Tucson man ditches car for life on a bike

Tucson man ditches car for life on a bike

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - You may have seen him riding along the streets in Tucson.

That’s because Brad Lancaster’s primary source of transportation is his bike.

His favorite rides extend from the Rillito River to the Tucson mountains. He also favors the residential areas and neighborhoods so he doesn't have to compete with cars.

If he’s not biking to Sabino Canyon, it’s something new.

“In Portland, I loved the world naked bike ride” he said. “That was a different experience; I’ve never done anything like that before.”

Pedaling for a purpose.

“If I want to make a couple extra bucks I can become an insta peda-cab service,” said Lancaster.

But that's not why he bikes more than 2500 miles a year. It's his lifestyle.

In 1996, he sold his car and never looked back.

He’s been car-less for 23 years and takes comfort in knowing he isn’t sending unnecessary fumes into the air.

Although, some benefits were unanticipated.

“When I sold my car in 1996, that was like a $8000 a year raise,” said Lancaster.

Since he doesn’t have to pay for car maintenance or insurance, he’s happy to spend his gas money elsewhere.

“I power this (gesturing to bike) with burritos, which I’m going to eat anyway, but now I can eat more,” said Lancaster.

Even though his health has increased and his bills have decreased, there are still a few things even his bike can't do.

“That load of rock, okay, that’s a little much for a bike, so that’s when I would borrow a truck,” said Lancaster.

Those barriers are far and few between in his world.

To haul groceries, he uses the two bags on the side of what he calls his “bike truck”, clad with water resistant hoods. He uses bungee cords for big loads.

On occasion, he has even taken kayaks on the back and transported lumber.

Need a ride from the airport? No problem, Brad feels privileged to pick up anyone from the airport and yes, that’s with luggage.

Brad Lancaster's daily bicycle
Brad Lancaster's daily bicycle

He’s thought through just about everything, even when traveling. His other bike folds up and fits into his suitcase. The suitcase then turns into a bicycle trailer, ready to be pulled behind the bicycle.

To make riding more cool in the summer months, him and the community organized an annual tree planting event, planting over 1500 trees.

“Now we’ve got life growing in the middle of the street instead of just a barren, hot sea of asphalt,” said Lancaster.

And of course, he’s aimed to tackle an even bigger obstacle for cyclists -- safety.

He toured the Netherlands on his two wheels and was impressed by their bicycle friendly infrastructure, then determined to make changes in Tucson.

Lancaster rallied the neighbors and they targeted areas that were dangerous to bikers. They organized a Building Bridges Project to create a thriving community for all modes of transportation. Among many projects, they advocated for the city to install medians and lighted bike crossings in dangerous areas. Their safety pursuits are ongoing.

With all the biking, Lancaster isn’t in it for the competition, and that’s clear. He hopes to see more bicycle touring in his future. But until then, you might just see him cruising through Tucson’s neighborhoods.

“I purposely have a rule for myself, if I’m going to and from some place I don’t take the same path both ways. I’m always trying to take a different route so I see something new,” said Lancaster.

He’ll keep on riding. Miles and miles to go.

For more information on making Tucson’s streets more bicycle-friendly, read more about Living Streets Alliance, a local non-profit advocating for that cause, by clicking HERE.

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