General Question

jessehattabaugh's avatar

Why don't you ride a bicycle instead of driving a car?

Asked by jessehattabaugh (492 points ) November 19th, 2008

I’m just curious if anyone can really justify such a thing.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

146 Answers

melly6708's avatar

cars are faster.. and less work

tonedef's avatar

I work too far from home, I have to respond to emergencies in the middle of the night, and I live in an unsafe neighborhood.

jessehattabaugh's avatar

@melly6708 rocketships are even faster, why not take one of those?

nikipedia's avatar

I walk walkable distances and drive unwalkable distances. Exceptions include grocery shopping or traveling through unsafe areas at night.

Is this a real question or are you just looking for an argument?

jessehattabaugh's avatar

@tonedef sounds like you need to move

flameboi's avatar

No way, my car is like an extension of my life and dreams to me, I wouldn’t ride a bike, a car is not 4 wheels and an engine that takes you to places, a car is more like, mmm, think of it as the materialization of a long distance love, that takes you to the unexplored, the unexpected, the inexperienced, feel the adrenaline rush you have whenever you put your hands on the wheel :) and you feel the emblem, whoa, I love that feeling… (i know I know,. I’m a bad person)

poofandmook's avatar

@jesse: sounds to me like your plan here is to scold drivers. Not really cool at all.

melly6708's avatar

rocketships go up.. cars take you places you wanna go

Judi's avatar

I ride my bike a lot for fun when I’m in Southern California, but I live on the top of a big hill down there so I couldn’t make it home if I took it to the grocery store. I usually put it on top of the VW and take it to the beach. here in Bakersfield it’s either to hot or to cold. There are about 2 outside months a year here.

jessehattabaugh's avatar

@flameboi I feel the same way about my automatic assult weapon. Her name is Daisy

Snoopy's avatar

LOL. Are you serious?

You must live and have always lived in or near a large city. I am also guessing you don’t have kids.

25 degree weather, two toddlers and miles from anything = car.

Don’t be so judgemental.

jessehattabaugh's avatar

@poofandmook is that against the TOS?

poofandmook's avatar

@jesse: No. But it’s sort of being a jerk.

rossi_bear's avatar

i can’t due to health problems. and the fact that a bike don’t go in the snow that well.

jessehattabaugh's avatar

@Snoopy I’m from Arkansas, but I moved to a big city that’s true. As for the kids, I see people taking them to school all the time on their bikes.

figbash's avatar

I’d seriously considered it, but it’s really not safe to bike around Seattle, and I’m speaking as a driver and a rider. I love biking, it’s economical and I want to support alternative modes of commuting, but the fact is you just can’t see bikers. Aside from the visibility issues, biking in traffic also ticks people off – they don’t like to have to drive slowly behind you, and they get irritated and aggressive.

EmpressPixie's avatar

Because I take the bus.

Snoopy's avatar

well…that explains it doesn’t it? You live in a big city. Everything is geographically closer.

When I lived in Chicago. I didn’t own a car. There was no need.

Where I live now, it simply isn’t possible to live w/out one…

mea05key's avatar

People prefer to drive because:
1. It might be safer/ Rainny and windy days and during night time it would be dangerous to ride a bicycle
2. Status. Imagine a director from a big company riding a bicycle to the work. Does not sound right does it? Usually thats the case.
3. Far distance and probably you will need to carry many stuffs
4. Takes a lot of effort. Imagine if you are to cycle up the hill with 30 degrees horizontal angle?
5. Pollution. I mean you inhale smokes from cars, lorries, etc
6. You covered in a car thus avoiding the possibility of birds dropping their waste on you.

jessehattabaugh's avatar

@Snoopy so you made the choice to live where you live knowing full well it would require you to use a dangerous, polluting, expensive machine. Why would you make a choice like that?

Raggedy_Ann's avatar

Where I live it’s too cold from October to April. Plus with the amount of snow we normally get it’s just not feasible. Plus I live over 6 miles away.

jessehattabaugh's avatar

@poofandmook I’m just having a bit of fun, chill out.

poofandmook's avatar

I’m not the one who needs to chill out. If you get your kicks riding other people’s backs and shoving your morals down their throats, that makes you a jerk, not a fun-loving guy. I’m perfectly calm. I’m just pointing out facts.

Snoopy's avatar

So I don’t have to live near people like you…? LOL

Oops. Gotta go. Have to go pick up my two preschoolers in my FORD EXPLORER. No buses. Too far for the little lambs to walk and tricycles aren’t allowed on the major roads.

have fun making new friends! :)

funkdaddy's avatar

You could probably still have fun, and prove your point, without the argumentative tone…

Smashing mailboxes can be fun, but not a good way to meet the neighbors…

I’m just saying

flameboi's avatar

@Jesse
My first car was little salvatore, my actual car is little bandit, named after his owner (lol) it’s manual so I find it more enjoyable :)

jessehattabaugh's avatar

I’m not here to make friends. I’m here to “tap the collective”. The collective seems to have a love affair with lethal machinery. I’m just trying to understand why. So far it seems that the best reasons involve not living close enough to places you need to be, and an aversion to weather and physical exertion. Is that really all?

tonedef's avatar

And having a job where you need to transport rape victims on a regular basis.

dynamicduo's avatar

I don’t see what’s fun about purposefully antagonizing people who don’t think the same as you.

jessehattabaugh's avatar

@funkdaddy smashing mailboxes is fun, I haven’t done that since I had a car…

jessehattabaugh's avatar

@dynamicduo what can I say, I’m bored

dynamicduo's avatar

I think that’s about all you could say. And that says a lot about you.

To answer the question, winters in Canada make biking a very dangerous endeavour. While it can be done safely, you’re still at the mercy of other drivers in cars skidding on ice. You think a normal car-bike accident is bad, try one where the car’s skidding out of control towards you. I would like to incorporate more biking into my life during the warm summer months, and plan on doing so once I have the funds to purchase a bike to my liking. Until then, I use my car as little as I can, and telecommuting to work helps with that.

