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Aren't you ever amazed at how far you can go?(67 posts)

Aren't you ever amazed at how far you can go?MB1
May 8, 2002 4:14 AM
Sure we are in good shape but even riders who are having fitness issues can still go an amazing distance in a day. We are always getting posts and stories here from new riders about their first century or some amazing and crazy ride. These are usually my favorite posts. I can't help thinking what a great thing riding is for everyone.

We rode the local 300K Brevet Saturday (pretty much a loop). Miss M and I started just as the sky was getting light and finished just before dark. Most started before we did and several finished at 1 a.m. Sunday. I don't know for sure how many finished but 38 people started-most starters finish Brevets since there is no support you don't have much choice but to finish.

While we were riding I was thinking about the amazing amount of ground you can cover on a bike in a day. We started in Frederick Maryland, rode West across the mountains into Pennsylvania, then East past Gettysburg towards York and back to the start.

I often think that driving the same routes that we ride on would be no fun at all. That is way too long to sit in a car. Sometimes I think the only reason to own a car is to get you to the start of a ride. We often do our long rides from home and find one of the best parts of those rides is not having to drive.

You see so many things on a bike that you don't see from a car. The only people who have it better are hikers but you just can't cover the same distances on foot.

So how can we convince those driving fools to get out of their cage and enjoy the open air?
re: triple prices on gasoline nmcyclopathic
May 8, 2002 4:50 AM
Great solutionRollinFast
May 8, 2002 4:55 AM
NOT! Some of us drive for a living. Triple the cost of gasoline just so some out of shape Joe can see more on the side of the road than what he would from his car? Why don't you do something better, and invite someone who doesn't ride to a local club ride and leave the cost of gasoline alone. Those fools in Washington have already screwed us enough when it comes to the cost of gasoline and making sure that the price stays level.
how about tax breaks instead of another hit in the pocket?Becky
May 8, 2002 5:08 AM
I certainly advocate using my car less. Perhaps that's why I'm building up an errand bike for shopping and such. However, there's just no feasible way for me to get to work safely by bike, so I'm stuck using my car to commute. Higher gas prices wouldn't change my mind about how I get to work, but they sure would hurt me financially!
On the other hand, tax breaks for using a bicyle instead of one's car certainly look appealing....
Great solutionpmf1
May 8, 2002 5:15 AM
Those fools in Washington .... Yeah, I'd have to agree that our energy policy is pretty messed up. How much of the crisis in the mideast is a result of our meddling in the affairs of oil producing countries to keep supplies flowing? There's a cost not paid at the pump. Another is the greenhouse gas emissions. Over 40% of emissions in the U.S. are from automobiles. And we're the biggest source in the world by far. Where is the incentive to conserve? Fuel economy in the U.S vehicle fleet is lower than it has been in over 20 years. Congress had a chance to do something about it and punted. But why pass more regulations when we could just tax gas instead? You don't need a Ph.D. in economics to know that is the most sensible thing to do. Ever been to Europe? Gas there is $3.00/gallon or more. People drive smaller cars. Politics, not good policy, keep it from happening here.

I'm not some guy with a "One Less Car" t-shirt on beating his chest that we should all live in caves and ride to work. But there are several externality costs to gas that you are not paying at the pump. Those fools in Washington are subsidizing your driving. A gallon of gas costs more than most folks think.
Wait, I live in Washington! You must be thinking of those fools who live outside the beltway. nmMB1
May 8, 2002 6:14 AM
I'm exempt ... I live outside the beltway ... 3 miles outside nmpmf1
May 8, 2002 6:33 AM
agree, but to be fair...SteveO
May 8, 2002 7:31 AM
Much of europe is quite accessible by PT.
I would certainly agree to $3.00/gallon gas prices (taxes) if i could get to where i was going via rail, bus, etc.
agree, but to be fair...RollinFast
May 8, 2002 4:23 PM
$3 a gallon for gasoline would mean everything else you purchase would increase as well due to the increase you are paying to transport the goods you buy. Better be careful what you wish for.
Great solutiontz
May 8, 2002 5:45 AM
I agree with you that we can't just get rid of all our cars, but I don't think that one person commuting 10 miles to work ALONE in his/her Ford Expedition is a great idea. Comfort and safety of a large SUV can be packed in a smaller, more efficient vehicle.
Some people may think that forcing them into buying smaller cars is an infringement of their liberties, but it is not. Don't forget, that most goods in the US are delivered by trucks. Gasoline price swings WILL affect prices of everything else we buy, therefore, I believe that effective management of our energy resourses has a priority over personal preferences.
Great solutionpmf1
May 8, 2002 6:05 AM
Not so sure I agree. I think if gas were appropriately priced, then let people do what they want. If they want to spend money filling an SUV with gas every week, that should be their choice to make.

