Monday, May 9, 2011

Enough with the Whining about Gas Prices Already!

My life on a bike has been dull and uneventful for several months.  I haven't had much inspirational material to write about as I did when I worked downtown.  I only pedal about 8 minutes to work each day, almost a straight route from my suburban neighborhood up the road to the airport where I work.  I pass national forest on my way in and have an outstanding view of the San Francisco Peaks on my way home.  This sounds great, I know, but believe me, as a confirmed city girl, if you've seen one tree you've seen 'em all.  I really miss living around the corner from coffee shops, pubs and art galleries.  Speaking of corners, they should all come equipped with a decorative iron litter receptacle mounted to the sidewalk.

Living in land of the play dates and undeveloped lots that are frequently mistaken for "open space", I'm one of the few that does not climb into an over-sized SUV for each and every trip.  Even though I live less than 1/2 mile from work, many people are still surprised that I ride a bike to work.

Before anyone accuses me of being smug, I'd like to point out that my husband and I also choose to drive our car when it is more convenient for us, so we do have to fill up the gas tank at least once a month. Yes, we are quite aware that gas is more expensive than it was last year and that higher gas prices can drive up the cost of other items that we need to buy. We do not have anything even approaching unlimited financial resources so we are affected by higher has prices, but . . . we are not flipping out about higher gas prices.

I suspect that most regular readers of and new visitors SRAB are not flipping out about the price of gas either because they have rejected the following refrains:
  • "Oh, people will never do that'";
  • "That's just not what Americans will do''";
  • "Americans need their cars.";
  • "You can't tell Americans not to drive.", or my personal favorite;
  • "That won't work here."?
When do we get to start having a real, lasting conversation about more sustainable, economical and healthier transportation options outside of the blogosphere?  Those tired excuses for doing the same old stupid thing are themselves so stupid that I'm at a loss as to how to effectively respond when I hear them.  Am I not American?  Didn't I go from complete car dependence to become an experienced rider and enthusiastic fan of public transit?  I could be wrong but I'm pretty sure that if forced to go car-free, we'd manage with our bikes and ingenuity. 

I try not to indulge too many political rants on this blog but I'm just so tired of all the whining.  And embarrassed.  I wonder how it sounds to our fellow Americans who have never had any other option but to live car-free?  I have occasionally heard of these car-free people referred to as "the invisible" - the people that we pretend not to see.  They sell us fries in the drive-thru or clean up our office after we leave at 5.  They are the people who traditionally do what they have to do to make ends meet, often the things upwardly mobile Americans were told they would never do or assured that they will never have to do.  So now that the upwardly are increasingly finding themselves the downwardly (did I just make up a word?), would this be a convenient time to begin taking a look at what American can and will do to confront challenges like gas prices that go up and down and a standard of living that will not likely match that of our parents?  I don't recall a time in my lifetime when ALL of us have been asked to do something really big and hard for the betterment of our country but I understand from my grandparents, now deceased, that they were.  If they were alive today, I'd love to ask them if they recall a whole lot of whining about it.


Oldfool said...

Downwardly. I like it.

Ben said...

I sometimes think these higher gas prices are a blessing in disguise, as they will force a change in how we live for the better. Biking for one, will become common. Exurbs might die off. Local farming may increase. Etc. Etc... Also, interesting observation of your friends being aghast that you ride such a short distance to work. Some mindsets out there are quite pathetic, or perhaps simply anesthetized to true human potential.

She Rides a Bike said...

Yeah, Ben, I'm a little amazed that a bike ride futher than the mailbox corral inspires such admiration - or perhaps simply confusion. It's like we are the Weeble-like Earth refugees from Wall-E and even the slightest bit of human powered movement is death-defying.

Old Fool, I think I did coin the word "Downwardly". You heard it here first so use it carefully.

Cori said...

Perhaps we need to appeal to people's self interest more with the promotion of better mental and physical health with the increased exercise :) Or maybe if more comapnies, like my husband's, gave their employees a monthly financial bonus for bike commuting....

She Rides a Bike said...

I agree w/ your point Cori. So often, the argument in favor of bike commuting is focused on being "green" but I made the switch to save money on gas and maintaining two cars. Caring for only one car is so much more economical and that alone was a big stress reliever.

There are numerous advantages for businesses to promote bike commuting among their employees, especially if parking is in short supply for their customers or the company leases parking for their employees. Parking is never free. Someone always pays.