Perchik's avatar

@jesse.

I’m an environmentalist, but you’re just being a jerk.

Not everyone chooses where to live solely based on whether or not they can drive. Not everyone can physically ride a bike. Not everyone is healthy enough to ride a bike. Some of us are are a little afraid of cars because other people don’t drive properly. Some of us live in cities that are not really near other places.

The fact is, over time, the automobile has moved people further away from the cities, where biking becomes a hard option.

Instead of going after people who drive, why don’t you go after coal powered power plants.. they pretty much negate all of your biking in about a minute of operation.

Have a good day.

forestGeek's avatar

I commute to work by bike most of the time, but I am also very guilty of driving when I probably could have or should have biked. For me, when I do that it’s strictly and pathetically convenience. I agree with figbash, Seattle is not a very bike friendly city, especially after work in the winter. It’s also very difficult to go grocery shopping by bike…not impossible, just difficult.

My guess is that we’re all lazy at times, and do many things out of convenience.

@jessehattabaugh – I have been a bike commuter for 5 years, and I know how difficult it can be. (I’ve even been hit) I have to say that many drivers already hate cyclists, and your definitely not helping our cause!

aidje's avatar

I have a bike, but I don’t use it much because I have friends.

Okay, for real now. I mostly drive 15 miles, 30 miles, 60 miles, or 250 miles. The shortest of those distances, I’m transporting musical equipment. Also, I live in an area that gets very cold in the winter, which also means snow and ice.

When I was living a mile away from my summer internship this summer, I biked. I would also bike a little bit around town, to the extent that it was possible. That was practical. In my current situation, biking is practical only for random trips across campus, in which case I walk nine times out of ten.

blondie411's avatar

I have a bike, that try and ride during the summer months to work and around town but it gets difficult as the road to work has no sidewalk and is uphill. I don’t like to be stinky while at work but I will bike around on the weekends for errands. The winter is just too cold. The car and mass transit is just for more convience simple as that.

jessehattabaugh's avatar

@forestGeek I’ll keep an eye out for Fluther bumper stickers. I think I’ve well established that they are uptight and likely prone to road rage.

dynamicduo's avatar

Alright then, I’ll be sure avoid anyone named Jesse who rides a bike and does web design. I think I’ve well established that they are pompous and likely prone to being pointless jerks.

Judi's avatar

Anyone with a bumnper sticker is more prone to road rage. read this article.

EmpressPixie's avatar

This question could have been asked in a much nicer way. In fact, I might do so to prove it.

El_Cadejo's avatar

If i didnt work 30 minutes from my house and date a girl 45 minutes from my house maybe i would ride a bike, but as it stands now, my car is much more convenient.

tinyfaery's avatar

Ever been to Los Angeles? That is my answer.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

I ride my bike most places I go because I have that luxury right now, for the first time in my life.

On the other hand, I drive a lot of places I could probably bike, but whether I would make it to my destination alive is questionable.

Have you ever been hit by a car? I have, it’s not fun.

Les's avatar

I’ll give you my honest response. It has multiple facets (like a diamond. But not as pretty.) First of all, I like to drive. I know it is damaging to the environment, but I really do like driving. I try to make up for my car’s carbon footprint by doing as much good elsewhere (recycling, using reusable grocery bags, turning the lights off, etc.) as I can. Second, I mainly walk to work. It is less than two miles, and I enjoy the exercise. Third, I find it incredibly difficult to keep a bike from sliding all over the place on the non-plowed roads of Laramie (it is really hard to walk, too, but I find that boot stabilizers are useful for that). Fourth, at 7200 feet, the air here in Laramie is quite thin, and I really don’t enjoy being all out of breath (and no, I’m not that out of shape. I have asthma. It takes forever for me to adjust to doing much strenuous activity here.)
Overall, I think it is odd that you assumed that most of us Jellies are gas guzzling, non environmentally conscious people. I have found that the majority of Fluther users to be the exact opposite.

jessehattabaugh's avatar

@dynamicduo I appreciate it!

@uberbatman I’m pretty satisfied with the outcome myself. There have been valid reasons, and there are lots of people admitting their not-so-valid reasons. I’m learning.

jessehattabaugh's avatar

@Les It was the 4 replies in which the word “jerk” was used that brought me to that conclusion. Though my conclusion isn’t that they aren’t environmentally conscious, just that they are anal-retentive, and over-aggressive pricks who take themselves too seriously.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Jesse, wow, thanks for your honesty.

Now that I know you think we’re “anal-retentive, and over-aggressive pricks who take themselves too seriously” I’ll know not to answer any more of your questions.

I wish I could take my answer to this question back.

jessehattabaugh's avatar

@La_chica_gomela case in point

dalepetrie's avatar

At the risk of being taken to task:

1) I live 16 miles from where I work. I live in a big city that is enormously spread out. There is no practical way to ride a bike from home to work and back because of the traffic and the way the freeways are constructed. A person would get killed.

2) I’m not very physically fit (read: fat). Which means:
a) It would take me way too long to get where I was going
b) I would be sweaty and feel and smell nasty all the time
c) 2 minutes on a bike makes my ass hurt
d) 5 minutes on a bike makes my spine hurt
e) Overly exerting myself makes me essentially useless

3) It is currently less than 30 degrees outside. From mid-October until about mid-March/early-April, the climate where I live is not hospitable to being outside for extended periods. In fact, it has been known to get to 40 below zero with 100 below windchills some winters, not to mention the snow and ice which make everything but highways impassable in the winter.

4) I’m not very coordinated, if someone was going to get killed on a bike, it would likely be me.

5) When I’m not commuting to and from work, or at work, I’m with my family, and though a bike trailer is a nice option, we live in a part of the city which is a few miles from any real shopping, dining or entertainment (with a few small exceptions).