Regulations such as Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) have largely failed us. CAFE was inacted in the 1970's in response to the oil embargo. It specified that on average, a manufacturer had to get X mpg for its fleet. The mpg limit for light trucks was set lower. In those days, light trucks were pick-ups used mostly by farmers and other small businessmen. Give anyone a regulation, and they'll think of sneaky ways around it. Automakers did so with CAFE by inventing the SUV. It appealed to the American desire for size and had to meet a less strict standard. Kind of ironic that a regulation made to save fuel is responsible for creating the SUV, isn't it?
Great solutiontz
May 8, 2002 6:29 AM
You are absolutely right, it is ironic. However, if one regulation failed, they have to come up with another one that will work. For example, enforce putting commercial license plates on all new big-engine cars, or something. I am not a lawyer, and have little knowledge of auto industry, but I am sure that there is a way to make our vehicles more efficient.
[political rant]sodade
May 8, 2002 6:03 AM
It never fails to blow me away that anyone who rides a bike can be supportive of our government's current stance as regards oil, polution and the auto industry.

Doesn't it ever bother you that there you are - exercising, bettering yourself by riding - all the while sucking in toxic fumes from cars that could be 100% clean if only our govt. would take a hard line with these issues instead of pandering to so-called conservatives (the most ironic term in politics next to liberal) in a short-sighted bid to maintain the status quo. I sure wish these "conservatives" in power would really work to conserve the important things in life so that my little girls will still have clean air, clean water, trees and wild spaces.

We should be paying the true cost to society for gas and cars. If you tripled the cost of gas AND took that money to subsidise the transition to hydrogen power, we could bite the bullet and in 10 years ditch all petro.
Yes, if gas prices go up due to taxation, then the cost of goods goes up as well, BUT if you use that money to develop a nationwide rail distribution network powered by hydrogen, then eventually the cost of goods will be lower than today and you won't be stuck in traffic behind nasty diesel trucks.

We have the technology to make the world a better place, but not the courage to change.

Another thing, if you made companies pay the transporation costs for their commuting workers, all of these idiotic cube farms would go away as they encouraged telecommuting. There are a hundred other considerations and details that I am not about to flesh out on a BBS, so don't flame me with all of the things I have left out here.

Actually, if you are going to flame me, the cost of admission is explaining to me how "conservatives" deserve that name.

p.s. I am not a lberal, I am a true libertarian (remember that the prime tennant of freedom is not stepping on anyone else's toes).

[/political rant]
"true libertarian"?DougSloan
May 8, 2002 6:14 AM
Not that the Libertarian party necessarily is always true to libertarian philosophy, but I doubt something like mandating companies paying for employees' transportation costs would be entertained. http://www.lp.org/ That's sort of anti-free market, isn't it?

BTW, I agree about developing alternate power sources. Hydrogen would be fantastic; we could do it today. Simply build nuclear power plants to create it from ocean water. It's a no brainer, but, ironically, environmental groups oppose it. It would be the absolute best way to clean up the environment, if you could get past the nuclear paranoia.

Doug
"true libertarian"?Wannabe
May 8, 2002 7:01 AM
Yeah, I was thinking the same thing! "True Libertarian?" I think not. A true libertarian wouldn't want the governemnt involved in any way.

Andy
That's why I said "true"sodade
May 8, 2002 7:14 AM
Most, so called libertairans are only libertarians when it comes down to "me and mine." IMHO, a "true" libertarian supports the liberty of all members of society - which means that your gain can not come as a loss to others. That, to me, is conceptually pure.

p.s. not to say that I am not hypocritical - I don't always live the way that I know is right, but I usually try...
sorry, nope, nada.....Jekyll
May 8, 2002 8:20 PM
Hayek must be turning in his grave, Von Mises rising from the dead and Nozic and Rothbard are running for the hills.
You're as much a Libertarian as Harry Brown is a Marxist.
The last time I checked, the Libertarian (or to use a better term Classical Liberal - philosophical labels, not political) credo would hardly allow one member of society to coerce another to support their particular pet project - regardless of its overall benefit to society at large.
What you so colorlesly spout is the antethesis of Classical Liberalism and its bastard step child, the Libertarian political platform.
It's not courage that causes change,TJeanloz
May 8, 2002 6:16 AM
Economics, not courage, instigate most change in the world. The world will never run out of oil, it will just become un-economical to burn it at our current rates. When we have a cost effective solution, we will turn to it. Your argument is that we should skew the rates so that oil prices artificially rise to the point where hydrogen or other fuel becomes more cost-effective. Such a pigou tax might be the right idea- but I (personally, I know there is an argument to be made) don't think the market has failed.

As far as the hydrogen argument is concerned, as I understand it, refining hydrogen is more innefficient and smog-producing than burning gasoline, so we effectively would just shift the emmissions from everywhere to a few concentrated refining facilities- but I don't know the process well enough to say that this is a fact.
the market has failed in one critical aspectsodade
May 8, 2002 7:09 AM
If you beleive that the market exists to serve the consumers of that market (just like a democratic govt), then the market has failed dramatically. The problem is that the market is NOT truly free. Just like communisim and democracy, there is no "pure" market. All are corrupted by those who have the power to control it. When the market holds postitive technological progress back, it has failed us...

