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The Independent's Ode to the Wheel

'Round and 'Round We Go

We may never know the name of the ancient Sumerian who invented the wheel in Mesopotamia some 7,000 years ago, but we're pretty sure nothing's been the same since. The most crucial component of how we transport ourselves and our stuff, the wheel is an undeniable cornerstone of human existence, an invention that encouraged trade, enhanced agriculture, expanded civilization's range, and paved the way for the modern world. Whether you're pushing watermelons in a wheelbarrow (one wheel) or hauling refrigerators in a big rig (18 wheels), there comes a time when you've got to bow down and worship these round, rolling objects. Read story.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Fast Cars, Good Times

I'm not a "car guy"-I don't know a radiator from a carburetor, I've never been tempted to trade in my dusty pick-up for a shiny sports car, and I don't really understand the constant left-turning that is NASCAR. But, like any red-blooded boy from the good ol' U.S. of A., I grew up with posters of Ferraris and Lamborghinis on my walls, ma stered the arcade games Pole Position and Out Run, and relished that I was a passenger in a Saleen Mustang going 135 miles per hour as "my fastest ride." Read story.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Living La Vida Vespa

My scooter-riding experience was almost over before it began. As soon as I received the assignment to write about scooters in Santa Barbara, I headed to the DMV to get my motorcycle license, required by law in California for all scooter riders. With no line and a simple 25-question test waiting, I figured I didn't need to look over the handy booklet. Read story.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Zoom Motors and the Road Ahead

In the garage at Zoom Motors, the newest car dealership in Santa Barbara, a chrome figure reclines on the hood of a '59 Nash Metropolitan convertible, contemplating the road ahead. She lies patiently atop wings, her mouth formed into an enigmatic, endless smile. These are the kind of cars on which hood ornaments served as the driver's crosshairs, the target to shoot down the miles of highway as one sped along. At Zoom, the promise of yesterday is the currency by which it is buying its future. Read story.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Lucky Cab Jumpstarts Eco-Friendly Taxiing in Santa Barbara

While the greenest of green elitists will go out of their way to demean the car as a worthless, wasteful pollutant, most can concede there are certain instances when four wheels and a motor are just downright necessary. For example: luggage-filled trips to the train station, picking up a wheelchair-bound grandma for Thanksgiving dinner, and-perhaps most importantly-those long, drunken treks home after a night of downtown barhopping. Cue a downtown reveler's favorite form of transportation: the taxicab. Read story.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ed France Wants to Make La Casa de la Raza "BiCi Centro"

Los Angeles has long had a Bike Kitchen. San Francisco has one too, not to mention San Diego and Davis. And if Ed France-a 25-year-old cycling enthusiast two years out of UCSB-has his way, Santa Barbara will soon join the California club of culinary velocipedes. Read story.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Be a Bike Commuter

It's an odd time to be on earth. We know peak oil is approaching, the planet is getting warmer, and human-generated greenhouse gas emissions are contributing to that. You'd have to be living in a climate-controlled cave to not be worried that life as we know it is in grave danger. And yet the vast majority of us continue to get in our cars and drive alone to wherever we need to go, day after day. And in the U.S., about 50 percent of those car trips are for distances less than two miles. Read story.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Granada Garage's Bike Parking Lot Is in Full Effect

One of the chronic problems confronting downtown bike commuters is bicycle parking. There just aren't enough bollards, streets signs, and bike racks to get the job done. And not many people want to leave their high-end bikes-or even their modestly priced machines-affixed to paint-scraping surfaces or exposed to the vagaries of the elements, not to mention would-be thieves. Read story.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Car Sharing in the 21st Century

Have you ever dreamed of saving money by getting rid of your car-or your family's second car-along with auto loan payments, insurance payments, and maintenance costs? I know I have. But when I figured in the cost of taking a cab to go shopping and renting a car for a trip to the countryside, it didn't quite pencil out. Read story.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A Non-Hippie Goes Bio

The choice has been around for years now, but for whatever reason, those who choose to fuel their vehicles with earth-friendly biodiesel gasoline tend to hail from the "hippie" set. Catch a car puttering past on biodiesel and there's a good chance the driver will have a big beard, a taste for tofu, and a Grateful Dead album playing at high volumes rather than a three-piece suit, a $60 haircut, and a healthy stock portfolio. Read story.

Thursday, June 14, 2007
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