Skip to main content

Special Note - I did not write this but felt obligated to post it here.  It's very well written and relevant.  I've seen very few postings here in this election season about riding a bike as an alternative to driving a car.  In addition, May is "Bike to Work Month."  

This was written by Scott McKinney and cross-posted at  
A direct link to the source piece is found here:

*****I have his written permission to use this material here*****

Scott is a regular bike commuter here in the Sacramento, and puts close to 10,000 miles on his bike on an annual basis.  Here's what Scott has to say:
There’s an old fable that claims if you drop a frog into boiling water he will immediately jump free – the
shock of sudden change to cold-blood causing "flight." However, if you put a frog in cold water and slowly increase the temperature, he will gradually get comfortable with the heat until he boils alive.
Stupid frog.

A few years ago, I started asking, "What gas price would cause you to take up bicycle commuting?" At the time, gas was priced at about $2.50 a gallon. Most people said they would consider bike commuting when gas hit $4.00 a gallon.

Well here we are.

At last check, roadways are still clogged and drivers remain addicted to automotive conveniences and lifestyle – so much so that I’ve heard about people spending less on food in order to continue driving. So, rather than reduce their use, they would rather go hungry.

Meanwhile, the number of bicycle commuters has edged up only marginally. I don’t have hard statistics, but I can assure you, there are no traffic jams on the bike trail during morning rush.

I hear all sorts of excuses as to why people won’t try bike commuting. One of my favorites: "I'm a girl, so it takes longer to fix my hair." Apparently in addition to the price of clothes, makeup, plastic surgery and spa treatments, the price of vanity now includes gas for the car.

What have we become? According to United States House of Representatives Congressional Resolution on Bicycling (H.Con.Res. 305), the facts are grim and set to get worse:

• US population, currently 300 million people, is expected to reach 365 million by 2030 and 420 million by 2050; further stressing roadways and fuel resources;
• Since 1980, the number of miles Americans drive has grown 3 times faster than population;
• Passenger automobiles and light trucks contribute 21 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions in the United States;
• In 1969, approximately 50 percent of children in the United States got to school by walking or bicycling. But in 2001 only 15 percent of students walked or bicycled to school. 20 to 30 percent of morning traffic is generated by parents driving children to schools;
• 65 percent of US adults are overweight or obese, and 13 percent of children and adolescents are overweight;
• The Center for Disease Control estimates that if physically inactive Americans became active, we would save $77 billion in annual medical costs.
So in addition to fuel reduction, this bike thing could also have a profound affect on the health care crisis.

What the hell will it take to shake people out of their dependence on oil?

Admirable as their attempts may be, politicians and pundits often pay little more than lip service to real reductions. Senator Obama’s "ambitious" plan advocates that fleet fuel efficiency standards increase "four percent per year towards the goal of 40 miles per gallon within ten years and 60 miles per gallon within twenty years." Senator Clinton’s proposals vary from an increase in fleet-wide fuel efficiency of 10 miles per gallon over the next decade to a standard of 55 MPG by 2030.  Senator McCain’s proposal is just perplexing: "(I will) work with Congress and all stakeholders to see that achievable and appropriate standards are put into place that will optimize advances in technology, protect auto safety, meet family needs and consumer demands, promote the nation’s energy security, and help our industry compete in a global economy."

That there is textbook ambiguity.

The House Congressional Resolution on Bicycling (H.Con.Res. 305), introduced in February, proposes a national bicycling strategy to encourage more people to bicycle, more safely, and more often. The bill includes expanded funding for bike lanes as well as tax incentives for businesses and commuters.
This comprehensive bicycling policy statement would provide guidance for the transportation reauthorization beginning in 2009.

Contact your Congressional Representative!

While these proposals may sound impressive on the surface, they are flawed to their very core.
• 1) Gas prices are a problem NOW. Options that require years of research and development are too little and too late.
• 2) These standards pander to automobile manufacturers and labor. While they sound tough, they are compromised to retain campaign contributions and votes. Many "stakeholders" have little interest in a solution that results in anything but selling vehicles.
• 3) While fuel efficiency proposals appear specific, they are not. Publishing differing standards makes accountability nearly impossible.
• 4) These measures assume that consumptive addiction must be coddled and perpetuated. With US population projected at 450 Million in 2050, grandiose efficiency standards barely pace demand. And that assumes these standards will be adopted and enforced.

