REVOLUTIONS- biking in NJ
Saturday, 17 September 2005
The Bicycle Militia?
Recall all those stories in the 1990's about radical Americans moving out west and starting armed groups, which came to be dubbed "militia's"?
The thought occured to me today as the price of gas began to go down, and I had my car fixed, but still rode a bike today. And then it hit me. All of us who ride -- for whatever reason -- are like a militia, throwing some collossal wrench into the engine of organization, social planning, and restriction.
By not doing the expected, or traditional, or "normal" thing -- drive -- we unnerve people. We puzzle them. And we occaisionally piss them off. But the end resultis that, as a whole, American cyclists are a strongwilled group. There are probably more cyclists who honestyl ride regularly, then there are religious people who can truthfuly say they regularly attend sermons. And the truth is that it's fun.
But what we have long done for fun -- often independently of one another -- is now coming together. $3.59 a gallon gas, even if it recovers to like $3 a gallon, will forever change America. Recallt he gas hikes of the 1970's? The price never went down after that.
But becausde we ride more than drive, regular cyclists are not being hit -- financially or through frustration -- by this ten-pound sledge hammer every time they go somewhere.
Because we do what's considered dangerous, unusual, and maybe a little odd [f-ing nuts I've been told] out coworkers, noncycling friends, and family regard us as wierd. Those who overestimate the effort needed to ride think that something as simple as a 40 mile ride is a herculean effort. Hey, if they want to overglorify what we are and do with resperception, the errors to the advantage, eh?
But the result is we do not fit in, we are misfits, like the militia who removes themselves from society to go train in the woods. The difference is that unlike the militia we are waging our war every day, a war against waste, frustration, absurdly high gas prices and mind-killing "routine". To us a spin to the store can a be fun adventure; to the guy int he Hummer it simply costs ten bucks.
As we wage our war, maybe the social fabric will shift, the cylcists will be welcomed, and everyone would take up biking -- or at least stop treating those who bike as freaks. But I doubt it -- and somehow, if that were to happen, it would seem almost like the enemy of mediocrity won. Who wants to be mainstream an "normal" anyway?
I'd rather be a part of the "bicycle militia" of America -- doing my own thing, and at the same time holding back to curtain of cosmic insignifigance with each turn of the cransk, and frustrating the government catagorizers and rule makers with each click of my SPD cleats on pavement.
Why? Not sure. But tearing a hole through that curtain is a hell of a lot more enjoyable than letting it fall.
Wednesday, 14 September 2005
Signs of the times
It is amazing what goes through your head when you are looking to punch out. On my commute a car was turning, traffic backed up. As it was a main road and I normally ride to the side, I began passing the cars -- until I got to this one prick who had pulled all the way up to the curb. Unclipping the foot I normally don't use, I stopped and barely missed gettin' squashed. Naturally in the second before I hit the brakes, my mind wandered...
Thinking of that incident in Oregon where a cyclist who looked like ZZ Top ran a stop sign and hit a woman crossing in an "unmarked crosswalk", I couldn't help but notice on my way to work that there's this one stopsign I sometimes go through. Mind you, I slow first, but if no one is driving on the shoulder I'll go.
I thought about why this is . After all, I stop for red lights and signal when turning left or right. If riding with others I point out potholes, etc. So why do I sometimes go through the stopsign?
The answer is as obvious as it is a no-brainer; I'm riding on the shoulder, not in the middle of the lane. Ergo, even if there is a car coming, I am riding parallel to him, not in line with him, so it endangers neither him nor me to turn, provided he's not driving on the shoulder or the curb.
This is one of the paradoxes of cycling. Though bicycles are the only vehicles with a legal right to "share the road" aside from consenting motorbikers, the convention is for cyclists to keep to the side on main roads, if they are going slower than traffic -- the exception to be when coming up to a red light you go into the right lane, or when turning left you go in the left lane.
This occurs to me as I ponder the response of angry motorists who often shout at me to "get over" and stop "taking up space" - or the prick who nearly turned me into a chef salad:
First, if cyclists have to obey traffic laws -- and we do -- should we not be entitled to road space as much as cars?
Secondly, if cycling Americans are going to ride off the side to make way for faster moving cars -- i.e., not be entitled to "equal" road space -- than why should they then stop for cars that are no longer in their line of travel? If the cars want you to ride on the shoulder, then why should you wait for traffic backed up in the main lane if the shoulder is clear? The fact is this paradox is impossible to now resolve; the same people who demand you "keep right" as far as possible, will -- during a traffic jam -- block the "right" so you cannot go past. Ride in line with the cars, get b!tched at and maybe hit; ride on the shoulder, get squished or blocked in.