If you go to slashdot.org and do a search on hydrogen, you can read the latest on the tech. I am no engineer, but what I have read there mostly sounds like the problems have been solved.
Not true,TJeanloz
May 8, 2002 7:19 AM
A market failure has not necessarily occurred if the market holds back technological progress. The market is holding back technological progress on regular tourist flights to the moon- but this isn't a failure of a market, rather the success of it. As soon as the technology exists to make driving on electricity or hydrogen cheaper than driving on oil, the market will prove efficient and people will shift to electrics; there is no reason to distort the market to suddenly make these alternatives cost efficient.

The argument that oil prices do not truely reflect the costs of consumption is a reasonable one for how that market may be failing, but I'm not convinced that we haven't priced in those costs.
Always the economist ...pmf1
May 8, 2002 7:57 AM
My temporary Big Time policy job this year has only further ingrained in my mind that economics doesn't matter that much. Its mostly used when it supports an arguement.

Here's my current favorite -- ethanol. The Senate energy bill mandates that we have to use 5 billion gallons of ethanol in gas by 2012 (up from the current 1.8 billion gallons). I would bet my C-40 that this will get conferenced into an energy bill that will be signed by the President. Ethanol is a ridiculous waste of money. It has absolutely no environmental or economic benefits compared to gas. It costs more to produce, is more difficult to transport and mix in gas. Oh yeah, and we subsidize its production by $0.53/gallon.

Or here's another one --- Flexible fuel vehicles. There are 1.8 million vehicles that can run on E85 (ethanol fuel). Their production is subsidized -- even though only 0.03% of gas stations even sell this stuff (cost is around $3.50/gallon). Its a give away to car companies.

If you want to look at a really significant waste of money, look at the Farm Bill that will get signed next week.

Marginal cost doesn't always equal marginal revenue.
"true" pricesDougSloan
May 8, 2002 9:21 AM
Things are so complex that it would be nearly impossible to determine the true prices of many things, especially oil. Sure, foreign oil is subsidized through military action and policing, trade policy, and all that, but then it is artificially limited, too; wouldn't the prices drop if protected areas were opened for drilling, such as off shore and Alaska? It isn't fair to argue only one side of the equation.

I agree the corn thing is purely to help farmers. Alcohols don't make much sense for cars.

Bottom line, the government gets in the way as much as it helps (or more), which certainly affects prices either way.
and quantitiespmf1
May 8, 2002 9:38 AM
The amount of oil held in ANWR is a very small proportion of world stocks. If that area were opened for drilling, I doubt the world price would fluctaute at all. Another suicide bomb in the middle east probably has a larger impact.

It is fair to say that OPEC does still keep the price artificially high.

I would argue that a major unstated policy in the U.S. is cheap energy. Good or bad, its what people want so politicians will give it to them.
OPECTJeanloz
May 8, 2002 9:44 AM
OPEC really doesn't have the impact on oil prices that the oil companies would like you to think it does. Russia exports enough oil that OPEC doesn't control to make up any imbalance in supply and demand. If OPEC curtails production, Russia just pumps more. The cartel is about as broken as it has ever been.

I don't know that cheap energy is an unstated policy- I think it's pretty clear that we want cheap energy, and I'd be surprised if the policy wasn't in writing. On another note, it isn't really the price of oil we're worried about, but the costs of oil (in terms of environmental damage)- and whether we can mitigate these costs by reducing consumption.
OPECpmf1
May 8, 2002 10:24 AM
Compared to ANWR, OPEC has a relatively large impact on oil prices. I'm not saying either has a large over-all impact though. If you watch energy prices, you do see them move when OPEC makes production announcements. Its not much and its no where to the level that existed when there was a real operating cartel, but its an impact and its bigger than anything that'll come from opening ANWR up.

There is no written policy that the U.S. Govt seeks to provide energy at the lowest costs to consumers.

Yeah, but the price of oil dictates its level of consumption and therefore the environmental damages, right? If the externality cost (whatever that is) was added to the price as a tax then we would have a socially optimal level of environmental damages, right? So in the end, it is the price that we need to worry about because that is the most efficient way to reduce consumption and mitigate these "costs".
OTOHDougSloan
May 8, 2002 10:54 AM
If the goal is really to motivate people to buy smaller cars, why not just mandate that? Otherwise, if gas prices are inflated via taxes, people with money to burn will continue to drive big cars (assuming they get worse gas mileage), and lesser means people will buy economy cars; should only the rich enjoy the safety and other benefits of larger vehicles? I doubt people would accept that.

I doubt people will accept a direct mandate of driving only smaller cars. If people won't accept doing it directly, why would they accept an indirect mandate of the same thing?

I suppose the government could issue gas ration coupons, and each of use could sell or buy as needed. That would be a mess.

