This is a shameless attempt to save the the most advanced civilization in
history from imminent self destruction by eliminating carbon emission,
dependence on foreign sources of fuel,obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Cycling accomplishes all those things at once and helps us develop a better
understanding of ourselves, each other and our relationship to the cosmos.

Oh, horse puckey!
I like to ride bikes, have been doing it all my life.
The rest of that crap is just a fringe benefit,
and the blogosphere gives me a chance to share my interior
monologue with virtual rather than imaginary friends.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Saving the world

   While I playfully alluded to the possibility of saving the world in the lead to this blog, I both believe that cycling can solve all the ills mentioned and don't believe it will happen.  This is not a pessimistic attitude on my part but a realistic look at the value system we have developed in the United States.  Recently in an off hand remark with a shop owner who was nearly as o..o..can't quite get it out..damn. ah mature as I.  We reminisced over our experience coming of age during the summer of love.

The youth were determined to save the world and make radical social changes that would alter the values of future generations.  Professions took over, there were mortgages to pay, our behavior helped create mutant viruses (there went the fun!),Volvo's, timeshares, trips to Europe and the only people who stuck to their values gave birth to Bode Miller.
     Today the values we espoused are more likely reiterated as the voices of change in Washington where they regularly change the party majorities in one house or another to create a radical change in the nature of compromise.  And even more  plastic bags go to the landfill.  It is really important to realize that we have developed a culture which values things more than actions.   What we have done is symbolized by what we have, consequently the current increase in cycling's popularity  is epitomized by the rider showing up at a club event with his TREK Madone on top of his Mercedes.  They come for their weekly commune with other enthusiasts and talk about the other stuff they bought to compliment their bikes while they ride about without a real destination.  This aimless wandering at speeds inducing aneurysm, provides a social validation beyond the condo's and ski lodges.  It says, "Hey, not only can I afford expensive toys, I have the leisure time to enjoy them...and I eat organic food, so there!"
   Now I firmly believe that cycling can replace at least 50% of the driving done in this country, and that would radically change the world.  But neither cars nor bikes are sold as transportation in the US.  Cars are a primary means of self-expression and bikes are toys.  From what the bike dealers tell me, manufacturers are gearing up for a massive change in values.  They are pushing more and more "practical" designs in anticipation for a wave of commuters to wash over the industry.

   I'd like to see that, but I doubt that it will happen.  Politicians will fight tooth and nail to keep fuel prices down and their constituents happy.    In 2011 Exxon Mobile reportedly paid $15 billion in taxes on it's international operations, while receiving a tax rebate from the United States-- it's largest market.  Gasoline will continue to be artificially cheap.  They've made it obvious that they will do anything for car makers. So, despite all the lip service, and MUP development, and growing interest in the sport, people will still drive their cars when a bike would do just as well.
     Right now about 1/2 of 1% of the people in the US use a bike for commuting or utilitarian purposes. If that doubled in the next few years, I would be surprised (and delighted).  I don't see drivers changing and getting out of their cars.  Some younger college grads will stick to their bikes and use car sharing or drive part-time. Perhaps a few spandex hamsters will see the light and decide that riding a little bit  more often might be better than a lot once or twice a week.
     Maybe they'll realize a little daily fun is better than a weekly adrenaline rush.

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