robert zverina

community > Carfree Fremont, September 16 2001





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Seattle Press, September 13, 2001
Alternative Transportation Education, Fremont Style by Julie Reinhardt

Sunday, September 16 [2001] kicks off the first ever Car-Free Fremont. Whether you are celebrating a day of independence from cars, or you just want to have fun without looking both ways before you cross the street, the day is filled with revelry from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Activities range from the creative Artbike Rally and Bike Decoration workshop, to educational panels on car-free living, to the downright goofy belly dancing couples' workshop. Though technically belly dancing is not a form of transportation, it is sans vehicle and much more fun than the morning commute.

The focus for this event is not just about reducing our use of cars, said co-organizer Sarah Kavage, it's also about creating community and "having fun together in a space that is typically filled up with cars...huge boxes of metal speeding through the streets."

Kavage and Robert Zverina have "had to really crunch to get all the permits together" since May after receiving a Car Smart Community Grant. The idea met enthusiasm and support from the Fremont Arts Council, the Neighborhood Council and regular Fremontsters. "This is a demonstration project. It's a start to get the idea out there that there are different ways we can structure our cities--around people rather than around cars," explained Kavage.

Rob Zverina, who "grew up in a very intense car culture--Long Island and New York, where it was pretty much assumed that cars were the way to get around." said he "realized there is a better way of living" after living in Prague for a year. "I was blown away by the mass transit system they have there. Since that time I've never wanted a car. They isolate people from one another, they pollute the environment and they literally kill 40,000-50,000 people every year. So there is a need to re-think our habit and demand better options."

Panel discussions and many attending advocacy groups will address our regional traffic and pollution problem. Seattle's move to third-worst traffic congestion in the country and the political gridlock this summer in Olympia over what to do about it make this event well-timed. The fact is that the average car in King County makes 12 vehicle trips a day, and nearly half of those are to destinations less than three miles away. States Kavage, "The more types of people who get involved in the dialogue the better. It's not about selling your car - you don't have to sell your car. There are no rules about how you go about this. All you have to do is open your mind to what else is out there. Even if you drive one less day to work, that makes a difference in the emissions you put out there."

Not all serious stuff, this event celebrates tomfoolery too. Don't miss the Roller Disco, local artists' bike-rack sculptures, and free in-line skating lessons. The movie "Breaking Away", a beer garden and auction all benefit Bikeworks, a southend, non-profit bicycle repair shop. Bikeworks runs community programs like Earn-a-Bike, teaching kids bicycle repair that lets them exchange work for a bike of their own. Oh - and did we mention the beer?

Kavage and Zverina hope grassroots support will take this idea to other communities, "We hope to set a precedent. We'd like to export the event to other communities in Seattle and beyond." For a complete schedule, go to www.thinksmall.org.