CityBeat: Why don’t you have a car? Are you poor or something?
Jeff Beyer: Well, I have more money than some, and less than many. However, the main reason I don’t have a car is not because of money. While I do save a lot of money on insurance payments and petro-dollars, I just really don’t like being so dependent on a car — both psychologically and logistically, that is. I feel like I am missing out on a lot of things by riding around in a car. I mean it’s true that I could be listening to my favorite “Metallica/Def Leppard/Staind” loop on my WEBN preset, but I’ll just catch the long playlist at this year’s fireworks, so nothing lost there.
CB: Oh, OK. What’s it like using a bicycle as your primary form of transportation?
JB: It’s not so bad. I live downtown and most of my business, free-time diversions and errands take place there, or in a neighboring area, i.e. Clifton, Northside, Newport, or … Montgomery. So, you know, it’s completely practical.
CB: Have you seen how high the gas prices are these days? Do you have sympathy for people who have to pay for gas no matter how much it costs, or do you file that in the “I finally got to win one” category?
JB: I generally try not to partake in “Schadenfreude,” even if there does seem to be some kind of feeling of vindication involved. I am not a bicycle fascist, nor am I even a mild right-wing bicycle nationalist. So I try to have sympathy for motorists when they are suffering, even if they have mistreated me in the past. I mean how much is gas these days? $3? That shit is ridiculous.
CB: What are the best aspects of not owning a car? What are the worst?
JB: The best: No insurance costs.
No maintenance costs. No waiting in traffic. Less guilt about U.S. support of autocratic leaders in oil-rich countries. Less time at your aunt’s house for Christmas because you got a ride from your uncle who always leaves early. Less time sitting. More time flying.
The worst: No heater in the winter. No windshield in the rain. No dashboard lights to keep you company on night rides. No respect from inconsiderate motorists who believe bikes are toys. Nowhere to put construction materials when you want to rehab a house. And, in Cincinnati, trying to get absolutely anywhere outside of bike distance on a Sunday.
CB: Do cars ever scare you? Do you ever scare them?
JB: Yeah, I am always looking out for cars. This is not Portland, Oregon. Cars and their operators here do not have the same awareness as their more conscious counterparts in more bicycle-friendly cities. But for the most part drivers here are polite, and thus their cars do not scare me. On the other hand, I will yell enlightening truths at any driver who seeks to intimidate, swerve at and/or honk at me. Some people are scared of the truth.
CB: Have you ever used a bike as a primary form of transportation in a more bike-friendly city, such as, say, Berlin, Germany?
JB: Well, actually it’s funny you should ask. I have used my bike for transport in that very city. Berlin has a bike path along every street in the city. The paths are on the cobblestone sidewalk ubiquitous throughout the city and suburbs. The paths are composed of a darker stone for easy recognition, so sometimes you have to steer around the random tourist who assumes that the stones are marking where “The Wall” used to be. Also, there are often traffic lights designated only for bicycles, so there is no confusion between the cars and cyclists.
CB: What would you like to see Cincinnati do to become more bike-friendly?
JB: A good start would be bike lanes on every major street, more frequently running buses with bike racks, roundabouts to slow motorists down and add green space. And a Jim Tarbell signature bike manufactured in Cincinnati to inspire bike ridership, or a John Boehner model for those who don’t like Tarbell.
CB: What else is enjoyable about using a bike so much? Do you have a favorite ride in Cincinnati?
JB: It is motion with a purpose. The only thing you are taking advantage of is the mechanical gain of a simple lever. It is ancient principle and it is as relevant today as it was in antiquity.
My favorite ride is bombing Clifton Avenue’s hill into the city at night. As you carve around Bellevue Hill, the lighted city is there like a marquee and you’ve already paid in full. You just coast on in. Oh, and Reds games. I like to wait ‘til 7:05 and fly down Vine and chain my Mongoose up and run in before the opening pitch. Yeah, that’s right. I said Mongoose. So what?
CB: Do you have a favorite bike-themed movie?
JB: American Flyers because of the plot twist at the end and Kevin Costner’s mustache.