Daybreak on the home planet in the chilly October fog. Sometimes it feels like we're kind of spinning around the planet on a bike, which is a good thing, because it's healthy for both riders and the Earth. Or even better yet, spinning to and from work on a bike. We have a lot of bicycle commuters here in town; just plain everyday people who would rather ride a bike than drive a car.
In my opinion, automobile companies don't make electric cars (Electric Vehicles, or EVs) affordable enough yet, and our governments don't really do much to implement real change. The auto companies could subsidize the EVs until they become more common. I believe that Henry Ford used a subsidization strategy when selling his first autos because he wanted his own workers to be able to afford them. He wanted to crack the market wide open for adding automobiles to the world, and the rest was history.
I've learned that there is no polite way to discuss global climate change as a result of the CO2 emissions of millions of cars, power plants, jet planes, trucks, and so on. One essentially has to just spit it out, sorry. You don't need to hear that earful again, so in the meantime, I pedal my bike to most places in all kinds of weather. I'm going to be flying in lots of jets this year too, sorry planet, my apologies.
We have a "Junkie Paradox" here, because we know buying gasoline is not good, but do it anyway. I filled up the gas tank yesterday for the car my son uses, so I'm a customer too. I have a suspicion that this will eventually solve itself and we won't have to debate it. I can foresee EVs outselling gasoline powered cars in the near future, simply because it will cost too much to fill up a gas tank with gasoline. When the EVs become more affordable to the middle class, and gasoline becomes too expensive, the lateral shift may occur.
Spinning around the planet...
Back in 2008 I was curious as to what I'd say to kids born after 2031, which is a mere 18 years from now. I found myself wondering as to what they'd ask us about our peculiar driving habits, and why we emitted so much carbon dioxide. I'm sure many of them will simply ask, "You knew it was bad, right? Why did you keep doing it when you knew how irresponsible it was?" How can we give a decent response to a question like that? "Uh... yes. We knew it wasn't all that good for the planet, and we did feel bad that we were messing things up. It wasn't as if we were completely off our rockers. Cars were our only choice; you'd have had to have been there to really understand."
I started being a bicycle commuter in February of 2008, and have been pedaling (spinning) for most of this time. I'd been thinking about it for a couple years, then finally made the leap because the above answer seemed a bit lame. Don't get me wrong, I love cars and would drive around a 1959 Cadillac convertible if granted half a chance (preferably in teal, with tan Italian leather seats). On the other hand, a bicycle seemed like a good partial solution, or maybe even served as a measure of hopeful absolution or something. An electric car would be good too. If I had to buy a car now, it would definitely be an electric car. Definitely. And if you see someone cruising around in a '59 Cadillac, don't worry, it's not me, it's my evil twin. You can tell, because he likes to drive real fast, but not me.
You don't even have to be a bike freak or anything radical to be a bike commuter, just someone who knows how to ride a bike. Or do the electric car thing. Here's to a healthier planet.
League of American Bicyclists - tips for commuting
Bicycling- Lots of links for commuting info
Boise State University Bicycle Congress
Making the bike a logical choice...(NY Times International Edition)
Story and Photographs Copyright Larry McNeil, All Rights Reserved 2013