Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Why Bike Transportation? Reason #7

Reason #10 – "Unrighteous Pride"
Reason #9 - The Environment
Reason #8 – Sense of Achievement

Reason #7 - Social Responsibility / Conservation

This one is somewhat related to #9, "The Environment," but deals with consumption, rather than the side-effects of that consumption. Hopefully my reader can understand the distinction.

One of the enduring lessons I learned from my years in Boy Scouts is – leave a place at least as nice as you found it.

Am I doing that with Mother Earth? (Are you?) Will this beautiful planet be none the worse for the wear, on account of my having been here? I believe that's a meaningful question.

Another concept that relates closely to conservation is that of "sustainability." Am I using resources more quickly than they can be replenished?

Let's compare a bicycle with a Ford Excursion for a moment.

Now, ideally, Ford would want that Excursion loaded with passengers (perhaps even Boy Scouts!) and gear… under those conditions, it's quite an efficient form of transportation. At least way more so than when it's being used to convey Junior Executive and his briefcase, alone to the office. And that seems to be what the vast majority of Ford Excursion trips are for. (The exact same job my bicycle is doing, 'cept I've not attained "junior executive" status, and don't have a briefcase.)

My community – Boise Idaho and surrounding area – is reeling under the impact of thousands and thousands of new houses, out in the sprawl. It's mind-boggling to listen to the radio traffic reports in the morning, and starting by 6:30am, it's already "slow and go" on the Interstate coming into town. There's no relief in sight.

Take a survey. Look at those vehicles. The vast majority (I'd guess 90%, maybe more) each has one occupant. When you figure the fuel burned and the infrastructure required to carry that traffic… can you envision a less-efficient transportation model? It's absurd! (And then many of those drive-alone people complain about traffic! Duh!) And think of the space required to park all those vehicles. That is a LOT of dedicated blacktop!

Also, the price of gas is driven by supply and demand. Naturally, all those single-occupant vehicles cause fuel prices to stay right up there. (So when I have to buy gas, I pay the price that's dictated by everybody else's insatiable appetite for the stuff, rather than my own. But I oughtta quit my whining… I don't buy anywhere near my fair share.)

I like riding a bicycle because, to the best of my knowledge, indeed the earth will be as nice as I found it, when the time comes for me to check out.

(Photo by Dan Burden, from


Anonymous said...

Wonderful point! And I appreciate the reminder of the wonderful old Boy Scout adage about responsibility.

Bikeboy said...

Thanks, Danielo!

The BSA Outdoor Code:

As an American, I will do my best to:
- Be clean in my outdoor manners
- Be careful with fire
- Be considerate in the outdoors, and
- Be conservation minded.

I don't see anything to suggest that it's only valid when we're out camping. (All Boy Scouts - even grown-up ones - should minimize their impact on the environment, don't you think?)