900 Miles Per Gallon
What if I told you I had invented a vehicle that ran on organic vegetables, got the equivalent of over 900 miles per gallon, was completely carbon neutral, and produced no toxic by products. Would you want one? What if I told you I got the price of this vehicle down to under $500 dollars? Are you reaching for your wallet? What if I told you that using the vehicle would improve your health, reduce your risk of cancer, and make you sexier? If you aren't ready to cut a check, check your pulse!
I set out to invent the next revolution in transportation, only to discover the most elegant, efficient form of human transportation had been invented one hundred and forty six years ago! The evolution of the bicycle was long, but the first one with pedals was invented by Ernest Michaux in 1861.
I'm a peaknik, which means I am one of those people who spends too much time trying to look into the shrouded mist of the future, and knows that whether Peak Oil was in 2005 or it will be in 2010 it doesn't really matter. The second half of the very short era of fossil fuels is essentially here now.
So you say, "Ah, your just one of those crazy people trying to save the world and fossil fuels by riding your bike." Not at all. I'm trying to burn as much fossil fuel, as fast as I can. The problem is I just love riding my bicycle too much! I rode my bike over Cahuenga pass (which in LA is a pretty good size hill) tonight instead of taking the metro home. It was a great work out. I had a wonderful but brief interaction with a young guitarist. I smelled the evidence of a skunk who got startled. I felt the cold breeze of the night air. Sure... a couple cars came pretty close.
"Well there you have it. I could never ride because of the danger," you think to yourself. Well that was part of the fun of it. One of the problems with modern life is people are literally dying of boredom because we've made everything so damn safe. I felt really alive biking home, and it occurred to me how like a coffin a car is. It's plush and comfy, sealed off from the world, and you have no interaction with the environment or anyone else. Some bicycle enthusiasts like to refer to cars as high tech lard generating devices. My favorite are the people who utilize their lard generating devices to get to the gym, just to get on a stationary bike to try to eliminate the lard they just generated!
I realized tonight, I might get hit on my bike, and I could die, but the same could happen in my car. Around 43,000 people die in their cars every year in the US. I would rather have ridden and died than never lived at all!
I'm not up on a moral high horse. In fact, I'm going to book a couple of extra flights this year just to make up for all my miles on my bicycle. For those of you that prefer your cars and SUV's, well thank you for driving, but don't worry... before too long you might be enjoying the benefits of the two wheel velorucion yourself!
JC Earle is a permaculturalist and documentary filmmaker based in Los Angeles.
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