Maybe a tax credit for bike riding and equipment? Where's our lobby? Why not do it the same way other industries and interests do?
OTOHpmf1
May 8, 2002 11:07 AM
1. The govt tried to mandate that (read my earlier post on CAFE) and it ended up giving birth to the SUV

2. Why should the rich be the only ones enjoying the benefits of larger cars? What are you, some kind of commie. That's the American way. Don't the rich enjoy the cream of our medical and legal systems as well. Poor folks stand in line at public clinics and have lawyers from legal aid (you know, greasy hair, chain ring marks on their legs ...). Think OJ would have beaten the rap without the dream team?

3. Ration gas? Why would you want to do that? Just tax it -- same thing, just works more efficiently.

Remember Ross Perot? About the only lucid point he had was in favor of a gas tax. It works very well in Europe and other countries.

I have a car and see nothing wrong with driving it. Although it does annoy me when I see these ever larger SUVs barreling down the road. Some of them have trouble parking at the grocery store. Typically its some 120 lbs woman, driving to the store by herself in a 4-wheel drive behemoth that seats 6 and gets 11 mpg. I can't see around them on the road. They make my car less safe than when I bought it 11 years ago. And they keep getting bigger.

All of this is a long way from arguing that we should all ride our bikes to work. For some folks, like yourself, you just don't want to do it. Nothing wrong with that. Your reasons sound valid. I bike to work 3 times a week (32 miles round trip). I like it and it gets some extra miles in without wasting time (trip on the train takes almost as long). Its not for everyone though.
Ah, but you missed one critical word in my argumentsodade
May 8, 2002 8:14 AM
I said "POSITIVE technological progress. Tourist flights to the moon are not signifigantly positive. Getting rid of oil has so many obvious positive effects for society and so few (long term) negative ones that not doing it is a crime.

>As soon as the technology exists to make driving on electricity or hydrogen cheaper than driving on oil, the market will prove efficient and people will shift to electrics; there is no reason to distort the market to suddenly make these alternatives cost efficient.

The technology DOES exist! The market is already distorted by the oil/auto industries and the polititians that they control (virtually all of them). I am merely suggesting that we, the people, through a government of representatives, should kick the fatcats and their pawns to the curb and institute market policies that protect the consumer and the market from the monied interests that have taken control of our govenment and society.

You don't really think that the market is "pure" do you?

>The argument that oil prices do not truely reflect the costs of consumption is a reasonable one for how that market may be failing, but I'm not convinced that we haven't priced in those costs.

Do you think that 2 bucks a gallon covers the future costs of cleaning up this garbage dump of a country? Or the physical, emotional and economical costs of breathing poisoned air. Even if it did, which it surely doesn't, the money isn't being funneled into solving the massive problems that it creates.
I actually chose to ignore it,TJeanloz
May 8, 2002 8:40 AM
I chose to ignore the 'positive' because what is a positive improvement is different for one person or another. Somebody might get a lot of positive benefits from visiting the moon, I would not.

I remain unconvinced that burning petroleum causes 'massive problems'. I just don't see the problems. I'm o.k. with a little smog in cities like L.A. and Mexico City- that's part of the price you pay to live in those cities. I don't see the country as a garbage dump. Maybe you live somewhere I don't, but from my office window, things look pretty nice.

Furthermore, I don't think people should be punished into not driving. I drive about 15 miles a week- because I take public transportation to work, and do all of my errands on foot. And I don't do it because I can't afford to drive- I do it because it's easier to take the train.
gee - what world do you live in?sodade
May 8, 2002 9:19 AM
"a little smog in cities like L.A. and Mexico City" !!!
I am not going to whip out the statistics, but come on. LA is rediculous! and it's not just confined to LA, their smog fouls the air from Santa Barbara to San Diego. I lived in the Bay Area for most of my life, but it became LA North. My beautiful valley - once a riding mecca - now asphixiation land. I have been searching for a good city to live near and any place with decent riding weather is overpolluted. I moved to New England, where every other month there is a story in the paper about an elementary school built on a toxic site.

I also don't think that people should be punished into not driving. I think that corporations should be punished into making fossil fuels go the way of the dino. Americans will always need cars. I have two - one a minivan! I just wish that they were non-polluting (and that my poor neighbors had them too).
gee - what world do you live in?TJeanloz
May 8, 2002 9:48 AM
I live in New England, and we may have some lead paint in houses, and elementary schools built on toxic waste. This may lead to kids who went to school there dying 3 years younger than they would have if they had gone somehwere else. It's a shame though, because those kids wouldn't ever die otherwise...

We're all going to die of something. Some people are going to get a bad shake in life with regard to disease. If I get cancer because I lived too close to power lines, that's my tough luck.

But to the other point- you PROVE that the market is working. There was too much smog in California for your tastes, so you left. If enough people have the same feelings, there will be less smog, until we reach the 'efficient' level of smog. It's a beautiful thing, really.
you crack me up dudesodade
May 8, 2002 9:59 AM
Thanks for giving me a reason to laugh in my cube.

