Friday, October 8, 2010

Why I don't drive

Here's a little piece I wrote a few months ago about why I bicycle that I thought I'd share here

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Instead of driving a car, I get to places, do my exercise, de-stress and enjoy my surroundings - all by bicycle.

Life is all about choices. Quality of life is about having the power to make your own decisions.

When you hop into a car, you are handing a lot of decision making power over to other people. These people can't always be trusted to make the best choices.

You're letting others decide what good or bad things happen in order to accommodate your choice of getting around.

Someone else decides, for example...
  • where oil is extracted - will it be a pristine environment and what dangers are involved if there is a mishap?
  • how that oil is processed - the resources that go into the process, how waste is handled, and were humans and wildlife endangered during?
  • what safety and environmental violations will be involved with extraction and processing of oil? - there seems to be always some violations
  • what toxic fumes are emitted from the fuel you burn in your car and how these effect you and others.
Of course, when you ride a bicycle, you often still have to hand some control over to others
  • how the materials that made your bike were extracted, manufactured in terms of environmental damage and treatment of workers
  • how the waste in the manufacture of your bike was handled
  • how the spare parts and bicycle maintenance products are manufactured
But none of these items go away when you drive a car. Instead, the resources involved in manufacture, maintenance and disposal of cars is a far greater burden on the environment - more resources required, more waste generated, and more space required. It is generally a lot easier to research what goes into  at least the waste stream and the treatment of workers when you purchase a bicycle. Bicycles are also a lot easier to keep going for years and years - many people still ride around bicycles that were made in the 1970s, just replacing spokes, chains, tubes, and tyres as required. 

When you ride a bicycle, you get control over how the vehicle is fueled and the impact that has. You can choose to eat food you grew yourself with minimal water and land requirements, and perhaps organically. You can choose how efficiently you ride the bicycle too as there is no need to ride at the speed limit.

Bicycles are freedom. They are the most inexpensive form of transport next to walking. It is the form of transport with the most options for when and how you get somewhere, which is freedom. It means you are almost entirely off the fossil fuel and gym membership bandwagons - freedom. Just riding a bicycle makes you feel free in a 'wind in your hair' way. You aren't trapped in a metal cage. Freedom.

Bicycles are democracy. You vote each time you get in a car, and you also vote each time you get on a bicycle. You are making a choice, and riding a bicycle is the best choice. Vote now and vote often.

3 comments:

Mr Snuffle... said...

I think if I was to stop using my car and switched to a device which is significantly slower, I would have greater difficulty doing the things I like to do, and less time to do them. In my case, I'm not sure how that is freedom. It would be a major inconvenience.

It works for you, and that's great, but it's a bit short sighted to think that a bike solution is right for everyone. It's cool you can fit a bike around what you want to get out of life - it wouldn't work for me, or a lot of others.

Now, I'm going to drive to my friends place to go play cards. It's dark and raining. Luckily, this isn't much of an issue for me.

Superbike said...

Mr Snuffle, why do you think a bike is slower? When you factor in the time you had to spend working merely to afford the car and run it, I reckon it is about even with a bike. Your belief that a bike "significantly slower" is an unfounded urban myth.

I too like to play cards. If it is dark and raining, I use lights and put on a raincoat.

Mr Snuffle... said...

When one number is smaller than another number, i don't call that an urban myth.

And no, I don't count the hours I work to pay off my car as part of my travel time, but my car was only $8000, and petrol and maintenance aren't that expensive.

All I was getting at is maybe it isn't for everyone.

Maybe try to be a little more understanding that people have different goals and drives in their lives (see what I did there?)

I wouldn't even disagree that people should ride/walk more (I prefer walking to the station and getting the train to work than driving, if possible), but the idea of using it as my primary form of transport, give my lifestyle, isn't practical. I'm not giving up my car.