Living car free?
At the end of last month, one of the members on BikeForums.net started a thread mentioning that the Living Car Free forum had a record number of viewers, 57 to be exact.
While they were expressing their surprise at what was seen as an unusually large number, I was somewhat less surprised. Reducing our reliance on petroleum power is certainly a good thing. But like vegetarian diets, it’s not for everyone. Rather than take the attitude that not owning a car makes you better than car owners, we all need to create a united front, and show other people ways that we can reduce our dependency on the internal combustion engine. The “Us vs. them” mindset needs to be replaced with the “Here, let us show you how” mindset.
The Hummer driver that crowds you in the bike lane may never be converted, but the members and guests on the forums are already interested in two-wheeled locomotion, let’s not scare them away.
I couldn’t agree more. I actually dislike extremism of any variety. It doesn’t matter if it’s veganism, religious extremism, or car-freeism. It’s not that I don’t have respect for those who have the discipline or willpower to be that extreme, it’s the fact that they think it entitles them to something. Thinking about it, I actually despise elitism within the extremist crowd more than I despise extremism itself.
While anyone who knows me knows that I’m not trying to save the environment, stick it to the big-bad oil men, cut terrorist funding, or reduce traffic by riding my bike, the fact remains that I ride it whenever I can, which is quite often. All those things that I just mentioned? They’re great side effects, I suppose. They don’t directly impact me, and the positive effect I’m having doesn’t matter by itself. I do it for me — specifically, my health, my sanity, and my wallet.
If you don’t drive, you don’t drive. Some people think it’s cool that I ride, and they have their own set of reasons why they think it’s cool. It’s usually something about terrorism, the environment, or the price of gasoline. If that’s what’s cool with them, it’s cool with me, too.
I think it’s all about baby steps. There are millions of people in the US that are still loading their bicycles onto their pickups, vans, SUVs and cars to haul their bikes to recreational rides. They ride every weekend, or every day in some cases. Yet the thought doesn’t even cross their mind to use their sleek, efficient, $3,000 unobtanium road bike or their $50 steel retro beast to get from home to the bike trail entrance a mile away. We have to start somewhere. Riding to the big weekly group ride or to the trailhead can lead to riding to the convenience store around the corner. That can lead to riding for other errands, too.
For those who are looking at a bike for the first time in over a decade, and seeking it as a method of transportation augmentation, I can only hope that they don’t run into elitist bigots who would chastise them for owning a car.
When gas rose over $3.00 a gallon that and I was spending 2/3 of my disability benefits I found selling the Pontiac for about two grand paid all the debts of I created while making the untenable sacrifices needed to use something I already owned free and clear. You learn to delegate out of town shopping to relatives and commuters you know that live over there or can take you if needed.
Sitting all day in the car did things to my joints too. Long drives are not my thing.
I have a lot more fun accumulating old Pioneers and video equipment now also.
I read somewhere that anywhere from 70-80% of all cars on an urban road at any given time are making a trip from home of 5 miles or less. It doesn’t require a complete lifestyle change or getting rid of one’s internal combustion engines to make a difference.