Personally, I think people should bike or walk or carpool or take mass transit if it works for them, but I can’t be judgemental of people who can’t. Is there a convenience factor? Yes, I admit it. I admit that I cherish my free time, I want to enjoy the part of my life I don’t have to spend making a living, and therefore, I’m not about to adopt a system of transport that eats significantly into my free time. Even riding the bus for me would about quadruple my commute, and quite frankly, at times that might not work for me. I have a son in after school care, we have it set so either my wife or I can pick him up every day, but if no one can get there until after 6, we’re charged through the teeth. Mass transit or biking would make it necessary for us to find some other arrangement and put our son in the care of someone we perhaps do not trust as much on certain days.

When I go on vacation, I use mass transit. But I live in city which for all the great things about it, has not yet gotten with the program. For 3 decades they debated getting a light rail system. We finally have one…it serves about 5% of the metro area, and not the areas that would do any good to me.

My intention is also to buy increasingly more fuel efficient vehicles every time I purchase a new vehicle. Personally what I feel it boils down to is that we live in a nation that is incredibly spread out, and the distances which people must traverse as part of a normal life make it unfeasible for most people to get around by foot or bicycle. For some, that works, and great, more power to them, I salute them, even if they want to be judgemental about the decisions I make. But I make the decision for what works and what fits in my life and I won’t apologize for it. I’ll point out that I do several things to look out for the environment, but I won’t list them all, I’m not defensive about it and I’m secure in my knowledge that I’m concerned, I’m engaged in trying to find a solution to the problem, I’m doing what I can, and yes, I admit I could be doing more, but I make trade offs, and for me, driving is one of those trade offs.

figbash's avatar

Damn, Dalepetrie. You got it goin’ ON.

@Jesse: I can’t figure out what your agenda is here. Are you genuinely curious about whether or not people have considered riding bikes? You’re clearly anti-car, but trains, buses and other forms of mass transpo are also “lethal killing machines” so, are you anti-mass transportation too?

nikipedia's avatar

And can I please point out that comfort and convenience are not inherently evil. What’s the point in protecting the environment if we all live miserable lives doing it? It’s an optimization problem.

jessehattabaugh's avatar

Oh wait… I didn’t know we all lived miserable lives without the comfort and convenience of automobiles. See I was under the impression that we were miserable because our climate is changing, we’re at war over the worlds largest supply of oil, and we’re all dying of heart disease because of lack of exercise. But of course! Convenience is what we need. More comfort, more luxury. That will cure what ails us.

Mtl_zack's avatar

i dont know how to ride a bike. i have horrible coordination and balance.

steelmarket's avatar

I work at home, vehicle stays in the garage all week. I take it out a few hours on the weekend, maybe total of 30 miles/week, let’s call it one gallon of gas a week.

@jesse, do you drive to work or school?

nikipedia's avatar

Furthermore, cars are not inherently evil. Coal and gasoline power are the real problem. Why don’t you quit your job and invent an alternative energy source? Oh, because it would be inconvenient?

In the meantime, stop berating people for having different lifestyles from your own.

dynamicduo's avatar

Well, it sure would be much more miserable to bike around if the road infrastructure wasn’t there to greatly simplify things – inconsistencies of nature (holes, swamps, forests) and debris. Also, no roads means you may need to use a compass and map while biking, which increases the difficulty level.

jessehattabaugh's avatar

@nikipedia “In 2003, the average household produced 12.4 tons of carbon dioxide from its household operations and approximately 11.7 tons from its automotive uses.” http://www.thehcf.org/emaila5.html

Regular household operations accounts for more than half of our emmisions, it’s true, but automotive use accounts for the other half all by itself. I doubt quitting my job and working on alternative fuels would do as much for my carbon footprint as simply selling my car.

jessehattabaugh's avatar

@dynamicduo “Dear cars, thanks for the roads, now get off them!”

azul's avatar

@jessehattabaugh, do you actually care about the environment and pursuing social change to save it? Because no one is going to listen to you if you approach this issue in such a militant way. Most people do want to do more to reduce their carbon footprint, etc., so it would be a lot more constructive if you shared your opinions and information with us in a more respectful manner.

dynamicduo's avatar

I’m not sure what that accomplishes, cars don’t have ears.

Nimis's avatar

• I’m usually hauling crap around. If not large pieces of lumber, then a desk or chair I found on the side of the road, at a thrift store or an estate sale.
• I walk to the store for small grocery trips. But when I have to do a huge grocery run, it makes a lot more sense to use a car. Ideally, I should just do small trips. But you know how you lose track of chores and end up doing six loads of laundry instead of the civil one or two loads? Yeah, like that.
• I really enjoy driving. It’s the only time I get to listen to music at the volume that I prefer.
• I work in a really dangerous neighborhood. Biking wouldn’t be the safest option. And a trunk on a car comes in handy for keeping things out of plain view.
• I’m really accident prone. The last time I was on a bike, an asshole taxi driver swung his door really wide and totally swiped me.
• The number of bicyclists hit by motorists is not the best incentive. In a car, I can control who I do or do not hit. As a bicyclist, I can’t really control who hits me.
• I have really bad insomnia (not from the guilt of driving a car) and would have even less sleep if I had to account for the time it would take for me to bike to work.
• Past certain distances, it just doesn’t make a lot of sense.

forestGeek's avatar

Non-cyclists, please don’t think all of us cyclists are like jessehattabaugh!!!

jessturtle23's avatar

It’s nice to be an idealist with lots of opinions and no solutions. We can’t all ride bikes everywhere and it’s a waste of time to even think that could be an answer. Fucking scenester.

jessehattabaugh's avatar

@forestGeek There is evidence to the contrary. Ever been to Critical Mass?

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forestGeek's avatar

Never been to a Critical Mass gathering, but know all about them and have friends that go. I think it’s counter productive. If you really are an activist for bike lanes, cyclist rights, etc. become a city council member and make change from within the system. Critical Mass just pisses people off, which I know is the point, but they are not the ones who have gotten us new bike lanes here in Seattle in the past few years. Nope, it’s the local advocacy groups, cycling council members and shit-tons of emails and letter asking for them.

I’m willing to bet that you despise Born-Again Christians who push their religion on you, or vegetarians who say that you are a murderer if you eat meat, but that kind of thing is what your doing here.