If cyclists ride erratically, it leads to condemnation of "dangerous" bikers. If cars drive erratically, the bicyclists are expected to accommodate them. That the cyclists may only be riding in this manner to avoid erratic drivers almost never occurs to the bike bashers who would like to yank us off the roads and confine us to useless bike paths in lifeless parks.
Look mack, either I ride in lane -- or not. And if you want me on the shoulder, don't f#$%ing block it.
Perhaps if the drivers were consistent this would not be a problem, but until they can learn to stick with one line of thought, it means cyclists will have to be vigilant.
But it wouldn't hurt for drivers to stop being erratic, either.
Tuesday, 13 September 2005
Word from a post on the fixed gear bike forum [www.fixedgeargallery.com] is that some dude out west (Oregon?) "struck and killed" a 70-odd year old woman and is being charged with manslaughter.
Apparently he ran a stopsign.
This relates to a similar announcement that authorities are cracking down on "lawless" cyclists in Chicago -- a trend that may spread elsewhere if angry columns in papers from New York to Tuscon are any indication.
Of course, what the authorities aren't stressing is that the cyclist hit her when she was in an "unmarked crosswalk".
Apparently in Oregon, any intersection is a crosswalk, even where there isn't one. I'm no expert on driving codes beyond the basics but this strikes me as sadly amusing. Maybe in Oregon it's an "unmarked crosswalk"; here in NJ it's called "jaywalking".
She was jaywalking -- fact. He ran a stop sign -- allegedly. Two wrongs don't make a right, but jeez, even if it's legal to cross where there's no markings, that doesn't make it safe. Where did common sense go, into that supposed ozone hole?
That the incident coincides with a crackdown on cyclists is alarming. As is the newspaper's description. "Struck and killed?" Maybe with a car that'd be a given, but with a bicycle, especially as she was a senior citizen, it may have been "struck and fell and died". The seemingly harmless cliche employed in this instance buts the direct blame for her death on the cyclist. This isn't just semantics; if she died from hitting the ground then the cyclist just knocked her over; an elderly condition would be to blame for her death. But in their sloppy use of tired soundbytres the newscrapers effortlessly paint the cyclist as pr oven guilty.
Make no mistake, no one should run a stop sign. But pedestrians should look before crossing streets -- especially where there is no crosswalk. Jaywalking by any other name...
The same anti-bike people constantly demand bicyclists defer to cars even if we have the right of way. A car runs a stop sign -- we should have stopped. A car pulls out without signaling a turn -- it's our fault for being on the street. Why is it no surprise that the same people who denounce cyclists for not being careful enough to accommodate other's bad / illegal driving, are now painting this woman as a "victim", as if she had the "right" to plod across an unmarked intersection oblivious to danger?
Sure, he allegedly ran a stop sign. And she was jaywalking.
What part of this story is cut and dried? Only in the world of the media, who on one hand rip Americans for not being more "eco-friendly" and then defend the right of SUV drivers to squash law-abiding cyclists by claiming that it's justified by one or two "reckless" riders.
The Chicago crackdown -- like the Oregon case -- is one of many waiting to happen. Given the police harrassment of cyclists during the unofficially sanctioned rides like "critical mass", et al, one would hate to see what results if the same unfortunate incident happens in New York or New Jersey. Cyclists may soon find that they have rooms reserved for them in Guantanamo Bay next to Al Quaeda types with beards down to here. Priorities? 'But cyclists are dangerous!' scream the media types as they break motor vehicle laws in their massive Sporte Utility Vehicles ...as one irate SUV-driving columnist so clearly illustrated in an Arizona newspaper, in which he described an incident where he nearly ran over a cyclist, who he claimed didn't see his turn signal -- maybe another SUV was in the way or he put it on after the cyclist had passed? His take on things -- which typifies the official response in Chicago, and the one-sided reporting of the "struck and killed" story -- is that bikes are the offender in all runs ins, either with car or person, just because they are bikes. Even in "unmarked crosswalks".
As the writer of the editorial on the Chicago crackdown put it bikes are "the problem" -- and riders should "consider [themselves] to be unarmed Americans in Baghdad -- at dusk", as that happy fellow from Arizona wrote, stating that he was surpirsed (he seemed disapointed) that more dead cyclists haven't turned up hit by cars.
Yeah, sure. But jaywalking should be protected.
Hypocrisy is too tame a word for it.