If it really was just that we died a few years early I wouldn't care so much. At 33, 66 or 69 doesnt seem to make much difference. I am more concerned about the quality of my life and my kids lives. Those elementary school children don't just lose a couple years - they get cancer young. If I were to have stayed in the bay area, my wife would have a 90% better chance of getting breast cancer, my kids would be 50% more likely to get athsma and I would not be able to ride 30-40 days a year because they are bad air days and I would be doing more harm than good to my lungs ability to absorb oxygen.

p.s. you were surely joking about the 'efficient' smog thing right? right?
you crack me up dudeTJeanloz
May 8, 2002 10:07 AM
I'm not kidding about the efficient amount of smog. Do you really think that 100% clean air will improve your quality of life more than 99.999999% clean air? The answer is (I hope) clearly no. So where is the lower bound? 98%, 80% 50%? There is an efficient level, and it is less than 100% 'clean'. And it's a matter of preference- I'm cool with pretty dirty air, you clearly are not. So I can live in LA, and you can go live in ANWR....The choices are what makes life interesting.
cool with dirty air = cause you live in New England?sodade
May 8, 2002 10:45 AM
Live in LA for a while and we'll see if your pro-smog attitude changes...
cool with dirty air = cause you live in New England?TJeanloz
May 8, 2002 10:54 AM
I lived under the brown cloud of Denver for some time. Never noticed it. If people want to live in the smog in LA, let them live there- don't complain about how they should all change so that you can live there.
[political rant]RollinFast
May 8, 2002 4:24 PM
"Doesn't it ever bother you that there you are - exercising, bettering yourself by riding - all the while sucking in toxic fumes from cars that could be 100% clean if only our govt. would take a hard line with these issues instead of pandering to so-called conservatives (the most ironic term in politics next to liberal) in a short-sighted bid to maintain the status quo. I sure wish these "conservatives" in power would really work to conserve the important things in life so that my little girls will still have clean air, clean water, trees and wild spaces. "

NO, because without my car, I wouldn't make the living I am to afford my nice bicycles.
but the only reason your car spits out toxic fumessodade
May 9, 2002 3:07 AM
is because the powers that be won't allow positive technological progress...
How About This...Gregory Taylor
May 8, 2002 7:42 AM
Actually, I'd agree that we should leave gas prices alone.

Rather, I'd like to tax the vehicle instead. How about a fairly punitive tax based on Gross Vehicle Weight? The tax scale would be steeply graduated so that lighter vehicles pay no tax, and the tax bite jumps sharply when you get above, lets say, something bigger than a VW Passat. This would help weed out big vehicles (exemptions granted for licensed freight carriers, etc.) and help drive the trend back to lighter, more fuel efficient means of transportation.

On a slightly different note, one thing that frosts me is the fact that my co-workers who take the subway to work are eligible for a subsidy to pay for their fare, while the lowly bike commuter is not entitled to squat. It's great that my employer is pushing public transportation, but I have my expenses as well. Tires, chains, cassettes -- they ain't free, you know. If you are going to subsidize getting to work, and the basis for doing so is to reduce car traffic in town, you have to be even handed in doling out the benefits....
Congressional bill...KEN2
May 8, 2002 10:50 AM
There's a bill before Congress to make bike commuting eligible for those tax subsidies, write your Representative to support it (I have written mine!).
Thanks! Will Do. (nm)Gregory Taylor
May 8, 2002 10:52 AM
I live in DC. Taxation without representation.MB1
May 8, 2002 12:46 PM
It basically is a hold over from fear of inner city blacks voting that DC doesn't have a vote in Congress or the Senate.

What a joke that the powers that be don't empower the 500,000 US citizens living in the District of Columbia.
Gas price is several times higher in most other countrieselviento
May 8, 2002 8:45 AM
Those "fools" in Washington have been good to you on that one.

It's normally safe to trash politicians, but believe it or not, the US government is one of the best at its job compared to the rest of the world.
Not that it isn't momentarily tempting...MB1
May 8, 2002 5:10 AM
I'm thinking about positive ways to encourage folks to enjoy cycling for its own sake.

Funny story though, last year when gas was hitting $2 a gallon Miss M was riding in the elevator after what I can only assume was a bad commute. People in the elevator were bemoaning the high cost of gasoline. Miss M was in her bike clothes. She glared at them and said "I hope gas goes up to $5 a gallon!" Guess that shut them up.

Must have been a pretty bad trip in, she is normally pretty quiet about cars.
Don't forget that your groceries are delivered by trucks... [nm]tz
May 8, 2002 5:28 AM
OK, here I goscruffyduncan
May 8, 2002 6:01 AM
Here in the UK gas costs about $4.50 a gallon, and still not pricey enough if you ask me. I feel for some of you americans who live in towns where there is no alternative if you want to get around, but unless the true cost of motoring (noise, smell, poison) is carried by the users then people will continue to use their cars at every opportunity, continue to buy homes further and further from where they work and commute there in bigger and bigger cars. If our impact on the planet is to be brough under control, then we are going to have to take a hit on our freedom to do what we want whenever we want. Drive a smaller car, drive it less, live in a smaller house, don't think that it's your right to do something because you can afford it financially, there are other costs and if you don't realise this then maybe the government will have to start levying them upon you.