Perchik's avatar

Jesse,

Do you eat meat?
Where does your power come from?
Is your home energy efficient?
Do you recycle your toilet water?
Do you water your lawn?
What kind of grease and solvents do you use on your bike?
When’s the last time you showered? How long was it?
Do you recycle?
Do you ever throw anything away?

syz's avatar

Because the only direct route to my work is an 8 lane highway.

jessehattabaugh's avatar

what I’m doing here is asking people to justify their use of cars and holding them to the task. That’s all. If you are having trouble justifying your car use that’s understandable, but don’t get pissed at me for asking.

syz's avatar

Um, seems a bit “holier than thou” to ask others to justify themselves. Perhaps a more appropriate approach would be “Would you use a bike to commute if you could? What prevents you from doing so?”

augustlan's avatar

I have 3 children, live in West Virginia and travel to Maryland several times a week, have fibromyalga and asthma. Riding a bike is not an option.

forestGeek's avatar

But when people here have answered and justified it, you’ve commented with judgments of their personal justification, based on your ideas of what’s right or wrong. Narrow!!

jessehattabaugh's avatar

@forestGeek is argument against the TOS?

aidje's avatar

@jesse
“Trolling (or thinly masked propaganda)”
“Hateful, abusive, or bigoted”

forestGeek's avatar

@jessehattabaugh – Nope! It’s just as a fellow cyclist, I would love to be seeing you understand why someone cannot ride, then creatively help them see how they possibly could ride more, instead of bashing and/or judging their answers.

dalepetrie's avatar

Any viewpoint can be justified, just as any counterpoint can be justified. I could just as easily ask, “Why don’t you drive a car instead of riding a bicycle? I’m just curious if anyone can justify such a thing?”

Now the question that you might immediately ask me is what do I base my question on? One thing that I have YET to see justified is the question itself…there seems to be a presumption by the asker that the bicycle is the unquestionable “best” choice, but he gives no justifcation for that point of view, just assumes that he is correct and the rest of us need to justify ourselves.

But if we turn the table, we can do the same thing and ask the question in reverse, and we too can simply assume that our point of view is the logical one. In other words, in the way this question was asked, it created a very lopsided discussion in which the presumption within the question was never challenged. And therefore, I hereby challenge it.

In other words, jessehattabaugh, tell us why YOU feel bikes are the only self-justified mode of transportation (or if that is not your position, please clarify what you position is, as it is reasonable to conclude from your question that this is the position you are taking).

Many of us have justified our decisions, and unfortunately, what you have done in many cases is reduced it to a strawman argument by overemphasizing the evils and completely rejecting the circumstances. Well, I can do the same thing.

The automobile industry employs 2.5 million people in the United States alone, that is over 1% of the entire workforce. This does not even count the millions of others who are employed by industries and companies (such as steelmakers, iron miners, etc.) who rely on the auto industry for employment. If we were to simply outlaw cars and force everyone to ride bikes, which seems to be the ideal you’ve laid forth, tens of millions of people would lose their jobs and would have no way to support themselves. Is that really a better solution?

How about this? We live in a society where motorized vehicles are a necessity. If you never have the need to travel further than your bicycle can take you, fair enough, but you are a rarity in this country. This society we were all brought into makes the vehicle a necessity. So perhaps our efforts are better spent in trying to build a better battery. That way we could better harness wind, solar, geothermal, wave and other completely renewable and non polluting sources of energy and eliminate the need for petroleum as a means of transportation or energy.

And finally, I’d like to inquire as to whether or not the bicycle you ride has in its makeup any plastic? I’m willing to bet my left nut that it does. And that means that to produce part of your bike, required petroleum. What about that helmet that you wear? Or your bike shorts? All have petroleum in some part of their makeup. I somehow doubt even the most ardent anti-car bicyclist could not live a life devoid of oil consumption.

Just sayin’.

jlm11f's avatar

[mod says:] Flame off from both sides please. Everyone has a right to their opinion and as a community, we can all respect it even if we don’t agree with it. Thank you.

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jlm11f's avatar

removed by myself

jholler's avatar

How many miles were the parts of your bicycle carried by diesel trucks or trains before they arrived at your bike shop fully assembled? How can you justify perpetuating the oil machine by using anything that was hauled on a truck? You should walk everywhere naked and live in a cave.

jholler's avatar

oops…just read the mod post. I drive a tracker cause it’s 4×4 and the top comes off so I can shoot frogs with my bow, and I drive a chevy truck cause it pulls my tractor. So there.

poofandmook's avatar

jesse=JA? It smacks…

dalepetrie's avatar

Thanks PnL. I agree, everyone is entitled to an opinion. I have no problem with the question being asked. I don’t even object to someone stating disagreement with someone else’s opinion. What strikes me is the presumption by the asker is there is only one way to think about the issue. When you get right down to us, no one is taking the position that dependence on oil is a good thing…the only people who believe that are people who believe a) we will never run out of oil, and b) global warming is not manmade. But I think the problem comes down when someone says “why aren’t you doing more?” If we say “we’re doing what we can,” and the response is “but you COULD do more,” then I have to throw it back…so could YOU. Sure, we could ride bikes, but someone who rides a bike could walk everywhere. The answer to that might be “well that just isn’t feasible for me.” But we say the same things about our cars. Best not to be judgemental.

poofandmook's avatar

is your computer solar powered? O_o

stevenb's avatar

I drive a truck because I have to haul a three thousand pound trailer full of tools back and forth to jobs, as well as carrying materials. I can’t leave the trailer on site because of theives. I haven’t found any way to haul a three thousand pound trailer with my bike. If I could do it, I would, but I am good at what I do, and people request me to do the work for them. I could be better for the environment and quit my job, lose my house, and live in a recycled cardbaord box, but I don’t see that as a smart alternative.