Remember, campaign promises are many, many years from reality.

In total, these "solutions" barely dent the real issue and merely delay the inevitable.  On the other hand, according to the congressional bill cited above, "Bicycle commuters annually save on average $1,825 in auto-related costs, reduce their carbon emissions by 128 pounds, conserve 145 gallons of gasoline, and avoid 50 hours of gridlock traffic."

It kills me that few leaders at any level lead by example or reduce their own consumption. While the US House Bicycle Caucus claims more than 170 members, I know of only one leader who is a committed bike commuter. Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon didn't even apply for a parking permit when he moved to Washington. According to the Blogspot, Bike Commute Tips, "On occasion, Mr. Blumenauer has cycled to the White House. On (his) first visit, the Secret Service...was flummoxed at the sight of his bike. ‘I leaned it up against the portico,’" said Blumenauer.  Another common excuse I hear for not bike commuting is a variation on the theme: "I’m too important to ride a bike." Tell that the Congressman Blumenauer.

I'll ask it again; "What will it take to get you to ride your bike to work?" We appear to be OK with $100 to fill a tank. Will we meet $125 with similar inaction? $150? Going once, twice, a tank of gas sold for $200?

While the fable of the boiled frog has been proven false, the truth is even more embarrassing. Scientists who tested the myth found that when a frog is placed in cold water and the temperature gradually increased, the frog has the good sense to become more active and will jump out of its fatal situation.

Clearly, humans have many opportunities for evolutionary advancement.
If YOU are not becoming more active, you are taking the victim’s path. You, like the frog in the myth, are being lulled by promises that the government and big business are looking out for your best interests and will, ultimately, solve your problem. Don’t buy it. YOU are the only one who can reduce YOUR fuel consumption. And YOU have the power to make a difference right NOW!

Try riding to work. Do it once. Then do it again. Before long, today’s excuses will seem trivial. You will find that your lifestyle can accommodate bike commuting. And you might actually enjoy it.
Come now, don’t be stupid, people.

Originally posted to vipersdad on Wed May 14, 2008 at 03:24 PM PDT.


What would it take to get you to ride your bike to work/school, errands, etc...?

48%17 votes
28%10 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
2%1 votes
20%7 votes

| 35 votes | Vote | Results

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  If I didn't take my car... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ed in Montana, EJP in Maine, marykk

    and walked or took a bike, that would mean more time away from Dailykos.

    And this would leave you all wandering astray without my words of wisdom.  I feel I do have my responsibilities.

    Hey, I'm kidding, I'm kidding.

    I have a dog I have to walk twice a day or he gets pretty upset.  And he doesn't care what the cost of gas is.

    But seriously, good suggestion. If the high cost of gas got us all to exercise more, we could end up talking more to each other, enjoying the natural social life of a neighborhood, and being healthier.

  •  Fair Use violation? (0+ / 0-)

    is this copyrighted material?

    "So long as we have enough people in this country willing to fight for their rights, we'll be called a democracy." -Roger Baldwin

    by voila on Wed May 14, 2008 at 03:33:44 PM PDT

  •  I'd love to - but unfortunately (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jbdigriz, marykk

    I live too far away and am an old fart. The roads around here have no bike lanes and are narrow with lots of pot holes, especially along the edges. Michigan has very poor roads due to lack of highway funds to keep up on the repairs. And then there is the weather situation - half the year it's either snowing or raining. So, I'd either have to quit work or move much closer (where it is more expensive and the taxes are way too high). Those are my excuses and I'm stickin' to 'em. I will continue to drive my 28 mile round trip three days per week.

    "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." - JFK

    by moose67 on Wed May 14, 2008 at 03:37:55 PM PDT

    •  I'm in bad physical shape (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I could not bike to work.  Too many hills.

      Public transportation is two buses and a subway train that with waiting time can easily take an hour.

      In the car it takes less than ten minutes.

      My grief counselor lives three towns over.  That trip would take three buses (and the last one does not run very often) followed by a 20 minute walk.  In the car it takes 25-30 minutes.

      not to mention the unpredictable weather in New England.

