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Interview With Liam Quigley

The Idea Of Order in Miami

After some server problems and a much needed hiatus in Miami, I’m back and bringing it for real.  Quick observations about Miami:

  • Lots of new bike lanes on 5 lane arterials with average speeds of 50mph. Really? I didn’t use them, and hardly anyone else did while I was there. Need more cycle tracks.
  • Three words: Art Deco everything.  Hotel lobbies straight out of Mad Men.
  • Crazy attractive women.
  • Metro system surprisingly useful. Buses surprisingly clean and on time.  New metro link to airport and multi-modal transportation center will be a boon to the system.
  • Paradise Radio will take you there on your drive to Key West.
  • Crazy attractive women.

Now for our feature presentation. Liam Quigley is the president of the MICA cycling association and regularly commutes by bike between Downtown and Upper Charles Village.  He contributes to the Baltimore Brew and writes for Baltimore Velo.

Some people want to save the world. Others just want to save a buck. What inspired you to reduce your car use?

My car use has actually increased this year since I started using Zipcar, from driving very occasionally (only while moving) to driving when it makes sense, like somewhere accessible only by automobile. My commuting has always been by bicycle or public transit, but now I have access to cars when I need them without the financial burden of owning one.

Suburbanites say some crazy things about this city. Did you have any fears about traveling in Baltimore without a car? Are any of those concerns still an issue for you?

I’ve had my fair share of aggressive overtakers, right-hooks, and general negative encounters on the streets, but nothing that would ever make me consider changing the way I commute. There are plenty of neighborhoods that I feel more comfortable riding a bicycle in than walking through.

What’s the coolest place in Baltimore (a park, cafe, bar, neighborhood, etc) you discovered that you wouldn’t have had you not ditched your car?

Almost every good place I’ve found in Baltimore has been by walking or bicycling there.

When you’re in a car, you can wear pretty much whatever, but you have to be more prepared when you’re outside. Plus, more people see you on a bus or on a bike compared to driving. Has your clothing style changed at all since going car lite/car free?

I feel pretty strongly that it is very possible to look really good and still ride your bike places. I’ve had longer commutes and just pack an extra t-shirt. I have yet to find myself comprising my clothing for my method of commuting or vice versa. I’ve always though that people who say bicycling won’t “take off” until there are showers at every office building are probably overdressed.

Part of the beauty of cities is serendipity. Finding something meaningful in an unexpected place. Is there a person or event you’ve encountered while walking/biking/taking transit that stands out?

Most of my significant ‘finds’ in Baltimore have been by bike, and I end up returning to these places by bike over and over again. It’s so much easier to go between neighborhoods by bicycle.

After living car free for a year, I would find it difficult to move back to an auto-dominated suburb, but the “American Dream” is still identified with a big single family house with a huge yard and an SUV. Has your idea of the “American Dream” changed at all?

Never has.

How can we make living car lite/car free an option for more people in Baltimore?

Start with buses that run on time and incentivizing public transit. Legitimizing bicycling as a transportation device even further would be great.

We need a group like Transportation Alternatives in Baltimore, and serious penalties for drivers who kill or injure pedestrians and cyclists.

We will also never succeed in this until we take care of pedestrians properly. Walking in Baltimore really sucks. The lights don’t change for you (even if there are lights), the crosswalks are non-existent, and drivers treat pedestrians like shit.