A few weeks ago, Paul Dorn reported the results of an informal survey asking his readers why they commute by bike
. Not surprisingly, most respondents selected selfish reasons: they commute by bike for their personal fitness and because it's fun. Only about one in five reported they bike to save the environment.
This matches my experience -- I ride a bike partly because I'm a natural cheapskate, but mostly I'm hooked to bicycling like a coke fiend is addicted to his drug. I don't bike for hippy dippy reasons like global warming or resource inequity.
Media attention and higher prices are raising awareness among Americans of these "hippy dippy" issues, however. While some of my cycling compatriots express glee
at the economic pain of their gas-burning neighbors, the decline in oil production will soon result in pain and suffering for large portions of the world population, including people right here in the United States as CycleDog points out
: "Fuel prices ripple through the economy, and cyclists are not immune. It costs more money to deliver groceries to the local store. It costs more for bus service or any other service that relies on a fleet of vehicles,
" he reminds us. "If oil prices increase drastically, expect other forms of fuel to increase as well. Pressure from upwardly spiraling oil costs will cause similar increases in natural gas.
In spite of my non-ethical reasons for bicycling, I'm becoming increasingly convinced that the driving I do is immoral
. When auto fuel reaches $10 a gallon, you can bet that a significant portion of worldwide
food production will be diverted to fuel American and European cars, and too bad for the starving brown and black babies who will die.
I have full confidence in the ability of my fellow Americans to shrug off the moral quandary of convenience over sacrifice, but perhaps more of us will switch to a lower-footprint lifestyle for the selfish reasons. Phil @ Spinopsys reports on a quiet revolution
of bicycling. "Having someone see money flying out of their pockets on a daily basis is a far more successful agent for change than appeals to think of the poor residents of Dhaka who may soon be under water and burning cow dung to heat the daily meal
," Phil writes. "So yes, a quiet revolution is taking place, though sometimes it may be more sullen resignation than joy.
I've encountered many many new bicycle commuters over the past few years both in person and over the Internet through blogs, forums, and email discussion lists. While many of the newbies have been motivated by finances or white guilt, I hope you've come to find cycling as a wonderful, beneficial, fun and positive way to get around.