Finally can we think about how many people are killed on the roads?, about 70 a week over here, so I can only guess at many times that over there. War on drugs?, war on terrorism? we have an enemy closer to home.

Ther you go , rant over
OK, here I gotz
May 8, 2002 6:38 AM
I am not saying that we should leave things the way they are. I am trying to point out that simply raising price of gas won't help. Prices will spiral, businesses will fail, but SUV's will still be out there.
Ban All Cars And Force People To RideEugene Kaudill
May 8, 2002 6:16 PM
It is the best thing mand could do for the environment is to ban the combustible engine.
Did you go to the Taliban school of environmentalism?Jekyll
May 9, 2002 4:54 AM
Nothing like believing in something enough to FORCE other people to abide by it at the point of a gun....
Eugene you're showing your true colors, thanks.
Oh and by the way, it the "internal combustion" and not "combustible" engine.
Read about the guy who biked 1 million miles?kenyee
May 8, 2002 5:45 AM
It was in this Sunday's Parade magazine (Boston Sunday Globe but I think Parade is carried by others). He actually biked over to Schwinn's house to get his bike fixed (at the time he called for help, he was in a different state). His touring bike weighs 100lbs w/ panniers.

Nice human interest story. He wanted to do something interesting in his life and decided to bike as far as Pluto...

BTW, most people use cars because of time efficiency (though the ones who always get stuck in traffic instead of taking faster subways are a bit nutty IMHO) usually. Different tools for different reasons. Bikes are great for exercise and commuting in congested areas or commuting if you can allocate 2-3x as much time as driving (assuming you don't have an accident since bikes don't have crumple zones)-:
He's up to 1.25 million or so now ...Humma Hah
May 8, 2002 6:47 AM
... great article, except the guy makes even Miss M look like a wimp!
yes, butDougSloan
May 8, 2002 5:52 AM
I think it might be different if you HAD to bike instead of doing it for fitness and recreation. It would be tough, but certainly not impossible, to pack up the kids in the trailer and tandem off to grandma's house 200 miles away for the weekend, or pack up 6 boxes of files and go to court, etc. I'd also have a hard time getting to court or a business meeting in a suit in pouring rain, 100 degree heat, and it would take far too long, seriously cutting productivity.

I agree that we can ride further than we think. When people asked about the 508, to put it in perspective I described for them going from Fresno to Los Angeles and back, 225 miles each way, and then some. It's incomprehensible to most people, though. Even a double century is hard to imagine.

If gas tripled in price, it would not change my driving at all. It would likely just be inflationary, and would hurt those who can least afford it the most. I suppose it would likely have the effect of making small cars more attractive.

America generally is just too spread out. We are not Europe, and don't have the same density. I read that if you put every human on earth in Texas, it would still not have the same density as London. Our infrastructure is pretty much in place, and designed around the car. We can't go back now, at least not too much. Gone are the days where people work close to where they live. Our cities aren't designed that way.

Riding everywhere is a romantic notion that just won't fit reality. I'd like to see it, too, but that's just not the way we live or can live. Nonetheless, I think more people could do more of it if they wanted to.

Doug
good points (nm)Becky
May 8, 2002 5:55 AM
Wait, it is not as hard as all that.MB1
May 8, 2002 6:19 AM
For starters pick a house near where you work. Then ride everywhere you can. Most trips to the store can easily be done on the way home from work. Shop everyday and you won't have to buy so much each trip.

Trust me on this one, commuting in the city is way faster by bicycle and safer too.

Weather is overused as an excuse to not ride. Ever heard of fenders?

Live in the 'burbs? The only worse place than the 'burbs is Fresno ;-)
It would require some major changes.DougSloan
May 8, 2002 6:37 AM
I can only speak for myself, but here are some major impediments:

1. A client calls in the middle of the day and wants to meet. The client is 15 miles across town, and the meeting is in 20 minutes. I rode my bike to work today.

2. I'm going to court or a deposition. I have 4 boxes of files, each of which weighs around 20 pounds. Occasionally, I also need 10 blow up foam boards, an easel, and a paralegal, too. Sometimes when I go to work I may not know that these things might take place - although I will 99% of the time.

3. It's nice when I go to work, but it turns nasty and pours rain at noon when I need to go to a meeting.

4. It's six miles to work. In a car, it takes 10-15 minutes, including getting in and out of the garages. By bike, by the time I get ready to ride, bike, and change again at the office, it's probably an hour. That's an extra 1.5 hours a day (while some training is involved, too, how much in 6 miles?).