Monday, 12 September 2005
Breaking out the torches again - authorities go after cyclists
Topic: breaking out the torches
There is a line in an old song by the Eagles: "Curising down the center of a two-way street, wondering who is really in the driver's seat/ minding my business, along comes big brother / says Son, you better get on, one side or the other!"
There is also a line from an old song I once heard live at the Coffe shop where I often rode on my bike that describes the attitude of drivers and authorities to those of us on bikes, who are percieved as "driving down the center" as the Eagles said, and doing other such things, literally or figuratively, which don't fit with the trends or rules: "They are taking up the torches again".
The following is from a Chicago editorial blasting cyclists: "Chicago -- Even though I am a year-round bike commuter, the negative and self-righteous response of the biking community to a planned police crackdown on law-breaking cyclists in Lakeview has convinced me that such a crackdown is not only desirable but necessary."
Why should a group of people NOT be objecting -- and loudly -- to efforts to define them by the actions of a few lawless memebers? If a gangster uses a gun to murder, does that make every hunter or sportsman a villain? If a rapper shoots up a club, does that mean everyone listening to rap is a criminal? Hardly. So why does one bad cyclist mean we are all to be cursed as reckelss and lawbreaking? If the same standard were applied to drivers tyhe lot of them would have been rounded up a long time ago, back when I was knee-high to a Newark cockroach.
The madness continues...
"Judging by recent letters to the editor, cyclists seem to think that because they are keeping fit and not burning gas they have a moral right to cruise through stop signs and ride on the sidewalks. Alternatively they can do these things because they are victimized by clumsy, incompetent motorists and should not be further persecuted by the authorities.
Neither justification holds water. I, too, have cruised through stop signs and ridden on sidewalks, but I also recognize, unlike most of your correspondents, that these things are illegal because they are dangerous. There is not a single day on my commute to work in which I don't see at least one cyclist run a stop sign where the car with the right-of-way is forced to a halt. Chicago drivers--who have more sense then we credit them with--save the lives of far more cyclists than they kill."
Maybe in Chicago. But my own experience in NJ -- having been hit by cars 5 times, had one broken leg and one reconstructed shoulder -- is that drivers break laws. They float stop signs, they turn without signalling, they even try to run you off the road.
I am aware that some cyclists do these things too. Cracking down on the guy riding a 18-lb bicycle who runs a stop sign might make sense if drivers were no longer doing so. But while the same things is done by those in 2-ton automobiles, which are not only larger but more numerous, is it not wasteful and stupid to direct law enforcement efforts to going after cyclists, who are not only much fewer, but less likely, really, to kill large numbers of people and cause massive property damage? The cars are greater in number and more dangerous and there are many many more bad drivers than bad cyclists. Let's face it, the cyclist has a lot to lose if he hits a car or a truck [SUV's they call them now]. I can tell you from personal experience that driver's don't seem to feel any reason to worry about hitting cyclists.
This isn't to excuse the fact that a few cyclists run stopsigns -- or ride on the sidewalk. But the truth is that while drivers are still breaking laws with impunity in vehicles that pose a great risk to life and limb, it makes no sense to go after cyclists.
What times we live in.
Sunday, 11 September 2005
The Dark Side Continues to Revolve
9-11-05: As the nation remembers the destruction of Sept. 11, it's fitting to ride a fixed gear bicycle. My front-brake only, drop bar, "track style" Schwinn fix, which I built out of rubbish -- now with the left-side drive train -- is not only fun but it's a statement. After all the nations and terror-mongers behind Sept 11, from the propaganda-spewing Saudis to Al Quaeda, all profit from our use of oil. We pay for gas, and that money goes to fund more indoctrination and terrorism, either derictly or indirectly. So riding any bike says "Proud to be an American" a lot louder than driving any wasteful gas guzzling behemouth especially in wartime, no matter how many patriotic stickers you plaster the behemouth with.
That said, fixed gearers tend to be slightly more hard-core than most cyclists -- more anti-car, more rebellious, although this is often perceived as -- and may be -- cliquishness, especially in the bike messenger and wanna be bike messenger fraternity. I am honest, I'm not bike messenger, but I like my fixed gear as much as the next guy. I'm not exaqctly anti-car, either, I just like riding my bike... but the blue Schwinn fix with it's "one f-ing speed" scrawled on the top tube is kind of like a huge extended middle finger to all the cars I pass. The fixed gear's essential, stripped-down nature makes it the essence of bicycle as a get-away-from-it-all hassle-free self-dependent and self-determined life. You ride at your own pace where you want to, when you want to, dependent on your own sweat and steam.
