"The car became both a blessing and a curse in the early twentieth century as urban and rural populations in the United States either embraced the freedom of driving or were forced to adapt to the car's spatiotemporal trajectories." --Zach Furness, One Less Car
This week has been a low mileage week for me. We had more snow this week, and the snow came late in the day while temperatures plummeted. So I chose discretion over valor and caught a ride Wednesday and Thursday to work and I carpooled to class today. It would have been a rough 22 miles with the lingering surface snow from earlier in the week.
I used to hate the idea of carpooling because it took away from my overall mileage. But I've also come to value the opportunities to give my body a rest. So lately, when I can easily catch a ride, I have been doing so. So in this sense the car has been a blessing to me. My needs are not creating additional car trips, and I'm only taking advantage of the trips of others. I'll get to the broader implications of this at the end of the post.
Being a carlite, one car family makes it necessary to have backup plans. Getting back and forth to work using public transit is difficult for me, but as long as I make arrangements ahead of time carpooling has seemed to be a pretty effective tool.
So why don't I carpool every day and forego the bike altogether? For the same reasons many give that they want to continue driving over mass transit or vanpooling: I like my alone/quiet time and I like the freedom to come and go as I want and need. But the occasional shared ride doesn't infringe on my lifestyle choices too bad, and gives me an easy out when I would struggle with the motivation to plunge into a snowstorm.
Again, I'm not falling on my sword in shame because I have ridden in a vehicle for six trips this week. I could say that instead of accepting the kindness of strangers in the form of benevolent car rides that I should be riding my bike on principle alone and trying to convert my motorist friends to cycling, mass transit or walking more. I won't necessarily say that.
I came to Transition and sustainability through a desire to be free from the slavery of conventional thinking. I tire easily when it comes to trying to keep up with the Jonses, making sure I have the latest version of any electronic gadget and pleasing the masses with my conformity. Adding the bike to our transportation choices gave us more freedom and resilience. And now, allowing myself to carpool also gives me a low-impact option and makes me a little more flexible.
My journey has also impressed upon me the need to conserve fossil fuels by reducing my use of them.
I fully plan on exploring mass transit for my needs to get to school in the very near future. I have no fear of doing it, just some apprehension at the mechanics of figuring out the nuances. I have confidence in myself.
On a side note, the kids and I swung by Arvada Bike to look at a used Bianchi road bike they have in there. I like it okay, but I'm not sure if it would be one bike too many. As a married man I must always keep one equation in my mind: n-1.
N = the number of bikes that will result in divorce. Therefore, n-1 is the proper number of bikes to own. Would the Bianchi keep me at n-1? Hard to say.
While I was there Richard showed me another used bike they got in. It was a steel fixed gear bike. I'm not sure of the brand or model, but I liked it. I'm pretty sure the Bianchi and the black fixed gear would be at least n+1.
What I find completely unfair is that N equals a much higher number if you're a woman. Men have a much lower n value. When I'm king that will change.