5. I pick up dry cleaning on the way home.

6. I pick up groceries on the way home.

I do realize that many of these things could be managed, if I really wanted to. I could buy an extra car and keep it at work (cost). I could just drag a trailer along with me everywhere. I could simply be known as the "crazy smelly bike guy with grease on his leg".

Now, if I were a public defender...

Yes, I have all sorts of excuses, and I love to bike. I doubt you'll ever get those who can't even comprehend biking in the first place. I think it's a lost cause, but then you might have some impact; I just doubt significant. We have gone too far down the path.

Doug
Each journey begins with a single step.MB1
May 8, 2002 8:20 AM
Years ago I didn't commute all that much either. Here are some ideas.

Drive to work with all your bike stuff (your commuting bike has fenders of course) and tomorrows work clothes in the car. Ride home in the evening. Then you will have to ride to work the next day. I am sure you are at least a 2 car family so you will have a car at home all the time anyway.

Ride home the long way in the evening. Cruise the 6 miles to work in the morning so you are not all hot and sweaty. Then you have solved all those "How can I ride more" problems and you are nice and relaxed when you arrive home in the evening. you will start to look forward to your commute.

After a while you will be pretty comfortable doing this so you stretch it out. Next thing you know you are driving to work on Monday and home on Friday. The rest of the time the car is at work ready for any of your worries.

Get a messenger bag for shopping. It is amazing how much they hold.

Come on Doug. You are the guy whose life is changing. Less riding, more homelife. Commuting by bike once in a while will be a real positive for you. Knowing how you are here in no time at all you will become a avid supporter and advocate of bike commuting. Give it a try, even just one day a week.
Infrastructure/services helpMelMo
May 8, 2002 11:00 AM
It is true that many people's lives are not currently arranged so that biking is easy or even possible. However, (and this is not a criticism of Doug, more along the lines of general info for people interested in commuting by bike) in some cities, services and infrastructure are popping up that make it easier and more likely that people will look into alternative transit. For instance, in Seattle, all our city buses and most of the county buses have bike racks. There's also a great company called Flexcar that allows people to temporarily rent cars that are parked in strategic locations around the city--people pay different rates depending on how often they use the service. This makes it possible for people like my boss, who is a professional who often has meetings, to bike to work. He gets here by bike/ferry/bike, and takes a Flexcar if a meeting comes up. He keeps his dress wardrobe in his office, and gets his dry cleaning done here in downtown.

My point here is that a) it pays to carefully check out what's available in your area, b) if you have non-driving commuter services available to you, support them and tell all your friends about them so that they will continue to be there. And if you're an entrepeneurial type in a city with crappy traffic, maybe you should consider starting a Flexcar-type business, or a bike parking garage with showers, or...well, use your imagination.

Melinda in sunny (!) Seattle
yes, butTed
May 8, 2002 6:29 AM
Sorry I must disagree on your pop density point.

From http://www.demographia.com/dm-lon31.htm
The population density of London is 11652 (estimated for this year)

Based on 6 billion people in the world and a size for texas of 267339, http://web2.airmail.net/danb1/Txfacts.htm, that would put the density there being 22443.

Still London has a tremendous density

Ted
Not how I read it,TJeanloz
May 8, 2002 6:36 AM
If you look only at the population for 'inner' London; i.e. the actual city, it is 22,967; greater than your Texas number. The number you give is for the entire metropolitan London area.
The everybody should bike argument.Turtleherder
May 8, 2002 7:36 AM
When I hear the "everybody should be on a bike and not in their car argument" I always wonder if they have really thought it out. Can you imagine what the roads would look like if every half-wit, incompetent car driver was now on a bike, in front of you? It would be utter carnage. The same people that do not pay attention in their cars would ride their bikes in the same manner. The images of the thousands of bikes in Beijing slowly creeping along is not what I wish for myself or other cyclists.
traveling "outside of the box"Tig
May 8, 2002 10:44 AM
I won't contribute to the debate of bikes instead of cars. That has been covered quite well already. Instead, I'd like to share how much more enjoyable it is to ride a bike than it is to drive in a car. Sitting on a recliner-like seat with a cushy suspension, insulated from the surrounding countryside by glass and a sound-insulating cabin is almost like sitting at home watching TV. Granted, driving through urban sprawl is where the car is at it's best, especially during nasty weather. I agree with Doug on his practical points. But to ride, you get to sense so many extra things like the various fragrances of wild flowers, the subtle changes of temperature when going from a wooded grove of trees to an open field.

Slowing everything down from 65 MPH to 20 opens the doors of perception even wider. Instead of wind noise and over-played radio songs, we can listen to birds, crickets, each gust of wind, the soft hum of skinny tires on various pavement surfaces, our own breathing, and so many other sounds that would be blocked inside a car. We feel the surface irregularities and the push or pull of the wind with each stroke of the petal. We can become a part of our surrounding instead of a remote and insulated observer. Riding can be a Zen-like experience to anyone who opens his or her minds and senses. And no, I don't use drugs! LOL
you've hit on why cars are so popular...KEN2
May 8, 2002 11:28 AM
"Sitting on a recliner-like seat with a cushy suspension, insulated from the surrounding countryside by glass and a sound-insulating cabin is almost like sitting at home watching TV."

