Thursday, October 13

Transition to Biketopia

"Transition from oil dependency to local resilience."
-- In Transition 1.0

I could continue ranting about my daily traffic encounters. I could relate the myriad traffic sins of various moto-fascists. I could ramble on about asinine things. But I don't wanna.

As I have evolved over the years from a crush stalker on my BMX to a transportational cyclist on a borrowed 10 speed to an urban college cyclist on a cheap mountain bike, then to an urban college cyclist on the Cannonball, to a roadie, to a full blown utility cyclist/full time shall I evolve from a ADHD addled cyclo-blogger focused on what's wrong with the world to a laser focused cyclo-blogger leading the world to Biketopia.

Modern utility cycling is fundamentally representative of the Transition Movement. As a planner and a wanna-be Peak Oil cassandra I think it is time I fully embraced the Transition Movement and use it as a vehicle to carry me to Biketopia.

But let's face it, most of us are already in the midst of Transition. After the economic distress of 2008 we've all found ways to maximize our resources. We've all cut corners, conserved energy and money, we've gotten more creative in making our ways through life. What is important is that we realize what's going on, where our world is headed, and that we educate and motivate ourselves to become resilient as the world changes.

Instead of waiting to see what will happen, why not begin preparing for more austere times NOW? And we all wish we had more time, less stress and a healthier lifestyle. We can have those things.

For me the path began on a stepping stone book called Your Money or Your Life (Dominguez & Robin). Between the covers the authors talked about taking back control of your financial life, but they also introduced a concept called "voluntary simplicity." As I read the book and looked at our lifestyle I realized that without trying we were already halfway to voluntary simplicity. I discovered the same thing about our lifestyle in the context of Transition when I first came across this concept.

Both ideas, voluntary simplicity and transition, are about rearranging the way you think and the way your life is organized. You don't have to sell your house. Transition isn't so much about drastic and expensive changes, but about making the right decision, sustainable decisions, when you make decisions both great and small.

Living by the principles of Transition wouldn't necessarily entail going out today and replacing everything in your house for more ecofriendly versions. Selling your Hummer to buy a Prius isn't going to take you to Transition Nirvana instantaneously. But making the decision that once the Hummer needs to be replaced, or the opportunity arrives where you can responsibly make the transition from Hummer to Prius, you make the right decision.

Transition isn't about living a pauper's life. Transition is about living a full life with less complications, less ecological impact and more resilience. And it doesn't necessarily happen overnight.

Resilience. Yes, it's like it sounds. Its being strengthened against the storms of life, having a strong foundation in long term survival skills, being ready for anything, both physically, mentally and emotionally. Resilience is understanding the status quo is a sham and being prepared for when the curtain is pulled aside.

Choosing the bike as my primary mode of transportation has made me more resilient. I already know how I will fare when gas prices get too high or the supplies are too scarce. I already know how I will get groceries and how my kids will get to school. And if/when dark times come I will happily pedal on. I won't grieve the loss of my car. I won't mourn the "erosion" of civilization. I'll embrace the opportunity to remake my community into something better than it was before.

When I graduated college with my crisp B.A. in Geography with a dual specialization in Urban & Regional Planning and GIS I didn't know it, but I wanted to work in the Transition Movement. I wanted to help make better places. I wanted to help people find utopia in their hometowns. For me, utopia is Biketopia. For others it may not be Biketopia, but Biketopia is a good place to start. One thing I know for sure, there are no SUVs in utopia. Sorry Mr. 259-LVL.

"Cycle tracks will abound in utopia." --H.G. Wells

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