Those who know me know that I can be a little wonky. I like numbers. I like using graphs and other visual aids to spot divergence from trends. Here’s an example.
This chart shows that even as the economy has pulled out of the Great Recession, many Americans are not driving as much as they used to. I suspect there are a lot of reasons for this. I’m not as concerned with why this is happening as I am that it is happening. We are in uncharted territory. The new trend is not the same as the old trend. The new trend is good. If it remains in play, it will free up billions upon billions of dollars we can use to fix some of the other problems we’ve been ignoring.
Then there’s this story that crossed my feed last night. It’s about thieves in Dallas using Bluetooth technology to steal credit card information from people who buy gasoline and pay at the pump. Fortunately, the security people have a fix. You can buy another $200 gizmo that will alert you to the presence of the Bluetooth skimmers. Apparently nobody uses cash any more…
It’s all a bit overwhelming, and I think that’s the reason people aren’t driving so much these days. Traffic is horrible. Roads are crumbling. Licensing and insurance costs are rising. We pay as much for cars as our grandparents paid for houses. The subset of motorists who are psychotic and put you and your loved ones at risk continues to rise. Now we have Bluetooth thieves to deal with. Tomorrow there will be something else…another hassle.
I don’t buy much gasoline these days, and so the Bluetooth story is nothing more than an interesting anecdote to me. It’s yet another reason why I prefer my bicycle to my car. There are others…
Bicycling is pure joy. You get to feel the wind in your hair, or in my case what’s left of my hair. You have a certain freedom motorists no longer have. It’s dirt cheap, relatively speaking. It allows you to exercise while you commute, buying yourself back an extra hour or two per day. You can eat donuts without feeling guilty about it.
I don’t think the automobile is going anywhere any time soon, but I do think it’s going to die a slow, painful death. I’ve taken over 70% of my short trips this year by bicycle and I’m not going back. Everywhere I look, I see more people on bikes than ever before. I think the process has begun. I think many of these people are also not going back. I might be wrong about that. We’ll see.