Did you wake up this morning ready to J.O.Y.B.A.G.â„¢? (That’s, Jump On Your Bike And Go, in case you missed Josh’s post.)
If not, then we haven’t gotten through to you. Our work is not done. In fact, it’s just begun.
But if you drove to work today, I’m not going to hold it against you. Cars are awesome.
That’s right, I said it. Cars are awesome.
Cars are expensive and dirty, and societies designed around cars are destructive to the human soul.
But other than that, cars are awesome. They are reliable. They carry stuff. They don’t mess up your hair. You can lock them with a single key and keep the contents relatively safe. You’re comfortable inside of them. It is not a social liability if you own a car and use it daily. Nobody is going to lift up your car, throw it into the back of a truck, and drive off with it.
Bikes don’t even come close, do they?
J.O.Y.B.A.G.â„¢ is going to fix all that.
We’ve been processing this idea for months now, and we’re serious. Damn serious. Even if we have trouble saying it with a straight face, we want more people on bikes, and commuting on bikes.
J.O.Y.B.A.G.â„¢ is also an invitation to gripe about what’s wrong with bikes.
Yesterday evening, I took the Hebb ElectroCruiser 700 downtown to meet some friends.
Getting there and back was the easy part. But I encountered my old nemesis at the bike rack. Locking bikes is a pain in the ass.
I faced the bike rack, and resolved to lock the bike effectively without putting a knee to the ground. I failed on both counts.
My u-lock was too short to capture the front wheel and the frame. My cable kept recoiling defiantly. Everything ended up on the ground: the lock, my keys, my knee.
Hardly an event to whine about, right? We expect locking a bike to be a clumsy brain-teaser every time–or at least once in awhile–don’t we?
That’s the problem–or one of them. We habitual cyclists are habituated to the nuisances of bike ownership, and we don’t think of them as nuisances. But for a new and potential cyclist, these nuisances are deal-killing frustrations.
But think about the extent to which car owners as well are habituated to the nuisances to car ownership. Our society is habituated to nuisances of car ownership because they come with the expectation of car ownership.
I haven’t owned a car since 2004, but my wife does own one. (Which means that I own it too, I suppose. But on principle, I don’t have my name on the title.)
Now that I’m no longer habituated to owning a car, the notion of buying, registering, insuring, and maintaining one seems to me like a huge nuisance. (I do grudgingly maintain our car, but I drag my feet for as long as I can. Right, Honey?)
That should be a hopeful sign–if utterly subjective and anecdotal. The more convenient bikes become, the more people will come to realize that the awesomeness of cars also comes with annoying burdens.
But for now, bikes are–or at least seem to be–the more burdensome vehicle.
What are your complaints about the bike? Comment anonymously if you must.