jca's avatar

reading all these replies have been interesting, especially this person jesse. it was interesting that jesse wrote “don’t get pissed at me for asking.” how innocently he writes that sentence, after just being totally antagonistic in his first handful of replies. “don’t get pissed at little innocent me for asking a simple question.” but the tone of all that jesse writes is snotty and rude. i live in an area where bike riders almost cause accidents because there are narrow roads, hills, curves and for cars to avoid the bikes they have to go over the double yellow line. i live about a 1 hour car ride from work, including dropping the baby off at babysitters. it would be probably a four hour ride by bike, plus i would not risk my life or the baby’s life by trying to bike it. PLUS it’s freezing cold about 5 months out of the year. it’s not practical or logical, and you can have your opinions about me all you want, my health and safety and the baby’s health and safety trump your attitude and opinion.

jca's avatar

p.s. by the way, Jesse, you’ll find Fluther is definitely a community, and while there are times people get annoyed at each other, it’s best to try to be a little respectful and nice, or you may find yourself on the outside looking in. also might be helpful in life – try to be courteous and respect others’ opinions – you’ll find it gets you farther…...

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Jesse smells bad. I’m trying to think of what he smells like exactly. Gosh, what is it? Oh, i know i know!! He smells like a troll!!!

Trustinglife's avatar

Just read through this whole question (which took awhile!). My answer:

*I love driving.
*I value my independence.
*I find there are times when my friends who don’t drive, need a ride.
*I live outside SF, and where I live, it’s ridiculous to not own a car. There’s almost nothing I’m interested in within biking distance.

This could have been – and could still be – a very interesting question, without the antagonizing. To me, it is heartening to know how many Flutherers would love to do more to have less impact. And my compassion increases, knowing the various circumstances that we have to deal with.

If/when gas prices go back up, I really wonder what will happen to all of us who live in areas where it’s inconvenient to bike.

I trust our future Fluther conversations about this very important topic will be more civil.

wundayatta's avatar

Oh please, people. Jesse was asking a legitimate question, that merely turned most of your normative thoughts about travel on their heads. Then you proceeded to beat and beat on him, until he started getting angry.

I ride my bike more than most people. I ride it to work (12 miles, roundtrip)whenever it’s not raining or snowing or I have to pick up the kids at a special time. I’d say I commute to work by bike about half the time.

Last year was the first year I let myself stop biking because of the cold (I’m 52). This year, I’m trying to keep on going. It’s kind of cool to have people look at you with disbelief when you arrive on bike and it’s 20 degrees outside. I don’t ride much colder than that, but there’s no reason why I shouldn’t if I dress properly.

I use a car to schlepp stuff, to pick up the kids from school, and to go on trips. However, we tried to get as fuel-efficient a vehicle as we could and still meet our other needs. Our current car does better in the city on gas mileage compared to the old Corolla, but it does a lot worse on the highway.

I think all the reasons that people use not to ride a bike are interesting and they represent problems that can be dealt with through public policy, education, and encouragement. I live in a city that has a lot of bike lanes, and is pretty bike friendly. Bike lanes, to my surprise, seem to work. Certainly I don’t get nearly as much “get off the fucking road, you moron” as I used to.

I understand about the distances involved in getting places in the country. I grew up in a very rural area. However, that’s where I learned to ride. I rode to school (five miles maybe) whenever I could. In those days, I thought nothing of a fifty or sixty mile ride, and had even taken some 100 mile rides. I tried a fifty miler last year, and totally bonked at 35 miles

If I didn’t bike, I wouldn’t get any exercise. I can’t stand stationary machines anyway. To some degree, the fossil fuel savings plays no role in my decision to ride. It’s a nice side benefit, but it’s not why I do it.

Biking is a lot of fun, and it makes me feel good. I think it would do the same for others. It’s like a special club of pioneers. I hope in the future, we won’t be so special. I hope that eventually we can reduce our reliance on cars, and this will free us to redesign cities to be much more human friendly, instead of car friendly.

I’m really sorry this turned into a mean-spirited discussion. I hope people don’t find me sanctimonious. I do believe in bicycling, but I’m not going to ram it down anyone’s throat. I do think, however, that people have been reacting a bit more defensively than is warranted by Jesse’s tone. I hope we can settle down to a more amiable discussion.

EmpressPixie's avatar

The question was only somewhat legitimate, it has two large problems. One problem is in its function as a question, the other is outside of its actual question-ness. It’s main problem was assuming that there are only two options: riding a bike and driving a car. There are many options including those two but also including taking public transit, the train, and walking. I, myself, take the bus. An option not allowed for.

The second big problem was Jesse’s attitude in his writing. From the beginning, the discussion slot of the question shows a bad attitude towards drivers for any reason. Then his first few responses are inflammatory as well. It was perfectly possible to ask this question in a way that wouldn’t offend people (as I showed), but Jesse chose not to. People were reacting to his attitude, not the question.

jca's avatar

Daloon: you wrote really well, and respectfully, and put a lot of thought into what you said. one thing i disagree with you on, however, is where you said Jesse asked a legitimate question (which he did) until people proceeded to beat on him until he got angry. if you re-read the whole thing, it appears that Jesse started with the sarcasm, “melly, rocketships are even faster” and “tonedef, sounds like you need to move.” tonedef gave a legit answer and jesse was the one who i think was wrong there. then jesse starts with the comments about cars being big expensive polluting machines and lethal and it just deteriorated from there. he said “the best reasons seem to be people not living close enough to where they need to be and the weather and physical exertion, is that really all?” it’s like, well, yeah, that should be enough. add to that the safety issue for many, and he can’t just discount these reasons like he does. maybe he’s young, maybe he lives in a bikeable town, but many people now live in rural areas where housing is affordable, and have to commute one hour, one and a half hours to work, which is not practical on a bike (you did talk about good alternatives, but Jesse didn’t go that direction, he just came off rudely and disrespectfully).

dalepetrie's avatar

jca’s answer is fabulous, but also leaves out where Jesse made the snarky comment about loving his automatic assault weapon, then later when he derided Snoopy for choosing where to live as if transportation should have been the sole dictator of the choice of where one makes their lives (and then goes as far as to ask “why would you make a choice like that?”). Then he attacks the fluther community by saying he’ll look out for the Fluther bumper stickers as people here are prone to road rage. C’mon daloon, really? He was just challenging our ways of thinking? Read the thread again.

cooksalot's avatar

Lemme see. The bike didn’t fit in the truck and the kids bikes were already on the top of my van. So the adults bikes got left behind. Just never got around to looking for a new one here. The options are not as big here as they were in Oregon. Plus no real bike paths here.

cooksalot's avatar

Oh and it’s hard to lug around 2 boys and their hockey equipment around on.

