It occured to me the other day when we were driving in the car with the three year old and talking about biking and driving and “saving” gas that I’ve still been buying into this lie.
A while ago I realized how ridiculous it is to come home from a shopping trip and say I “Saved $143.52 today!” The truth is a spent a bunch of money, regardless of how on sale the item I purchased was. That was step one in my reality check.
Today I realized, biking to work doesn’t “save gas” it rather keeps gas from being used that doesn’t need to be used. In the same way, when I choose not to eat red meat (which I grew up not eating), I don’t walk around saying, “I’m saved a pig’s leg and a cow today!”
Very little in my life are necessities, and this is probably true for you as well. I think we can probably make a case for our “need” to go to our job and/or school, and therefore I can understand a “need” to drive to those locations if they aren’t in walking or biking distance.
What I’ve realized though, is I’ve been hoping in my car for far too many “wants.” If using too much gas is a problem, then I need to work on changing my lifestyle and my choices.
That’s I think one of the reasons I find this place the MinusCarProject so inspiring. Here’s the mission statement:
The MinusCar Project exists because I believe people that think that the globe is warming because of human activity, specifically carbon emitting human activity, might be right. Because I think they might be right, I think humans need to change. And because I think humans need to change, I think I need to change.
I bike to work. I have for most of this year and to a large degree I’ve biked as many places as I could since I was in high school.* The two primary reasons I have choosen to bike are financial and physical.
I don’t like cars. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy driving, especially my stick shift, but I could do without. Cars cost you money no matter how much you drive them (licenses and tags, insurance and oil changes) and then they cost you money when you do drive them (gas and maintenance). I’ve had some bad experiences with cars (three of which I put about $400 into to fix and they promptly broke less then a week later). When I average repairs and everything out (except gas) it has cost Mindy and I about $1000 a year to have a car. It has cost me much less then $100 a year to have my bike (far less if I hadn’t had two stolen). Every day I bike to work I save money, and then environment and more.
I don’t like ‘working out.’ It’s not that I hate fitness clubs, I just find it silly that we’ve advanced our technology so much that we don’t get enough exercise in our daily routine. Now we schedule in a time to drive to the gym, burn some calories, drive home and eat more then we need. I work up a decent sweat every time I bike to work, and I really like that because I have to go to work, and now I’m getting some exercise while I do it.
That was more then I thought I would say about my own personal motivations for biking, but it brings me to my final point. I’ve said this before: I’m glad gas prices are going up. I really don’t like the idea that oil companies are probably the ones benefiting, or that violence and the threat of violence has contributed to the increased prices. Yet, in our society, where we are ignorant of our impact on the environment, and we are so focused on what is convenient for me, we really don’t choose to change unless it is hurting our pocket book.
I’ve biked around town at all hours of the day and I see more and more people who are biking to and from work then I have ever seen before. The cool thing is these aren’t your hip, “look-at-me-I-bike-to-work” type, these are folks who pulled the two wheeler out of the garage, dusted it off and said, I’m not going to let capitalism have the last say. Keep biking.
*There has been periods of time where “could” does not include any ride in which I would get sweaty, I’d have to wear a helmet, or I would possibly be seen by someone I know. Those periods occured mostly in high school, but still occur on occassion.