      I feel terrible about melting the polar ice caps, but right now I have to drive.

      Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.
      Give to Populista's Obamathon 2.0!

      by TrueBlueMajority on Wed May 14, 2008 at 04:18:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Depending where you live (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassandra Waites

    Ideally it should be possible to ride in the street, but if you need to make a left turn, and the light skips left turns, and skips left turns again, and skips left turns again in three cycles, it can be ... difficult. And if there are hostile drivers, it gets worse. And if there are intersections at the bottom of a steep hill...

    Riding on the sidewalks isn't any safer. You may have to dodge all sorts of debris, or jump ditches. You may need to slow to wait behind oblivious pedestrians. You may need to wedge your bike into position to wait at one crosswalk on the side of the hill, without rolling into the street...

    Liberty - Mother, not daughter, of Order

    by Mike Erwin on Wed May 14, 2008 at 03:40:25 PM PDT

  •  Family of 8 here, no car (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    EJP in Maine, marykk

    but we live in Boston area it is easier

    still I reccomend you give it a try

    Tax Paradigms, Feed Imaginations

    by jhpdb on Wed May 14, 2008 at 03:43:18 PM PDT

  •  Find me a bike friendly job and I'll do it (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    SIGH I work for an agency where conservation is the furthest from their minds.  The huge honking SUVs dominate the parking lot along side Corvettes.  The building is isolated, prisonlike and very, very far way from mass transit just off a highway.

    Given my druthers I'd love to change jobs to one where I could take mass transit but in this economy with my BA history, they aren't exactly beating down a path to my door to hire me. So for now I'm the odd one out, unable to express my liberal hippie chick side at work.

    I can't wait until January 23rd, 2009....

    •  That's a big concern (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Here where I work they banned bicycles in the building without giving us a place to put them.  We organized and took our case to the area Facilities and HR VP's and got them to provide us with a place to store them that was safe and dry.  

      I had no idea how many people WANTED to ride their bike but felt as you did.  Many of them are people I would never think would do it based on their political views.  I'm wondering where you live?

      •  Doncha know conservation is a PERSONAL virtue! (0+ / 0-)

        My position is akin to Microsoft's infamous "permatemps" -- my client is one of the nooks and crannies in the DOD in the DC area, my building being recently built to the latest GSA/DOD specs to keep us safe from terrorists.  It's far more like a prison. Trust me we have no pull whatsoever in making things better, let alone the real government folks who are only slightly better off than us -- at least they get better bennies.

        I've never ever seen a bike nor are there bike racks that I know of.  Biking even if permissible wouldn't be feasible for me personally as my commute is 17 miles via 95 percent interstates.  

        Personally I'm saving up to have my Johnny Paycheck moment, go get an MBA/MPA and good willing a saner more stable better paying job.

  •  The theme of the comments: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marykk, SJLeonidas, Youffraita

    Many of the comments here talk about infrastructure.  We have built an infrastructure that encourages people to live far away from centers of business and commerce vs. how it used to be before cars.  This syndrome forces people to use their car because the distance is simply too great to ride a bike.  In the SF Bay area, it's not uncommon for people to live over 70 miles away from their office because housing is just too expensive close in.  

    Most of the comments I hear are the same - it's too far, and the roads don't support it.  These are public policy issues and this is a democracy.  Our inability to see this coming created inaction.  And no decision was a decision - we let builders, oil companies, and automobile manufacturers determine our fate.  There are examples of different solutions, though...and right here in the good ol' USA.  

    Here in the Sacramento area, there is the American River Parkway - which is a 27 mile bike path connecting the many Cities and Towns Between Folsom and Downtown Sacramento.  An average cyclist can make that ride in 1:40 minutes.  There are hundreds of people (Like Scott) who make that ride each day.  Today, in traffic at rush hour, it can take as long as an hour to make that drive on Hwy 50 or Hwy 80.  On the light rail, I timed the trip at 50 minutes last time I took it.  Add to that the amount of time I wait at the station for the train on both ends and I'm pretty close to my 1:40 time to ride my bike.  