Trustinglife's avatar

This whole thread raises the question for me: Would it be better if we all lived in a city, or some place where we could all bike to get around? (Or take the bus.)

aidje's avatar

I, for one, am glad that cities are not the only mode of settlement.

cooksalot's avatar

Haha! I live in the “city” or what passes for one here in the ‘tater fields.

wundayatta's avatar

@dale: I think I read about 20 of the then 91 messages before I wrote that comment. It was my impression at that time that things had escalated gradually. I admit, he was snarky, but I thought that there weren’t enough cool heads to keep things from going out of control.

I do understand getting passionate about lifestyles that limit the use of cars. It bothers me when people say they live in rural areas or suburbs, and you can’t survive without a car there, as if it wasn’t a choice to live in those places. I get the impression that a lot of people feel like they have no choice about where they live. Then they use that as a way to say they have no choice but to depend on cars for everything.

That bothers me and I can see how Jesse might get bent out of shape about that. Expecially if he has trouble articulating his reasoning, or if he’s young and not yet well-schooled in the art of respectful disagreement.

aidje's avatar

@daloon
Are you suggesting that modes of transportation should be the primary factor in one’s decision of where to live?

wundayatta's avatar

@aidje, I guess, when I think of it that way, that perhaps I am. Transportation is implicit in our choices of places to live. Most people, I believe, look at how far they are from work, and how far they are from schools, and how far they are from other places of importance to them.

Then they ask, “how am I going to get there?” Maybe they even ask how much time it’s going to take them to get somewhere.

Maybe I’m mistaken in this. Maybe I’m too much under the influence of having lived in NYC and Philly, and access to public transportation is a key consideration.

Now, maybe things are different in the suburbs (I’ve never lived in one). I’m pretty sure its a concern in rural areas (I grew up in a rural area, and having to bicycle everywhere made me realize how importan distance is.)

I’m reluctant to make normative comments, because that’s no way to make friends or influence people. But I do invite all of you to consider these transportation and related issues fully in your decisions about where to live. Choosing a place convenient to the places you go, and minimizing the amount of time you need to use the car is probably one of the best ways to reduce your use of carbob-based fuels, and therefore contribute to a reduction in the amount of carbon that is introduced to our atmostphere every day.

cooksalot's avatar

Well we didn’t have much choice this time. It was move or lose your job, and good luck at finding one with half the pay and all the benefits. So it was move. If not we would still be in Vancouver/Portland.

poofandmook's avatar

@daloon: Another big issue is that living in the city is too expensive. Public transporatation comes at a great cost. You go where the job is, but unfortuantely, if the job’s surrounding areas are too expensive, then you need to live in a suburb and more than likely, drive to work.

augustlan's avatar

I live in a city…Martinsburg, West Virginia. The only places I regularly go here are the grocery store and the home improvement center. You really can’t haul a week’s worth of groceries or sheets of drywall home on a bike. There is no possible way for me to live in ‘the city’ (the one I regularly travel to and from)...I simply cannot afford it!

cooksalot's avatar

Yes, @poof when we lived in Vancouver we lived too far from hubbies work for him to ride a bike. If not he would have been on that bike ever day in the summer. As it was the drive was a 2 hour drive and we couldn’t afford the rent or house payments for anything closer.

aidje's avatar

@daloon
It’s certainly a concern, but I would argue that it is by no means the only, nor even the primary issue. There’s also employment, housing, cost of living, connections with people, weather, schools, commercial environment, and I’m sure plenty of other things. I’m not saying that it is not something that should be considered, but I don’t think that it is reasonable to assume that everyone can or should mold their entire life around having access to public transportation or… bicyclibility.

jca's avatar

my problem with this whole thing was that this guy Jesse was totally inappropriate with his assumptions and his attitude right from the get-go. it’s good that it has resolved itself into a civil discussion about the issue. maybe a lesson, too, to Jesse, that it doesn’t have to be rude and it shouldn’t be rude, it can just be a good fair discussion among intelligent adults.

cooksalot's avatar

Oh, when my husbands office got closed here. Yeah after they made us move 2 states to keep his job. (big raspberries to that) He tried to get a bus to go from this city to the one he has to commute to now. That went down the flusher so now he at least has a carpool system going. That was a life saver when the price of gas was high. I worry though what would happen if the carpool pool dies out. All those cars the traffic, and most of all the cost of gas!!!

wundayatta's avatar

@poof: I don’t know how you are calculating this. Evey single analysis that I’ve ever seen shows public transportation to be far cheaper than using a car. Are you inluding the capital cost of the car, and the insurance and all? I think Consumer Reports does an analysis of this every year, and comes up with cars costing around 10K per year to operate, compared to 2K per year for public transit and cabs, and rentals when you go on a trip.

I agree that if you move to suburbs, you have to drive a car. That’s one of the reasons I think suburbs are a huge problem. Few suburbs are served by public transportation. Anyway, those are some reasons why I wouldn’t live in a suburb, unless someone put a gun to my head.

@augustlan: in my city, the senior citizens and others solve that problem by purchasing a shopping cart.

@aidje: obviously every family will have a different set of criteria for deciding where to live. Transportation is important on my list. I’m just hoping that it can become more important on other people’s lists. I was happy when gas prices went up, because people started to become much more aware of the cost of operating a car. It was a silly awareness, since gas prices only doubled, so for most people that might have meant an additional fifty dollars per week. (For us, only $100 per month). That’s not enough money to get people to seriously re-evaluate their choices.

