The joy of riding a bike
sticking it to polluters

by Jan Lundberg of Culture Change

Giving one's money to major polluters is today's most unconscious act of a member of the herd. The consumers' actual chant is not really "Shop 'til You Drop," but "Baa-Baa Use My Money for Evil."

That's one of the thoughts you get when you take the time to ride your bicycle in peace: happy to not be polluting, while reflecting on society. Giving Detroit several thousand of your hard-earned dollars is like buying a bag of groceries for your executioner.

For couch potatoes, many of whom are dutiful commuters 'a pollutin', a lusty piss may be one of the few basic, free pleasures left. As technology allows corporate messages to take over our daydreams, Americans' affirmations of living grow thinner by the day. Humdrum occurrences take on greater meaning, connecting drones a bit to nature in the artificial work/suburban environment. And these "pleasures" have falsely ascended amongst worthwhile activities, such that the act of riding a bicycle has fallen by the wayside amongst darn good pastimes.

Now, I'm spoiled as a walker who eschews biking, especially on disgusting pavement amidst deadly cars. But hey, I can dig a bike ride still. I just biked from one town to another, and avoided more cars than go by in one minute at Sepulveda and Wilshire Boulevards, the busiest car intersection in the world. It's in Westwood, where I had the misfortune of attending UCLA, a commuter school.

Okay, let's get excited! Sex? Who would you rather make love with, a bicyclist, or an SUV pudgy-wudgy? 'Nuff said.

You can bike at night without a light to guide your way. It kind of depends on the color of the road or path, but the night is not totally black, especially some nights. There are times I figured I was relying on star light. Try that driving a car. No, don't.

I don't have much time to be in cars. When I do ride in a car, it is usually to humor the unfortunate car dependent friend or family member. I gather that they'd rather not "need" a car.

The majority of US citizens believe a bike is a toy. And many a kid is only allowed to ride the bike when the parent is "pacing" alongside in one of the family's cars. When I graduated high school in 1970 (Hollywood High), sixty per cent of all school kids biked or walked to school. Now, no doubt because kids' parents care so much about global warming and war for oil, only ten per cent of US kids bike or walk to school. Obesity and asthma have skyrocketed among children in the US and other "advanced" cities of civilization, such as the UK. Q: Why is this happening? A: A few people are making money on it.

Trains are a joy, but the US does not know much of that firsthand anymore. AMTRAK is on the chopping block by "leaders" who believe who you sleep with is of a greater concern than letting us all hop on trains and reduce energy pollution by eighty per cent. That's the actual figure for replacing trucks with rail transport.

One hard thing about freight trains is their difficulty in allowing you to board with your bike while they are moving. Oh well, you can leave the bikes next to the tracks.

By now, you might have guessed that $uccess makes me ill. To be around it, even though I am not enslaved by it, makes me almost feel like vomiting. That's because I see the loneliness of the isolated households and the surfeit of waste that diminishes so many lives. Extinction faces our species, like the many other species we are driving extinct.

Society today is a form of cannibalism, whereby ferocious but clever people stick their victims to draw enough blood to thrive on.

The generations relying on abundant fossil fuels have softened and weakened, compared to our ancestors who worked physically harder. The power we are accustomed to exploiting by flipping a switch is on the order of mucho horsepower. And horses need to eat; one cannot take horsepower and animal manure for granted.

Bicycling and walking are, therefore, closer to the land and what our bodies can naturally achieve. Today, most of the US population would have to be dragged kicking and screaming out of their cars and away from their other global-warming appliances. However, when mass hunger strikes, attitudes will change overnight.

One of the murkier questions for the few of us thinking about post-collapse sustainable society: How well delivered will we be from the oppressive elite, or those clinging to their SUVs with shootspistols? Debate dances on issues of how much material wealth will remain at the disposal of those not disposed to working cooperatively for the local common good. Some thinkers today anticipate complete collapse and universal abandonment of unworkable hierarchical models. Others believe there will be strongholds of oil-based power (Gates Castle, Fortress Bush).

Other questions include theoretical population sizes and the duration of remnants of petroleum-civilization holdouts. To quote Sheik Yamani, "the Stone Age did not end from running out of stones, and the Oil Age will not end from running out of oil."

If you are worried about enough bikes to go around upon the loss of petroleum for cars, relax. With the die-off that will hit massively when agriculture and food-transport are terminated by the global energy crisis, there will be plenty of extra bikes.


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