Maus – he\’s so fast!

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  • Joe July 2, 2008 at 11:46 am

    sweet love these rallys 🙂

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  • Eric July 3, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    While we were unable to attend the Chicago meeting, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) is part of the Urban Bike Caucus and is mentioned in the press release.

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  • 9watts June 7, 2014 at 7:22 am

    I missed this back in 2008. This new system of parking thumbnail pictures of articles possibly related at the bottom of new articles is fun. Did anything ever come of this campaign? Anyone?

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