Love your word “bicyclibility!” Lurve.

tinyfaery's avatar

I work in a city where the median home prices are in the $600K range, and rents on a 2 bedroom are about $1500; I can afford neither. I’m moving in December to a 3 bedroom house that is about 10–15 miles from my work. I’m getting a great deal because my wife has been friends with the landlord’s son since high school. So what are my options? Go into bankruptcy to
live near my place of employment, or get a new job that a closer to my house but does not pay as much money, therefore putting me back in the same situation.

Plus, L.A. is my home town; most of my family and friends are located here. I lived in Sacramento for a bit, and missed L.A. so much. I’ll never leave again, probably.

Nimis's avatar

Daloon (in regards to your reply to Augustlan): The ice cream! What about the ice cream?

wundayatta's avatar

@Nimis: maybe people don’t buy it on hot summer days?

dalepetrie's avatar

In regards to choosing where you live based on transportation, perhaps in the future it will become a consideration for more and more people, and that’s OK. But I purchased my home in 1997, at the time it was very close to where I work, and gas was under a buck a gallon and global warming was not really a marquis issue.

Furthermore, I grew up in northern Minnesota, as an accountant, I would have had no career opportunities where I grew up (nor was I interested in a rural life) so I had to move to a larger metropolitan area (and wanted to as well). Minneapolis/St. Paul was an area where I could stay connected to my family. I met my wife here, she had lived in the Twin Cities her whole life, and her family is also here. The friends and connections we’ve made are here.

As I stated, I lived close to where I work, perhaps close enough to bike, but I am not at that job…I have had many jobs since then, some changes I made on my own, some were forced upon me. My wife too has had many changes. It did not seem like an unreasonable idea to remain located where we were at the time, and it does not seem like a reasonable idea to relocate now.

After all, if we all searched out bike friendly cities and all moved there, soon there would be no room for the influx. It seems judgemental to say that it’s ANYTHING but a luxury for most people to structure their lives around whether or not they can bike.

poofandmook's avatar

@daloon: I’m sorry, I should have clarified. What I meant was that the places that provide such means of transportation also come with a high cost of living. I’m using New York City as my example, since that’s what I know.

dynamicduo's avatar

There do exist some towns designed for bikes as a primary transportation method. They look glorious and I would love to live in one. However they’re pretty rare since it’s a big risk to cut out cars. I’d love to see small hamlets and towns strive towards this.

Nimis's avatar

Daloon: Good idea. Except I’m imagining it would melt on a cold
winter day too (if you take into account who is pushing the cart).

Trustinglife's avatar

Dale responded to the question I dropped in the middle here: what happens if we all move to areas known for their “bicyclibility” (the word aidje brilliantly coined)? That wouldn’t work, would it? There are so many circumstances. But… circumstances change when priorities do, and that may be coming. There may be a real shake-up coming. That’s what I anticipate. This is such a pertinent discussion.

Daloon, I’m taking what you said into consideration. I am looking at where I want to live right now. Bicyclibility is definitely a factor. Although I do love my car.

cooksalot's avatar

@dynamicduo sounds like Portland, Oregon.

augustlan's avatar

@Nimis: Are you implying that I’m full of hot air? j/k

wundayatta's avatar

@trustinglife: that’s pretty cool. Good luck.

Celeste00's avatar

@daloon, thank you, you answered the question the way it should have been answered from the beginning. You’re an example for cyclists and others alike with your riding.

Also, it seems people are much more sensitive towards sarcasm when they don’t agree. I have been in several threads that were filled with sarcasm, and didn’t see anyone calling those people jerks or banning them. That’s all I have to say.

steelmarket's avatar

The whole “bicycling” thing is primarily a symbol for making a personal commitment to taking a green path in our lifestyle. We should not get hung up on the actual mechanics and logistics of using a bicycle to get around.

Instead, we need to become more aware, and more demanding. of other avenues of transportation. Bicycles are a great invention but do not address the lifestyle of most people today and do not address the fact that most of us live in cities that, for the past 100 years, have been designed around automotive transportation. We should not use the bicycle as a yard stick to measure how “green” we are or the suitability of where we live. That is way too limiting.

The great challenge is how to be more efficient within this vast infrastructure that we have inherited (and even helped to build). I almost see the whole talk about bicycles as a diversion away from the larger issue, the one we must address, and that is, “How can we move suburban dwellers around with less carbon fuel?”

EmpressPixie's avatar

@Steel: to that end a lot of new developments are centered around “town centers” that have all the shopping that the average family needs in walking distance. My parents live in one such area—if they want, they can easily (and I mean EASILY) walk to three grocery stores, two drug stores, a bookstore, the library, an office supply store, etc. The town area was set up so that unless you are commuting to work, you really don’t need to go outside of walking distance. Unless you just want to. I know my parents—and a lot of the neighbors—do walk to the grocery as a result of it being so close.

I think in literal walking distance terms, we are just as close to the grocery as we were in the previous area we lived, but the way the new town is set up it makes walking look like a much more attractive choice. Whereas, the previous town wasn’t set up for walking as an inviting choice. The attitude was “you could, but why would you?” and that was clear in how the houses were built and where the businesses were put.

tinyfaery's avatar

GA steelmarket. You articulated a valid point without offending anyone.

steelmarket's avatar

@empress: In my city planning courses (back 20+ years ago) we did a number of exercises where we developed plans similar to what you describe. Problem was that, in the real world, homebuyers (and so developers, and so city councils, and so lenders) saw this type of development as too experimental and the resulting resistance killed the projects.

I am glad to see those communities have their day and your parents are fortunate to live in one. But, and my point in this forum, the overwhelming majority of Americans live in suburbs that were built and occupied under an obsolete paradigm and they are not really interested in moving. We need new, truly out-of-the-box ideas on how to change the functioning of our existing suburbs, and their occupants, now.