    I have a commute of 7.67 miles.  I can make it in just a tiny bit longer than it takes me to drive the same distance because there are routes I have to take in my car that I'm not restricted to on my bike (bike paths, shortcuts, etc...)  

    I "get" the comments about people anxious about mixing it up with cars, traffic, etc...  But I've found the anxiety goes away as you get used to it and find out which roads to avoid and which to use.

    As more people opt for alternatives to Autos in their commute, it encourages municipalities to pay closer attention to issues like bike lanes, and signal timing and left-turn lanes and driver education.  All of these things make things better.  Many cities in Europe and some in the US have spent time on that and improved quality of life for both motorists as well as cyclists in the process.  

  •  It isn't true, by the way (0+ / 0-)

    You can't boil a frog that way.

  •  Why don't I bike? (0+ / 0-)

    I'm afraid of getting hit by the insane PA drivers who somehow manage to retain their licenses even though they wouldn't recognize a double yellow line (or a bike lane) if they flew out of their SUVs and landed face-down on it.

    I can only hope that this is true:

    Our economy is a house of cards. Don't breathe.

    by Youffraita on Wed May 14, 2008 at 04:12:52 PM PDT

  •  This diary doesn't take into account the (0+ / 0-)

    structural impediments to change.  For instance what if you've bought a home some distance away from your place of business?  Are you going to sell your home (in the market) and move closer?  What about the additional responsibilities of having children? Or older parents?  In reality, the basic fabric of life has changed. It would be extremely difficult for the avaerage family to turn on a dime and adopt a more energy efficient lifestyle.

    "Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come." Victor Hugo

    by lordcopper on Wed May 14, 2008 at 04:20:54 PM PDT

    •  Or what if you are laid off? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I carpooled to work faithfully for 17 years.  Then the job got defunded.  Trust me the jobless recovery is quite jobless for many.  I really, really wanted to work downtown to allow me to either continue the carpool or take the subway to work but the super paranoia trend is to move offices out to the exurbs and way from mass transit (UGH!).  The only job offer that was forthcoming happened to be somewhere that is stranded from mass transit.

      So sadly I must report we are moving backwards not forwards on the issue walking/biking/mass transit to work....

      •  I sympathize. it's like everyone wants to (0+ / 0-)

        criticize drivers of SUVs.  I live in Florida with a wife, two kids, and two dogs.  During hurricane season, we have to be ready to take our show on the road (one year we evacuated twice).  Staying is not an option because the county turns of the water and electric (we live on a barrier island).  The point is I would love to get more than 15 mpg, but it just doesn't work for my families needs at this time.

        "Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come." Victor Hugo

        by lordcopper on Wed May 14, 2008 at 05:37:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I drive to work so I can drive to (0+ / 0-)

    my customer sites during the day, and transport computers and equipment between the shop and customers. Plus, I need my tools, cables, and assorted "extras" that are too heavy to carry on a bus, even if I could count on a bus.

    On the other hand, after careful consideration, I believe the Aptera will make a fine commute/service vehicle for me.

    "The road to gas chambers starts when good people find excuses to justify torture and murder. Feinstein and Schumer are enablers."- Larry Johnson -8.25, -6.21

    by Jacques on Wed May 14, 2008 at 04:24:01 PM PDT

    •  P.S. I've had boiled frog, it's kind of bland. (0+ / 0-)

      Actually, it was frog soup.

      Whereas , there are several Chinese, and Italian recipes that I can recommend...

      "The road to gas chambers starts when good people find excuses to justify torture and murder. Feinstein and Schumer are enablers."- Larry Johnson -8.25, -6.21

      by Jacques on Wed May 14, 2008 at 04:25:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  My buddy has the same situation... (0+ / 0-)

      He leaves his car at work, and of course, does not bike every day.  There are days he's out on the road and days he's in the office.

  •  Try to bike 2-3 times a week with Light Rail (0+ / 0-)

    Here in San Jose.  It takes me an hour, but I get to do some work on the train on my laptop.  I end up biking a total of ~8 miles total for the day.

    I find if you add up the times for commute, work, and exercise...I acually break even or better on my time budget.

    However, the route is not particularly bike-friendly, and much more needs to be done.  This is a good opportunity for community involvement.  Something I need to try to do.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site