…one man's contribution to the Weeeeerly Wild World
From the outset I’ll add that I don’t consider myself to be a particularly fast cyclist; I just “potter about”, although I do like to try and at least keep my average speed up, if not try and improve on it (although this has been with little success), and my generalisations below are conveyed with humour.
I’d just paid a couple of clients a visit before continuing on my way to the shops, by bicycle of course – it’s how I roll. Just as I pulled up at the ‘car park’ and was locking my bike up, an older gentleman pulled up in his car nearby.
“Good riding!” he exclaimed as he got out of his car.
He then explained to me that he had been just leaving his driveway as I was leaving his estate, and I had managed to arrive at the same place just ahead of him. He was impressed.
I replied with a cheerful comment and added somewhat sarcastically, but with an air of truth (as I tend to do, this was off-the-cuff after all):
“It’s quicker to ride a bike, yes!?”
Sometimes such a comment could be offensive, who knows another person’s physical state or why they are using a car, I try and be considerate of this, this was an older gentleman, I’m quite certain a pensioner, but I’m sure my friendly humour was received well.
Google Maps tells me this journey was 1.9 miles and should have taken me 11 minutes and a car 6 minutes. It was wrong on this occasion.
Just last week I had been at a client’s house tending to her computer when it was discovered we needed a software disc that was at her relatives’ house. I was busy working away on other things when she decided to pop out to collect the software, in her car. While she was away I thought I should have gone on my bike instead, knowing the short distance I could have been back in the same time, or less, given the reversing and manoeuvring of her car required at each end of the journey.
According to Google Maps this was a pitifully short trip to be making by car, about half a mile there and back and would apparently take a bicycle 8 minutes. Or even just 12 minutes if walked. 12 minutes of fresh air!
I don’t criticise individuals for such decisions, it’s ingrained in our social habits, it’s the norm, sadly, especially when there is a grey-looking cloud in the sky. Only a few of us turn these habits around; for me, even when I did still have my car such short journeys by car wouldn’t even have been considered. In my ideal world, if there were cars to be driven they would only be used for journeys of an agreed minimum length.
How far should this be? Children here in the UK get free bus passes if they live over a few miles away from school, therefore this must be a good starting point; anything less than this distance can be walked or cycles, I used to, and this is how it used to be years ago before our insatiable appetite for consuming fossil fuel to aid our getting about grew to preposterous levels (and electric cars, unless solar powered, are no get-out-of-jail-free-card).
All children between 5 and 16 qualify for free school transport if they go to their nearest suitable school and live at least:
– 2 miles from the school if they’re under 8
– 3 miles from the school if they’re 8 or older
Yet many a parent would choose to drive their children to school if they don’t qualify for a free bus pass, rather than send them off on foot or by bike, probably claiming how unsafe it is. I have two arguements for this:
In the current world people use their car for stupidly short journeys, going from one part of town to another part a short distance away; time and again I encounter such people while I’m out on my bike and they often get in my way – by this I mean the ones that overtake and then hold me up at a junction or speed bump; or as in the first case, they arrive no quicker, and generally in poorer health.
Some months back I heard how travelling through some busy streets of London by car was now slower than it used to be by horse and cart. I can tell you that riding a bike is quicker than riding a horse; I’ve never been overtaken by a horse but I have passed many. Yet people choose the car in these environments.
And I shall end with a video from the GCN guys:
One point they didn’t raise was the carbon foot-print of constructing and maintaining roads; a bicycle will have far less wear and tear on the surface. And the point about vegan diets is not so clear-cut. As Simon Fairlie put it in his book about Meat “[traditionally] the main role of animals is to turn vegetation that cannot be eaten or economically harvested by humans into useful goods and services.” p.36, and p.42: “A vegan diet is neither sensible nor attainable for society as a whole.” and p.152 “Vegan and vegetarian diets in a northern country are limited.” Although Dr. Nun S. Amen Ra shows what is possible on a vegan diet.