EmpressPixie's avatar

@steel: We also moved to the Seattle area. So, I mean, it’s not exactly “we don’t care about the environment”-land.

wundayatta's avatar

@steelmarket: I know you’ve called for ideas to change the current suburban life paradigm. I was wondering if you had any of your own. If yes, I’d be happy to ask a question to let you talk about it.

steelmarket's avatar

I wish that I could say that I have clever, new ideas to address this challenge, but I don’t. I don’t have the silver bullet, and I don’t know if we will find one single bullet, that will kill the consumption beast. But I do know that it will be ideas, and not just bicycles, that make it happen.

I would simply encourage everyone to think about their suburban situation in a slightly different manner. Thinking of buying a more efficient vehicle to get you to work? Also think about how you could restructure your job so that you could work from home a day or two each week. Thinking about how large a vehicle you need to carry groceries home? Also imagine a new system that would deliver groceries to your house (this has been tried, I loved it, but the business model did not survive). Wondering where to invest your money where it will give a decent return and be safe? Think about installing more insulation in your home.

I could go on, but you get the idea. I don’t want to put down bicycling, or planned communities, etc. – we need a lot of little and large ideas all working together to create a new lifestyle paradigm. Maybe we do need a new Fluther question, one that will give everyone a chance to chime in with their suggestions. Fire away.

shadling21's avatar

Wow, I can’t believe I missed out on this thread.

I drive when I can (borrowing my mother’s car) and take the bus most of the time. I live in a Canadian city with one of the most extreme climates in North America. Biking is dangerous.

BayAreaBiker's avatar

I have been biking for the past 20 years and enjoy it. The San Francisco Bay Area has a good climate for outdoor activities. The term “biking distance” does not mean much to me, as I can bike upwards of 100 km, maybe more. As for public transportation within my biking area, nearly all the VTA routes, SamTrans 390 and 391, AC Transit 99, CalTrain, most of the San Francisco MUNI routes, the Millbrae-Fremont BART line, San Benito County Transit’s Business District bus, and the Santa Cruz Metro 35 are entirely within my biking area.

frostgiant's avatar

90% of my driving is to/from/at work. I’m in the electrical contracting trade. If anyone can come up with an idea to modify a bicycle to carry ladders, tools, building materials, etc.—I’m all ears. But I’d need to be all legs!

augustlan's avatar

@frostgiant Welcome to Fluther. :)

UScitizen's avatar

Because when I left for work at 5:45 am the outside air temperature was -8 F.

IJustGetBored's avatar

People drive cars because they are more convenient than bikes, as well as for many other good, valid reasons that other people have mentioned.
However, from reading your comment responses it is very clear that you are not asking this question to educate yourself or others or to have a meaningful and mature debate. It is very apparent that you are what is referred to as a “Troll”. A troll is someone on the internet whose primary goal is to provoke people and argue about controversial things over the internet with the intent to piss people off. Good Job. I am amused. -_ -

Ron_C's avatar

I know that I’m years late in answering this question but I would like to add my information. One of my bikes has an electric hub motor with a top speed of about 25 MPH. The only time I can’t use it is when there is snow an ice. I’ve tried and everything goes well until you hit an icy patch and the pain begins.

My office is only 3 miles from my house and it’s a 10 or 15 minute trip, depending on school traffic. The nice thing about an electric bike is that you don’t get to work all sweaty because the motor flattens the hills.

dalepetrie's avatar

This comic clearly features the person who asked this question.

Ron_C's avatar

@dalepetrie the comic is pretty good and explains many of the cyclists that I know. I follow the rules stay on the side with traffic, stop at stop signs and red lights and generally control the bike with the same set of rules that I use for the car, except for parking. I put my bike in the server room so no one messes with it.

But I have definitely met the guy in the cartoon.

dalepetrie's avatar

@Ron_C – should be more bikers like you! I know a few people who bike and follow the rules, and I’ve met more than my share of people who think they should be elevated to some special plane of existence because they bike. I’ve also seen a few bikers laying on the road after being hit by cars. I think what’s missing is common sense.

Ron_C's avatar

@dalepetrie we have “bike classes” at our local park during the summer. Unfortunately, it is only kids that go to them. Most of the people I see doing stupid things or riding against traffic are adults. Since more and more people are biking for work and pleasure there is likely to be a mandatory safety course that you will need before your bike gets licensed for the road. That will be a shame but it seem that that will be forced on us because of the stupid and careless cyclists that are out there.

Judi's avatar

Just the other day I got a really dirty look from a cyclist who ran a stop sign and swerved right in front of my car. Excuse me, but YOU had the stop sign!

wundayatta's avatar

@Judi There’s a karmic stop line for bicyclists that is farther from the corner than it is for cars. This is because it is much more of a significant problem for a person to stop a bike and restart it, especially if they have a lot of momentum. A car can stop and start with no physical pain for the driver. A bike can’t.

So it’s not an issue of who gets to the official stop line first, but who has the right of momentum. Cars, since they have no pain for drivers, should be nicer to bicyclists and stop for them, even if technically they get to the corner first. Bikes go slower and take longer to get there and suffer much more if they have to stop. It’s simple politeness.

Of course, any sane bicyclist will slam on the brakes, because very few drivers give a shit about bicyclists or about being polite. You wanna save your skin, you stop, even if you got there just after the car and the car saw you coming from a long ways. Still, there is a dance that goes on, and sometimes drivers give you a nod, and you know you don’t have to stop. Those are the good drivers. The considerate ones. The ones with good karma. The ones who are doing their part to encourage people to use fewer fossil fuels by riding bikes.

Judi's avatar

I didn’t have a stop sign. Only their direction did.

wundayatta's avatar

Doesn’t change the karmic impact. But don’t worry. You were right by law. Karma isn’t real.

Ron_C's avatar

@Judi escaping injury is better than holding your moral ground and getting run over by an idot.
When I rode a motorcycle, I always slowed down and carefully approached grocery store parking lots. I was told (and it appears to be true) that women don’t see motorcycles. I can’t count the number of time that women left the parking lot without even trying to slow down or stop. If I wasn’t prepared, I wouldn’t be writing this now. Our safety instructor really knew what he was talking about.

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