BikeCommuters.com

Bike Your Drive!

i love the smell of apathy in the morning

There is no denying the fact that Phoenix stinks. Seriously, the city (generally speaking) has a bad odor to it. This is a fact that I never really came to notice until I started bike commuting. And as it has become custom for me to do, I contemplate these things while I am riding to and from work each day. It is easy to see why the city has a foul odor – there is litter everywhere, a plethora of cars and machines spewing pollutants, very little natural “greenspace,” and trash cans baking in the intense sun. But why is that the case?

Reluctantly, and non-judgmentally, I think America’s “car-culture” is, at one level, a root cause of such a catastrophe as a smelly city. It is our willingness to drive even only down the street to a store or friends house that facilitates the downward spiral into poor city conditions. When we step into a car, we are removing ourselves from our surroundings, and just as Robert Pirsig wrote about in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, viewing the world through a frame – just as we do when watching tv. All of a sudden, the world around us does not seem real, but mere fiction. And therefore the problems in that world are just as fictional. When we are in cars, we don’t have to worry about the litter or the smell, because it does not exist. We do not see it and we do not smell it.

I never intend to force my personal beliefs on anyone else. But from time to time, in order to provide appropriate context, it is necessary to reveal things about one-self and the life one lives. So here is a story:

This past Sunday at church, the priest (Father Gil) gave a well-delivered sermon about the growing disparity between rich and poor. Episcopalians use 3 readings from scripture during every Sunday service, and this week there was a reading from Luke’s gospel about a rich man and a poor man, to which Fr. Gil stated the following:

What was the rich man’s sin that resulted in him being sent to Hades? It seems that his sin was what he didn’t do rather than what he did. He ignored the poor man Lazarus. He didn’t do anything to help Lazarus. He averted his eyes from Lazarus’ condition and did nothing to help him. [read more…]

And tying this back into bike commuting: it is our willingness, as modern Americans, to drive anywhere and everywhere that facilitates a culture that ignores the real problems of our own communities. I guarantee that no one who walks by all the trash on the road smiles and says, “that is so pretty, and the smell…heavenly!” Instead, we plop ourselves into a car to drive someplace, and are not confronted with the reality of it. It’s not that we are always the ones creating the litter. But we ignore it, all from the comfort of our air conditioned, sea breeze-scented, rolling world-shrinker.

So it is only when we immerse ourselves in reality that we can truly see what the problems are. And I have the youthful ignorance to believe that when those problems become real to each of us, we will eventually reach a tipping point and do something about it. And because of that, I urge people to take a bike ride or a walk around something as remote and small as your own neighborhood, and if you see a piece of trash, pick it up. It’s such a simple thing to do – and as we do it more frequently, it will become almost second nature, until we restore the care and respect for our surroundings. Our neighborhoods and our cities need it. And our conscience will be happy…

The Velorution is about more than bikes.

RL Biking his Drive

Right before Interbike I had just changed the oil, checked the fluids and kicked the tires on my Korean Grocery Getter since we were going to use it to drive to Vegas. Well, as I headed out for lunch, I noticed that there was a puddle of coolant under my car. I had suspected earlier that it was my car since I could smell the sweet scent of the green stuff.

I checked the car over once I got home and found that there was a long crack that went right through the middle of the tank. I’m not sure how that happened but it basically meant that I’m going to have to pay through the nose to get it fixed.

Luckily, I have a friend that has a shop that allows me to work on my cars and get parts at his cost, but like I said I have to work on my own cars. Nuff said, so I’ll be out a few hundred dollars again.

Well that was last week and my car is still parked in my spot just collecting dust. I haven’t heard back from my buddy to see when I could come by to replace my radiator. So this whole time I’ve been riding my bike more than I have in the past.

On Monday I rode the kids to work on the Xtracycle, then went straight to the office. Then today I did have a meeting that was way far, so Priscilla drove her car to her office and I told her that I’d come by later to grab the car for my meeting.

I dropped the kids off at school via Xtracycle — we get tons of attention on that thing! Then I went home, grabbed my Redline Nacho and rode to Priscilla’s office. Loaded up my Nacho and headed out to my appointment.

I’m seriously trying to put off repairing my car just so I don’t have to shell out the money, and I’m actually having fun biking my drive!