I learned a lot since switching this bike to "backwards" drive; I had to swap the pedal spindles and tighten the pedals into the cranks real good; I realized I had to reverse the chainring bolts after one unscrewed mid ride and shot off across the street with a "ping" like a bb gun pellet beaning a wall. Physically the bike rides the same no matter which side you mount the drive side on; two days into left-side drive I may ask is it worth the hassle as it makes no difference in ride quality, and is harder to put together? The answer is yes because it makes my bike unique. It also made me exceptionally aware of forces I'd never htought much about which are constantly at work on your bike's drive train, pushing and pulling.
As i rode, these last few days, I noticedf a lot more people on bikes. The older lady in my 'hood, who I fixed a bike for, was out riding around; local guys who I had never seen on a bike had taken out old hybrids or ten-speeds and hit the streets. This morning I say a couple on a pair of Pacific mtb's, with racks and stuff, riding. whether it's the gas prices or patriotism, or a tad of both, people are riding more, and it's people who wouldn't normally ride; the people who look at my fixed gear and say "you're nuts". Maybe I am. But in a country which buys the lifeblood of it's automotive economy from hostile regimes, where "normal" people will drive down to the edge of the street to check their mailbox, and use 5-ton trucks to hop across town for a gallon of milk, maybe a little craziness is what we all need.
Will those who ride to save $ on gas keep on riding if prices decline to more reasonable levels? Will the realize how much fun it is and keep at it -- or will they put the bikes away, not to be ridden for another ten years, until gas goes up again?
More to the point, whether they kerep riding has a good deal to do with how existing cyclists treat them. Some might see a guy on a Pacific mountainbike as a poser or a wanna be or "not a real cyclists". I say that anyone on a bike is a good thing, and every second a person rides, every moment stolen on two wheels, is worth three off the bike. If those of us who were riding all along welcome those who take to the bike for economic reasons, they mighbt stick with the bike, out of enjoyment. But the same snobbery or cliquishness that some fixed gear riders might direct at those of us who ride fixes, yet aren't messengers, can just as easily be directed at those new riders. I don't care what folks think; I show up for work in bike shorts. Most people are sadly sensative to other's words and could be turned off to bikes by the wrong attitude. Be nice to that guy on the Pacific. If so he's more likely to keep riding. It's not like his being on a bike that isn't hot somehow dilutes your own world of cycling, which is filled with dreams of titaneum road bikes, 9-speed rear shifters, and chrome-plated fixed gears.
Where am I going with this? Hard to say. But it's a place where two wheels rule and four are for those who don't know what it's like to be alive.
Just remember, if you find that place, thanks to the urging of the gas prices, there were some of us who were here first. But you are welcome. Please stick around.
Saturday, 10 September 2005
The other fixed gear - and accelerated madness
9-10-05: Been riding my Trek 1000 more lately but I took a break these past few days to also get some miles in on my other fixed gear, not the Fuji, but a Schwinn built up "track style", with drop bars and only a front brake, with a descretely mounted cyclecross brake lever.
The bike was a garbage find ten speed, and stripped down and fitted with 44x16 gearing. The lack of brake hoods to climb with makes it hard on the hills; I may eventually step it down to 42x16, but the ride is neat. Today I took the fixed gear madness a step further and swapped the cranks and wheel around so the drivetrain is on the left side of the bike.
It's bizarre, and wierd, and kinda neat, something done just for sh!ts and giggles, but it makes the bike more than just another fixed gear hack; it makes it unique.
BTW, it rides awesome for the zilch dollars it cost to build. Left side drive just accelerates [pun intended] the fixed gear madness.
Tuesday, 6 September 2005
The all around bike
Topic: TREK XO1
9-6-05: DON'T FORGET THE 'CROSS BIKE!
After a week of sticking to my road bikes it hit me; i hadn't broke out the Trek XO1 for a while. This is odd because in addition to being my most expensive bike it is also my all around bike.
While manufactured as a race-ready cyclecross bike, the XO1 handles road and street equally well, especially now that it's got a less racy, standard rear cassette and a 48t big ring up front, which makes it so much easier to climb hills, and ride where the blacktop ends. But, with 32c tires, it isn't prohibitively slow on the blacktop either. The stiff-climbing frame, coupled with a more 'cross friendly 48t front big ring, make hills vanish.
