"I see it in your future its a two-wheeled machine,
It runs on love burns perfectly clean,
Runs on love like something out of our collective dream..."
--Kipchoge Spencer, Xtracycle musician-president (from "Selling the Revolution")
It rides like a bike. It goes where bikes go. But it carries people and things. It expands the potential work you can do with your body. It increases the range of possibilities of the individual. It helps you live up to your true potential.
It won't necessarily make your life easier, but it will make your life better. But where is the value in a life of ease? Effort refines the soul. Adversity sharpens the mind. That which does not kill us makes us stronger, unless it makes us fatter.
The major problems in our society and culture revolve around transportation and energy. The dependence on oil by America drives a foreign policy and a world political climate that is not sustainable. Eventually the rest of the world is going to stand against us. Eventually we're going to be unable to wield the might of a century of energy dominance over the planet. Eventually our Hummers and F-22s will run out of gas.
The bicycle is the antidote to the poison of oil. We've glutted ourselves on the black poison for a century plus now. And we're sick to the core on it. We must wean ourselves because we'd never survive going cold turkey.
There is a Socio-Political Apocalypse looming. And when I say apocalypse I refer to the original meaning of the word, not the sensationalized concept of a great end-time war. "Apocalypse" means a revealing (revelation) or disclosure. And what I believe is going to happen is that at some point the Truth of the Age of Oil will become full clear and open to all. The delicate web we've woven is going to break and everything will become clear. No amount of spin, or mudslinging will hide the facts. Pundits will seek a new means of providing for their families. Their "services" will no longer be needed. The media will no longer be able to side against the good of the people. The truth will be the only thing in demand. The market will finally make the ultimate decision.
To Transition from the Age of Oil to an age of forced sustainability with any kind of order is going to take a greater amount of self control than we will be able to muster as a species. To remain resilient through the post carbon apocalypse will take skills most of us do not possess and do not value enough to acquire.
Stepping back, slowing down, making choices that are not programmed into us by the media and Corporate advertising...these are the first steps to survival and resilience.
Seeing through to the other side of the calamity to come will not be a function of lone survival, of hiding away in a bunker in the wilds of Canada with a rifle and a barrel of flour. Persisting beyond the Age of Oil will be a test of social survival and of being able to live together, not apart. In, as Kunstler calls it, the Long Emergency we will have to form smaller communities that value sustainable practices and more honorable arrangements for living. Of course there will be experiments in feudalism, regional totalitarianism and rampant anarchy. But those that will endure into the future, into the dawn of a new era of human existence (Lord willing) will be those that can reform communities and economies into something that make sense in a world that lacks access to abundant cheap oil.
Regardless of whether there will be a calamity or if we can somehow muster the human energy to transition while maintaining order we are going to have to learn to live in a much simpler manner. We are going to have to learn to be satisfied with simpler arrangements, less complex economies and political systems. We are going to have to relearn civility and civilization.
In the future, the single occupancy vehicle will be the bicycle, or for some the horse. No longer will mankind have the luxury of employing thousands of pounds of steel and plastic to portage a single human body to and fro across the landscape at impossible speeds.
Our roads will persist for some time once heavy trucks stop traveling upon them. The narrowest of them will make wonderful highways for the flocks of bicycles that will suddenly find them welcoming and wonderful as the engines of destruction grind to a halt and the silence deafens us.
And the bike that will dominate the Mad Maxian landscape (where the chapped and feathered antagonists ride bicycles) to come will be the longtail cargo bike. Why? Because the longtail can carry people and stuff. It rides like a bike and can go the places bikes can go. It expands the potential work you can do with your body. And in a world where the human body will be the primary unit of energy the bicycle will be the long range mode of transportation of choice. It increases the range of possibilities of the individual. By allowing an individual to carry other people and stuff the longtail, the hitchless trailer, the SUB, will empower its captain to heroic feats. The longtail cargo bike helps you live up to your true potential. Survivors will ride bikes.
Don't wait until apocalyptic calamity forces you onto a longtail bike. In this fading age of cheap and easy energy the longtail bike is still fun, even if it is functional, it honors community, brings out the natural curiosity in your neighbors and the best in you.