This week’s questions comes from reader Joe W.
Joe has a problem. His friend is a “car addict” and Joe wants to help him quit, but it’s a sensitive subject. Can you help? Here’s Joe’s question:
“I’m trying to figure out how to help a car addict quit, or at least use responsibly. I’ve found, at least with this person, that conversations around this topic quickly get personal, and end up accomplishing nothing. A lifetime of using has intertwined mode of transportation with self, much like with diet choices (or lack thereof) in many people.
What are some well written, tasteful books, literature, movies, etc. that might help this person? I’m especially interested in things that are less “bike are the best” heavy, and focus more on the overall picture of an un-balanced transportation system. I feel like those would be best received.
I really care about this person, and don’t want to make them feel that they must change; but they’re so addicted it’s sad.
Do you have any tips on how to help someone make that first step towards getting the blinders off? What has worked for you? What hasn’t worked?”
Great question Joe. If your friend likes to read, choose something from the Cars and Alternatives bookshelf in the BikePortland Bookstore. Specifically, you might try How to Live Well Without Owning a Car: Save Money, Breathe Easier, and Get More Mileage Out of Life by Chris Balish.
For educational and inspirational videos about cars, bikes and their respective impacts on our lives, browse around the Streetfilms collection. They just posted a great profile of a regular NYC celebrity who’s been biking around on a old used bike for over 20 years.
Another great first step might be to accompany your friend on a ride. Check the Shift calendar for regularly scheduled, free and fun rides.
I’ve found that just leading by example tends to work. If your friend sees you riding, having fun, staying fit, and enjoying all the benefits of biking, chances are they’ll eventually join you.
What other tips do you have for Joe’s friend? Have you ever tried to wean a friend off car overuse? What works? What doesn’t?
— Learn more in the Ask BikePortland archives and submit your burning bike question to jonathan[at]bikeportland[dot]org.