I pulled out the XO1, and, increduously, realized I was late for work. Not a prob; a low gear and I rode up the grassy hill past the corner store, shaving three blocks off my commute. Rather than being late I arrived early enough to have a cold soda before starting my shift.
Though I enjoy a roadbike, and a finely made roadbike is a wonderful thing, a 'cross bike is a special machine. If you don't own one, get one -- you will understand. If you have one, don't neglect it. In foul weather or short-cut commutes, they accel. They are sturdier, and somewhat racier in the frame angles, than road bikes, esp. as regards seat tube angle. Plus they enable you to continue your fun -- even where the blocktop ends.
Monday, 5 September 2005
Why we ride
9-5-05: Last week clocked out at 115 miles on my rebuilt Trek 1000. Mavic rims and downtube shifters make an interesting combination; a relatively modern frame with modern radial spoke wheels and old-school shifters. But the shifters give it just the right touch of "old school"; that they are set on friction rather than indexing to accomadate the newer rear wheel, which postdates the shifters by at least a decade, is even more "retro". But it isn't retro for the sake of retro, it is "retro" -- in pursuit of a better ride.
How is that? Maybe I'm just a "retro-grouch". Maybe I just like the old ways... the same sort of "functional nostalgia" that drove me to purchase my lovely silver Lemond road bike, with it's old-style steel frame... But there is a method to me madness, the steel rides good. Just as old shifters do, even if they are on an aluminum bike...
Why use old shifters? First, they were in the parts bin, and fit on the frame. Second, they worked -- when set to friction rather than indexing -- with the newer derailieurs and rear cassette. But beyond that, friction shifting makes for a special ride...
Friction shifters offer finite control, they teach you how to shift. Those who've ridden a friction-shift bike can tell you they have no more difficulty getting the bike "in gear", and no more instances of misaligned or misplaced chains, then a rider on a indexed shifting bike, either downtube or STI. This is because after a while you can actually feel if the bike is in gear, and know just how to move the lever to acheive the right alignment. Tis isn't some mystic skill learned from long forgotten Jedi... it is basic coordination, and it becomes intuitive after a short while. But many riders, who've never used friction shifting, are unaware of it.
Why do we ride? Is it the gear, the tech, the equipment? Do we ride so when we stop, we can look at our bikes, and say "mine costs more than yours?"
Riding isn't about the gear, the equipment, or the wallet. It's about the ride
, and what started out as a bike rebuilt with old parts out of necessity -- because that's what I had in the parts bin -- turned into a whole new experience, a reminder that any decent bike can be that special ride, even if it has a mongrel parts group or junk-find shifters.
Oddly enough the bike not only looks racier -- albeit older -- it rides better than it ever did with the original STI shifters. It no longer has that new bike look, though it has a better than new ride -- it has the look of a b ike that has been around gthe block, no pun intended. Maybe the improved ride is the new rims, or the fact that since the last time the Trek was built up with gears I've learned some finer points of bike adjustment, resulting in better ride position? Not sure... but it rides better, quicker, and is a lot more fun. Part of it is the old-school connection. I think a lot has to do with me building it up the way I want it, something I couldn't do when it was new as it came as a complete bike.
As to the shifters? Downtube shifters are sneered at by technology-obsessed racers as obsolete, and any bike shop mechanic or salesperson will point out the advantages of STI. But can a downtube-shifting bike compete? ...
So why do we ride?
Most likely the folks at the LBS [local bike shop] would laugh at my build-up, but the parts spec, though mongrel, delivers that special ride...
Old but new; retro, not to be different, but in pursuit of that feeling of connection to the ride. When I cip into the pedles and take off on my Trek 1000, old though it may be, and its parts older still, I feel that connection.
That feeling has to come from a connection between rider and ride, person and bike, cyclist and the road. Once you got it, you got it. It's why we all ride, whether we're heart-rate-counting tri junkies or leisurely "recreational riders".
Why do we ride? Chasing that special feeling, that elusive buzz that comes from tires moving over asphault, the click of that chain snapping into gear, the feel of weightlessness as you shoot through a turn leaning just the right way.
That buzz need not come from a $5,000 unobtanium bike. My Trek is proof.
Whatever you have, whatever sort of parts it's got, get it on the road this Labor Day. Ride your bike. I drool over carbon fiber Campy Record parts as much as the next guy when reading a catalogue. But then I put the glossy ad section of the bike mag or parts catalogue away, go out to my garage, see my Trek 1000, and smile. It may be neither "new" nor expensive, but it's just the way I want it, and helps me catch that elusive buzz that always seems to wait around the next bend of the road.
