Thursday, August 30, 2007

Biking against petro greed

Image of bikes with flowers and Bicycling Against Oil Wars signFrom The Day (New London, CT), 08.30.07:

How I Brought Exxon Mobil to its Knees
I was pedaling from work in New London to my home in Ledyard. This was Day Two of my personal crusade to take down the rapacious global oil industry and redirect our conspicuously consumptive national energy policy. I would achieve this by not driving for an entire week. My message would surely send shivers from the Gulf refineries to the halls of Congress.

I wouldn’t just not drive, I wouldn’t even set foot in any plane, train, automobile or other motor vehicle--not even a Prius hybrid en route to an organic food co-op or Earth First! rally.

For those of you keeping score, I made this rash pledge during a rant about fuel prices a few months ago. I said then and feel even more strongly now: Gas is too cheap. The low price enables too many people to drive too many miles in too many cars over too many roads to too many strip malls to buy too many 48-ounce bags of Cheetos.

If fuel were priced more realistically – say, at about 5 bucks a gallon, as it is in Europe and most other countries – then we wouldn’t have such apocalyptic traffic jams, we wouldn’t be spewing as many greenhouse gases and we wouldn’t have as many cars designed to race 90 mph uphill while towing a trailer full of ATVs and Jet-Skis. (Read more.)
There are many great motivations to embrace commuting by bicycle: health, fitness, ecology, economy, fun. Hostility to a rapacious oil industry ain't a bad motivation either.

Image: Web capture.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips


Eric said...

Paul, I agree with your point, and appreciate that you kept a tense topic light and humorous. I agree that the reason people drive so many cars without thinking about health and environmental consequences is because there currently aren't any personal economic consequences. We live in a free market society, and the markets (which are a balance of providers and consumers) are people. Why do people drive so much? Because they can. The funny thing, is, if a major part of the population started bike commuting, there would be a glut of oil and the prices would drop!

I don't believe oil should be the focus. Those of us who have realized the benefits of bike commuting ought to leverage the free market. Look at bottled water. There was a time when no one would purchase bottled water. However, when people tried it and came to trust the level of purity and realized the benefits of water Vs. soda, etc. the industry exploded! Why are billions of bottles of water sold each year? Because people want it! So then, why would people want to ride a bike as opposed to drive a car? They will have to want to!

In my opinion, propagating trendy political catch phrases and talking points are intellectually shallow and only belie real progress. Sites like your however, I believe encourage and spur people to action. It helped me start commuting this year and stay faithful to it every single week of this year! I would encourage everyone who believes in the economic, political, social, health, and environmental benefits of bike commuting to talk it up at work, get involved with your local town, write letters, send e-mails and raise the awareness collectively.

I am not sure how this could be done, but it would be great if some collective statistics could be gathered to show just how many car miles are being replaced by bike commuting, and with it how many gallons of gas are not being consumed, and how many tons of pollution are not being added to the air, and how many pounds have been lost translating into what kind of savings for our health care system, etc...

Sorry to go on so long, but you can see I think about this a lot... :)

sasquatch2 said...

I've wanted to attach a message to my bike like that for a while now. I was thinking those hokey spokes but that would only work at night and be seen from the side while moving so I just put stickers on the frame. Nice to be able to send a message as well as set an example.
some messages I thought would be good:
"my commute is 10 miles round trip, that's a 40 minute work out every day" - "Cars suck gas" - "save a solider, bike to work"

any more message ideas?


erin said...

I prefer the simple bike sticker, "One Less Car".

tom said...

Energy companies and health care organizations are the overwhelming recipients of consumer animosity because of perceived gouging. But the real vampire in the economic horror movie is the legal profession, that has no constraints whatsoever on its billing and has managed to inject itself into every aspect of American life. Let's start reform there.