Isn't watching television one of the most popular pastimes in American homes? It seems to me that your attempted criticism of the similarities of driving and TV watching is actually an inadvertent statement of some reasons for its popularity.
speedDougSloan
May 8, 2002 1:06 PM
I think cars are popular largely because of speed and convenience, although motorcycles would probably be better, then. Safety, payload capacity, economy, all matter, too.

If you need to get back and forth to somewhere 15 miles away every day, no matter the weather, time of day, potentially with other people, with convenience to make side trips and haul stuff around, it's really hard to beat the car.

Some cars do become more like watching television in a den, but then some are more visceral -- the top down sports car, for example.

Over all, the ideal vehicle is really the motorcycle. Good economy, takes up less room, speedy, some payload capacity, and not very expensive (some).

Doug
not if you value safety as one of your top criteriakenyee
May 8, 2002 6:04 PM
No crumple zone w/ motorcycle. I've known friends who have lost legs after a motorcycle accident. Also know one who got road rash through a leather jacket after grabbing brakes too hard at a traffic stop (20mph accident).

It's amusing how many people here are willing to try to impose their own lifestyle (biking) on others (let's ban cars and jack up oil prices), yet scream when people who jog/rollerblade/drive, etc. but don't bike impinge on bike paths, etc.
traveling "outside of the box"guido
May 9, 2002 12:50 AM
This is a really interesting thread, but I heartily agree with Tig about the Zen of moving through the environment on a bicycle. Cars have destroyed the sense of community in America to the extent that young people aren't buying into it, if demonstrations in Seattle, Genoa, and other European and American cites is any indication.

So come the "smart growth" advocates, clumping populations much more densely together, with open green spaces in between them, connected by rail mass transit, bicycle and pedestrian friendly. The problem with expansion made possible and now designed around cars, is it has made society full of fearful, alienated people. Little Martha Stewart clones seek SUVs for security, mainly, in what everyone instinctively perceives as a hostile environment.

You are so right about the tunnel vision of life at 60 mph, or even 45, vs. opening the doors of perception when slowing to 18 mph. Gliding along silently at that speed, one presents a stately presence, a calming effect in the environment. Not enclosed in a steel shell with glass windows, one becomes a part of the world, not an insulated observer, as you said.

Gothic alienation, 100 cable TV channels, endless strip malls, this is what materialistic fervor has wrought, the mad consequences of individuality. Every man has his castle, and in the process has lost his brother.

Call it spiritual awakening, Environmentalism, Back to Mother Earth, whatever, it's an unmistakable trend away from material wealth and individual status. More urban planners are dreaming of a kinder and gentler urban landscape, attempting to recover what is perceived as lost community spirit, and bicycling will become very much a part of this renaissance.
just need higher mandated fuel efficiency standards...TPC
May 8, 2002 11:14 AM
...like the one's flopped on recently by congress--dumbasses.
Another thing that bugs me...TPC
May 8, 2002 11:39 AM
The goverment is pushing those advertisements saying that drug money funds terrorism. What a crock of sh1t.

It's the money we spend on oil that funds terrorism.

Here's my case:
1. The mideast's wealth has come almost exclusively from oil. They are in the middle of the desert. If it wasn't for oil, they would have (relatively) nothing.
2. Osama made his millions in construction, where did the money come from to pay for that construction? Oil.
3. Osama receives funds from other crazies in the mideast, where did they get their money? Oil.
4. Fact, in 2001, OPEC countries made over $500 million PER DAY from oil exports. Fact, in just the last 10 years OPEC countries have made over $1 TRILLION from oil exports.

At the very least, imagine the boost to the US economy if that money wasn't being funneled to the mideast but instead was being spent on domestic products.

And you think we don't need higher fuel efficiency standards and/or alternative fuel sources??? Sounds like you've been inhaling too much of your exhaust.
To answer the original title question...JL
May 9, 2002 5:54 AM
Yes, I am amazed at how far myself and others can go riding a bike. Distances seem almost "shorter" when I'm on my bike. When I have to make a long drive, I'm typically thinking something like "How long would this have been if I had ridden?", or "This would have made a great ride by bike." I'm also awed by other riders accomplishments here. Yours, Doug's and many others amaze me with the mileage ridden.
So far, my greatest riding accomplishment was my first Century last year. It was a great feeling, and one I hope to do more than once this year. I hope the next contract I get affords me the opportunity to try bike commuting, but for now I'll take my morning "commute" out and back from the house before the wife leaves for work, so I can watch the kids.

I think I read hear once, you either like riding or you don't. If you don't then we're the "freaks" who hear "How far? I could never do that!".

Happy riding.

JL