Sunday, 4 September 2005
Another 100 miles
9-4-05: Ride Report - Trek 1000: Over a hundred miles into the bike's reborn future and it rides better than new.
Better still, I have been riding it constantly for the past week, putting on a hundred miles int he last six days, just doing what I normally do. That's without and long rides, just riding around and going to work.
I even got my friend Patty on a bike, introducing her this weekend to clipless pedles for her B-day after taking her on a 20-mile ride around the area. Her mom, a large and in charge old-school Italian woman, was unimpressed. "What are you riding for? You gonna kill yerself!" Followed by some words in the old language which I was sure were an unjustified slur on my ancenstry. Reminds me once of a fat kid I overheard talking when I stopped my bike at a store for coffee a few weeks ago. "I want a expensive bike," said the one kid, eyeing my ride -- I think I rode the Lemind that day. The fat kid with him says "No way Joe, they look stupid".
As I ride out this morning, I'll thank my lucky stars that I can still do this -- that I can still ride. There are two kinds of people in the world; those who think bikes "look stupid" and can't see the point in riding, or those like Patty, who will enjoy riding and have fun doing it, given the chance.
As gas prices hit plus-$3 a gallon, there is a oppurtunity to try and turn some of the Joes into Pattys. Already, one fellow at my work has asked me to build him a road bike to ride to work.
For the bicycle, it's later than you think.
Friday, 2 September 2005
Back on the bike -- the week of the gas hike
Rode my Trek 1000 rebuild every day this week, about 20 miles a day, give or take a few.
The same week, I leanred that... supposedly due to the hurricane, then maybe not ... gas went up in price. The huge price hikes have spawned tales of shortages. $3 a gallon, going on four....
Mostly due to environmental restrictions [and we can debate the right or wrongness of those later, but the fact is they play a key role in this story] the country has too few refineries. Ergo, a bottleneck int he oil production process. The use of "cutom" fuels, with different formulations for different parts of the country required by the gov't, doesn't help. Let's face it, I don't like smog any more than the next guy but let's admit these rules contribute to the cost, right or wrong.
I for one would like to see agitating politicians stop bashing "greedy companies" or blaming natural disasters, and take some responsibility for the cost their laws and regs pass onto consumers.
That said, I have yet to buy the "new gas" [high priced crap]. I haven't gassed up my car in a month. I am reaosnably fit and can ride my bike. But I worry about seniors or those who are older or inform, who are dependant on their cars. Let's face it those who can watch their driving and save, will, but what about those who can't just walk to the store -- even if it's nearby? These price spikes hurt the very populations the gov't so often postures as protecting. Recall all those scaremongers saying any reform of social security would force seniors into the poorhouse, or the tales or people choosing between food and medicine costs? Add one more: choosing between food, medicine, or gas.
It will only get better if we start relying on ourselves, at myriad levels: Relying on our own steam, not the car [biking, duh!], Not relying on foriegn oil, not relying on environmentalist restrictions which mess up the fuel supply and stymie building of needed infrastructure, and not relying on the politicians assurances that "greedy oil companies" or "acts of god [i.e., hurricane damge]" are to blame.
The chickens of years of bad oil policy have come home to roost; our government hatched them with it's far-left restrictions. Sure, the guy who drives down the street to check his mail in a hummer contributes to the problem but niether large consumption nor a single natural disaster [like Katrina] should wipe out a healthy, functioning industry or process. The oil/fuel process in this country is not healthy, it has been atrophying for years and if not Katrina something else would have been the "straw that broke the driver's wallet".
Riding my bike actually kept me immume fromt he shock; it had been a week or two since I even put any gas in, and as stated, nearly a month since I put in any large amount of gas. Happily, I peddled along -- oblivious to what was cousing others to go into a frenzy.
When I did see a gas station sign, I nearly fell off my bike. $3 a gallon! When I got my driver's license nine years ago it was 80-something cents!
What can the gov't do to help with the "oil shortage"? Right now, it can get out of the way, stop strangling the energy industry in this country, and go back to it's just and proper functions. Let's face it, these prices are neither the result of Katrina, nor price gouging by uncrupulous executives, though some of these things undoubtedly had an effect. These prices are the result of thirty years of determinedly not only standing still, but moving backwards.
In the meantime, I will ride my bike whenever I can. Because it's fun. But also knowing I'm not burning my money inside the engine of a car. Maybe later I'll round up some others who feel that the prices are beyond the pale, and we'll march on the capitol with pitchforks to demand some sort of reform. But for now I ride. And smile.
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